The Ups And Downs Of Writing Your Heart Out

Recall the first time you tried jumping on a trampoline. Do you remember that airborne feeling? First you had started off small, barely pressing your toes into the taut surface. Bending your knees slightly, timidly. But the movement was mesmerizing, fascinating, energizing. So you began to press harder and bend deeper. Now you were really flying- up, down, up, down, occasionally losing your balance and landing oddly, but it was all in good fun, this learning experience. You thought, “Hey, I should jump on this trampoline every day!”

The next morning you awakened and your calf muscles felt like they could be weight-training equipment at the gym. How can a pair of legs feel like a thousand pounds? How long had you jumped yesterday? You push yourself anyway, because if you were going to do this thing then you’d have to learn to press on through the pain of resistance. And once you got up there, it began to feel really good again.

But the next day, you hobbled more than walked. And the following days you cursed the day you discovered this form of exercise. The feeling of flying is eclipsed by the pain. You figure on taking a day or two off, just to recover.

After the weekend, you return to the trampoline, climb up and try again. It’s not quite so fun anymore because you’re afraid of the pain that will inevitably follow. You’re pretty sure there isn’t a moral to this story, just more and more work.

Wait. Am I really talking about a trampoline? This sounds suspiciously like an analogy. It’s a lot like all the feels we feel when writing. This business of setting down words is similar to jumping on a trampoline. Those moments in the air that feel like soaring; yeah, you’re going to want to hang on to those. They will carry you far. Those days that ache like overworked muscles; they will really, really disappoint. You might wonder how you ever found the writer’s life appealing.

But then you decide to look at this big splash of cold-water truth as a glass half full rather than half empty. It’s there, if a bit foggy from your breathlessness: There is rhythm in the up, down, up, down, of writing inspired and writing through enormous resistance, and once it becomes habit, (with planned days of rest observed for sanity’s sake,) it begins to seem quite valuable again. You realize it can’t all be up, but it isn’t all down, either. It’s an exercise that is both fun and work, and the variation between the two feels like a pendulum. It’s not too different from real life. It is real life, this choice to write your heart out. And writing your heart, living your heartbeat, changing and being changed through words; it makes for a wonderful life.

How do you feel about writing right now? Are you in the middle of an up or a down? Or just in-between? Perhaps you need a day or two of rest. Perhaps you are just not sure how to move forward. Ask yourself this: "What is the bright side of my writing reality?" Put those thoughts into words and make them work for you. Go write your heart out!

Jamie Bagley