After a break there's the rust, but the real problem is anxiety. You remember doing these things, but that was then. There's no telling whether you can do them again. Well, of course you'll be able to do them, but it feels impossible. Nothing's working and there really is some rust. Muscle memory has been lost along with muscle. Things feel all wrong. What do you do?
I haven't written for anyone else in two weeks. Life has been busier than usual and I've felt anxious and lost. Writing can balance that busy-ness and anxiety. It can ground ms on the map of my life. I know this but find reasons to avoid the page. Even when I come to the page or screen, I leave them blank and instead turn on the television. That's the story of the past two weeks.
Coming back to the keyboard I have twenty minutes before students arrive for classes. I tell myself to sit, open the editor, sip coffee, and go. I start with something simple: what's happening in my life? Deciding I must create a poem or write a story is too much. A little pressure breaks the rust and gets things moving. Too much pressure and I break down.
The time boundary helps too. I can't compose genius in twenty minutes. All I can do is get a few words down and see how my fingers react to typing once again. It applies gentle pressure — hurry, there are only a few minutes left before I have to do my job.
Mostly it comes down to deciding to do the thing. It's like running or cleaning the house. There's an inertia to overcome and the first step is telling myself, okay, get to it. That telling doesn't always work, that's why the screen and page stayed blank these past two weeks, but the telling is always first even when I don't notice myself saying anything at all.
Why decide to write, though? What good is it? Where does it go and who will read it? It's best I avoid that sort of questioning especially after a break. There are no good answers to who will read and where it goes or what good it might do. My only answer as to why write is this: I need to.
What do you need to do? Write, read, cook, swim, run, dance, take photographs, or something else? Name it and, if you can, say why you need to do it. I could use some help figuring this stuff out.