Okay, so in addition to the wonderful Treadmill Desk that lets me walk and chew gum at the same time, I’m also in a workout cycle with my family. It’s not a light one, either–it’s focused on muscle-building (which, for most of us chicks, means don’t hold your breath for losing weight). The thing about workout cycles is that they are not the same day-to-day, and often vary every couple of weeks–your muscles get short-term tired through the workout, and long-term tired as the weeks go on. Mr. Athena and I have been through this cycle several times (in case you’re wondering, it’s P90X), and each time, at least for me, something different happens to my body (both on the good side and on the bad side).

One cycle, I noticed my legs getting a lot stronger. Another, my back and shoulders melted down to, if not “totally ripped” then at least to “ain’t half bad.” and in yet another, my ass toned up (that one was a high point). I had another high point the cycle where my core strengthened and all of a sudden all of my pants fit better. On the downside, one cycle, I discovered how weak my shoulder joints were. In another, my lower back developed a new hobby of spasming at the drop of a hat. A different cycle and I discovered that my right knee joint needs babying. And finally, my wrists are whiners when I can finally do more push-ups. Still another cycle helped me discover a persistent bronchial sensitivity. Man, getting old sucks!

But each time, doing the same thing (pretty much–I will admit that some cycles we were more religious about it than others) netted me not only different results, but different learning experiences as well. I got better at doing some of the more complex exercises, cheesed it less in others, woke up with less (or rather, different) aches and pains the morning after.

The same thing happens when I go through a writing process.

I learn something new with every story I write. I learn new things in the draft about storycrafting. I learn new things about how to revise every time I pass through a WIP another time. And I learn more about my own process and how it changes.

I know that there are writers out there–and Muse bless ’em–who maintain that they’ve never taken a writing course, or it all “just comes naturally” to them. Good for them. There are other writers out there who have gone through the courses, logged the apprentice and journeyman’s hours in improving the craft, and have Arrived (somewhere, wherever that may be, in a place that is meaningful to them). There are others still putting in the time and the hours.

Then there are those of us who keep going back. You don’t hear from us as much, probably because we should be carefully screened before we’re allowed in polite company. We’re the writers who learn it all, get out there and try to apply all that we’ve learned, and then realize we didn’t even scratch the surface of learning it all the first time. So we head back to the workshops and take some more classes, study different methodologies. Then we try them again, usually in a flurry of creativity, before realizing we aren’t the know-it-alls we hoped this round would make of us. So back to the trenches again we go, we go.

It’s kind of a messy way to progress, and it’d be a lot more convenient if we could just say, “Feh, I know enough.” or “I completely learn by doing.” But the sad fact is that there are those of us who have to learn, then do, then lather, rinse, repeat.

But each time, I learn something new. And yeah, I find a new thing I need to work on. But I’m getting smarter–I fight it less now.

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