Today was the first day I felt well enough to sit down and write after being severely ill for five days. Still not totally up to par yet, but at least I can look at the computer screen and somewhat focus. My eyes can focus, anyway. My brain... well, that's another story.
It's true that it doesn't take very long to get out of the habit of writing. For nearly three solid years I've been writing "every day" like I should, with very few exceptions, one of them of course being illness. I think this is the first time I've gone more than two days without working on a project of some sort, whether it be a short story or a novel.
I took for granted what writing "every day" had done for me. Mainly, it kept me in practice. These past five days, I've been out of practice and didn't realize how this had affected my skills. What I could normally write in an hour took me half the day.
Half. The day. Just to write a couple pages.
And it wasn't very good--I could tell this even as I wrote it--but I kept going. Somewhere along the course of that half day I found my groove again, and I knew for certain I was on the right track when this line came out:
Hair Gel Guy trots up beside us. He's so pleasant I can sense an aura of dead babies around him.
When prose like that (meaning, what I feel is my signature style) flows with little effort, my faith in my own skills is renewed. That's probably the best line I wrote all day, and even if the rest of what I wrote turns out to be garbage, the fact that I got that one good line out of the work day made it worth it.
Now that I have the rough re-entry behind me, it can only get better every day from here.
I know a lot of new writers cringe or roll their eyes when they hear the advice "write every day", but as with any advice, it isn't meant to be taken without exception. Obviously there are days when you simply cannot write, for good reason. The point, though, is to be regular, so that when you do find yourself "out" for an extended period of time it is easier to get back on the writing horse.