Monday, March 14, 2011

Rust: Good for Fae, Bad for Us

Now, I'm not talking literal rust, but the metaphorical rust of our skills. Throughout life, people of all kinds build up skills in a variety of things. Languages, writing, etc. They always wait for that wonderful day when their hard work will pay off and they can declare "I'm proficient at something!" And after that? The real work starts, sustaining that proficiency...

I remember the beautiful day when I finished my American Sign Language (ASL) 4 class with an A. I felt so proud to know I had taken every single course in my language that my University offered, I socialized with all kinds of native signers, I was involved in the Deaf community. I dared to call myself fluent! Then...a few months passed. Family happened, school happened, my lack of a car happened. I didn't socialize much anymore, my only sign exposure was homework, I forgot how to use certain signs and other grammatical techniques.

Then I met a Deaf person, they signed at me, it went 'woosh' over my head. Yeah, I felt my fingers creaking when I asked them to say it again. I got rusty.

The same thing goes for writing. Unless there's a constant stream of words or something coming out of your fingers on a daily basis, you lose track of the story, or you get bored with it. You slip into so many passives it's not even funny, your cliches pile on. And editing that bad boy? You become ashamed to show that rough draft to anything else because the dark red stains on your words are so obvious. All that time spent honing your craft to turn that out.

Now, I admit I'm not expert on sign language or writing. I'm still in school for one and I'm still learning the finer points of the other. However, to sustain the skills I actually have, I need to dedicate myself to a daily regimen of Youtube Vlogs and manuscript/story slogging. Writer's block and mental tiredness are no excuse! It's like reading your Bible everyday, for my fellow Christians out there, it's a pain in the butt keeping up that routine, but it has to be done if you're going to grow any and keep yourself and God on the same page.

What have been your struggles with sustaining your craft? Or any kinds of skills you take pride in? How do you sustain them so they don't turn red and creaky?


  1. I haven't used my sign language skills since my husband and I changed churches a while back, and mine have gotten rusty too ...

    Writing is kinda like a muscle, I think. You retain some muscle memory even if you take a break, so you don't forget EVERYTHING, but you get out of shape at the same time.

  2. The only thing I am fluent in is writing essays with a thesis present- LOL because that's what I have been doing in every English class.

  3. I used to play French Horn for about eight years, but stopped after high school. Now I wouldn't even know how to play. That always upsets me. As for writing, luckily I'm not able to stop for more than a couple months at a time, so I think those gears will keep rust-free for a while!

  4. I'm having some issues tying up loose ends right now, its been about two days since I wrote, time to bring out he oil can! I read somewhere this morning that the best cure for writers block is free writing... We shall see!

  5. I love your analogy of writing : non-native languages. That seems spot-on to me. And I also love Katie’s idea of muscle memory and getting out of shape. I agree with all of it! This, I think, is one of the benefits to writing daily.

    And Summer, I used to rock at writing essays for school. Just like you, I did it so much it became natural to me. Now (4 years out of college), I imagine I still could, but it would take me a lot longer to get it down. I would have to build back up that stamina and ease I used to have.