Fall in love with writing again
Let’s admit it: we all have days when, regardless of how much we normally enjoy our writing, it just feels like hard work. We have days when we’d rather do laundry than sit down and tackle that tricky scene or piece of dialogue, we have days when re-organising our cupboards seems more appealing than going over chapter 10 for the zillionth time and then we have days when we lose faith totally. Black days. A day when you feel uninspired, worn out by your writing and you begin to doubt your ability. This is normal. Bestselling authors feel this too. Any creative process will have peaks and troughs, times when you wake up in the middle of the night with a genius idea and times when no matter what you do, you just can’t think of how to end that scene. You will have days when you are really proud of what you’ve written and days when you think it is awful. It is part of the rough and tumble of being a writer. Acknowledge this, embrace it and when those darker moments do come around, here’s how to pick yourself up and fall back in love with writing again.
Top 7 tips to fall in love with your writing
1. DON’T GET OVERWHELMED
No one ever sat down and said, “Today I shall pen the greatest literary masterpiece the world has ever seen.” It’s WAY too much pressure. Don’t be too hard on yourself – set yourself tasks and goals that are achievable, otherwise you may be too intimidated to even start writing.
Last week, I met an author who has been writing a 6-volume adventure story for over 15 years – an impressive undertaking. He was really excited about the fact he hoped to finish the first volume this year, having plotted everything out. He broke down a huge task into smaller, less terrifying ones and feels a great sense of achievement when each of the smaller tasks are finished. Break your writing down into manageable tasks and create to-do lists to work through and cross off, e.g. “Re-write the opening to chapter 1” or “Sharpen the dialogue in scene x”, or it could even be as simple as “Finish the first draft of chapter 2”.
2. TAKE A BREAK WHEN YOU’RE STRUGGLING
Given the fluid and creative nature of the writing process, there will be moments where writing just doesn’t feel right. You might get the dreaded writers’ block, or you might just feel out of ideas for a certain chapter or character. Some authors would just plough through this and edit it later, but personally I find it better to take a break and do something different and then come back to it.
Charlaine Harris believes that when you are struggling with writing, it might be because you have created a problem that you can’t identify. You may have tried something with a character or plot function that has not quite worked. Obviously, it may be tricky to isolate that one thing that isn’t working to address it, so she recommends reading the whole thing from the beginning to get a better perspective on what’s not working and why.
3. ACCEPT THAT YOU WON’T GET IT RIGHT FIRST TIME
Don’t give yourself a hard time if it’s not perfect the first time around. Even prize-winning writers revise and rewrite their own work before going on to work with editors to tweak and improve it. You can’t start the journey towards the right answer if you don’t even try any answer. You can always go back and change it later. Just get something down.
Accept that you won’t get it right first time. Your first draft is exactly that, which means you cannot expect every single sentence to flow perfectly first time. Do not compare your work in progress to somebody else’s finished book!
4. REMIND YOURSELF WHY YOU DO IT
In those dark moments, when everything seems pointless, it is important to remind yourself why you are writing in the first place. It may be to start a new career as an author, it may be to share an experience you have had, it may be to pass on your knowledge of something. Whatever it is, it is sure to be important so write it down and stick it by your computer so that every time you sit down to write, you remember the bigger picture.
5. TAKE YOUR WRITING ON A DATE
Writing retreats work because you can think very differently about your writing in different settings. Not all of us have the money to go to a beautiful sunny villa and write, but most of us could take our laptop to a nice coffee shop or even your local library. The idea is that you write somewhere that you like to be. Your writing becomes your excuse to go there.
6. A PROBLEM SHARED…
Is a problem halved. Sitting at home alone, going over the same problem in your mind again and again will hamper your productivity. Join a local writers group – take your tricky writing issues to the group and ask for advice. You will make friends in a lovely writing environment and your writing will improve as a result of peer feedback. To get the most out of feedback, whether from friends, family or fellow writers, download our feedback questionnaire here.
7. STAY NIMBLE WITH WRITING EXERCISES
Flex your writing muscles, get a fresh perspective, and teach your inner writer new tricks by regularly making time for quick writing exercises. A short piece in a totally different genre on a totally different subject can help you develop skills that will benefit your manuscript as well as keep the creative juices flowing. Our editors have developed a package of 25 writing prompts that can get you going when you feel out of inspiration or you need a quick break from larger writing projects.
We hope we have helped you to fall in love with writing again. If you have any other useful tips to share with fellow writers, please add them in the comments box below.