Writing is fun, pleasurable, fulfilling. It’s your passion, your love, your life!
Except of course, when it’s not.
This past month I tackled Camp Nanowrimo (shout out to my cabin-mates The Nameless Warriors!). Everything started out great. I was brimming with enthusiasm and I hit the ground running. The first couple of days I was on fire. I was feeling good, meeting my word count goals, and I was on track for success. I was having fun!
And then, all too soon, it wasn’t fun anymore.
My progress screeched to a halt, my enthusiasm evaporated, and I was left feeling bitter and demotivated. Despite how painful writing had become I forced myself to keep going and dismissed the initial high and subsequent rock bottom low as all part and parcel of taking on a challenge that comes with a deadline and pressure to succeed. I made it halfway through July before I broke down.
Why is this so hard? I asked myself. I had set a reasonable goal and I was making time to write, but writing had become a serious bummer. It was a drag and I simply didn’t want to force myself to do it anymore. And that’s when it hit me. I write for the love of writing, but in the thick of Camp Nanowrimo writing had become a chore. The usual joy I received from writing had completely disappeared.
I had found myself in the typical ‘all work and no play’ scenario, and my writing life had become dull.
Writing should be fun. You should do it because you love it, but everything that requires commitment is, at some point, not going to be fun. That’s just the way it is. You love your kid. Is parenting a non-stop joy ride? NO! It’s not fun to change poopy diapers, clean up vomit, or stay up all night with a screeching infant. You love your career, but is it fun to get up every single weekday to a squealing alarm, drag yourself out of your cozy bed and go spend the entire day in an office? NOPE! Nothing in life is ALWAYS fun. Most things are only occasionally fun. And that my friends, is just the way it is.
Writing is not going to be fun all the time. Writing is a job. It’s a job I love, but it’s also a lot of work. There are good days and bad days. During Camp Nanowrimo I had a string of bad days, and I had to remind myself that it’s okay for writing to feel like a chore sometimes. I also had to remind myself that writing is fun, just not all the time, and that is why I do it.
This is how I reclaimed my joy and remembered how fun it is to be a writer:
- Why this story? It’s easy to forget why you decided to tell your story in the first place. When I hit a low point this July I read over some of the frenzied notes I had scribbled when my story was a fresh new idea. These old brainstorming exercises re-ignited my imagination. I remembered why I was devoted to this story and these characters, and why it was FUN to play in this particular fictional world. Reconnecting with why I love my story gave me the motivation to keep writing.
- Find inspiration. Halfway through Camp Nanowrimo I was running on empty. I had neglected to re-charge my batteries. I’m the kind of author that needs a steady stream of new experiences to keep the ideas flowing. I hadn’t been stopping to smell the roses and that’s why my writing was so painfully stale. So mid-July I decided to start reading a new book, take myself to see a movie, and find a different route for my evening walks. And boy did those small things help! I also began taking a notebook with me everywhere. I jotted down whatever struck me as interesting – from the silly to the profound. I brought my notebook into the movie theater, took it along for my walks, and woke up in the middle of the night to jot down illegible scribbles. My notebook became fertile soil for creative seeds, and as I finished up Camp Nanowrimo I always had a source of inspiration to reference.
- Take a vacation. When you’re toiling under a deadline it’s hard to allow yourself to take breaks, but when you really hit a wall you can’t afford not to. If you’re stuck in quicksand, the harder you fight, the more it pulls you in. Mid-July I gave myself permission to take breaks. I like to think of these breaks as fun mini-vacations. I listened to an audiobook with a talented voice actor, I read for pleasure, watched a favorite action-adventure flick, and went out for eclectic fusion food (if you guys are ever in need of a restaurant recommendation in the Twin Cities let me know!). And after these mini-vacations I was able to return to my writing refreshed and ready to make progress. Perhaps the best sort of vacation to take when you’re slogging toward a writing deadline is to write something else, something fun! The funnest thing you can dream up! Because you know what’s fun? WRITING! Writing is fun. And that, more than anything else, is why we decided to do it and why we continue to do it. So go back to your old fanfiction and write a new scene, or google ridiculous writing prompts, or check out one of my favorite writing references: 642 Things to Write About. The best way to remember how fun it is to be a writer is to (duh!) write something fun.
I achieved my Camp Nanowrimo goal, woohoo! It wasn’t easy and it certainly wasn’t always fun but it had it’s moments of triumph and joy, and that, dear writing friends, is what it’s all about. Let me know how you did with your July goals. I’d love to hear how you stay inspired when the going gets tough.
Stay tuned for more SS Press awesomeness!
Peace & Love, Kayla