I’m currently taking a writing, blogging, and coaching sabbatical due to family health issues. For now, I’ll repost selected articles from my Fiction Writing School.
ON: FEBRUARY 7, 2022
Surely there was a time when you said, “I love writing!”
Most people feel that way when they start writing. But after years in the writing business, it’s possible for that feeling to fade.
If that’s happened to you, it’s natural for you to feel nervous. You may wonder if you’ve still “got it” when it comes to writing. You may be afraid that your best writing years are behind you.
Or maybe you wonder if you should be writing at all.
Never fear. If you loved writing once, you can love it again. All it takes is a little time and perhaps one of the following suggestions.
Love Writing Exercise 1: Re-Read Some of Your Old Work
It’s easy to fall out of love with your writing when you’re working on a long project.
You may have come up against obstacles that you had a hard time working through. Maybe you’ve been blocked on the story, or have been unable to finish it for one reason or another.
As weeks, months, or even years pass, the shine can easily wear off of a writing project. What seemed so exciting and full of possibility in the beginning may now seem dull and hopeless.
Try to re-ignite your love of writing by reading something else that you’ve written. Peruse your old files and check out some of your poems, short stories, children’s stories, or other novels.
You may see some passages that make you cringe (as you get better, it’s natural to judge your old works), but it’s also possible you’ll find something that will make you smile or laugh, or that will move you to tears.
When you read your past work, even if it’s not as good as you’d like it to be, it will remind you of your passion for writing. You’ll remember what you felt like when you wrote that piece, and how eager you were to improve your writing skills. That may be enough to turn your thoughts about your writing in a more positive direction.
It could also be that as you read your old stuff, you’ll realize how much better you’ve become! That too can encourage you to go back to your current project because hey, you didn’t see it before, but this is pretty good!
2. Focus on Your Passions
There’s a Willa Cather quote that goes: “A reporter can write equally well about everything that is presented to his view, but a creative writer can do his best only with what lies within the range and character of his deepest sympathies.”
I have found this to be true in my fiction writing. If the story isn’t tapping into something deep within me, I can’t stick with it. It gets boring.
If you’ve fallen out of love with your writing, it could be because you’re just not passionate about the story. Maybe the plot, characters, setting, or all of the above don’t resonate with you. You don’t care about it as much as you thought you would.
Consider too that you’re not writing about what you want to write about because it scares you. This is one of the most common reasons writers shy away from their “deepest sympathies.” If you suspect this may be the case, try tip #4 to see if that helps.
Either way, remember that when you’re writing, you need to write about what you’re passionate about. If you’re not doing that, the feeling is likely to be missing.
Love Writing Exercise 3: Plan a Retreat
Sometimes we fall out of love with writing simply because we’re burned out.
It happens a lot. Writers are frequently overworked and overwhelmed. With so much of the marketing and platform-building now on our shoulders, we can easily become over-booked and find ourselves running around like chickens with our heads cut off.
If, after a book launch, website revamp, series of interviews, or other similar situation, you feel like writing has become a chore instead of a pleasure, it’s time to plan a retreat. What you need is some time away from all the marketing and platform-building and all the rest to get back to what matters—the writing.
Even just four days in a different location (away from home) can be enough to jumpstart your creativity and get you excited about your story again.
4. Take 10 Minutes to Freewrite Something New
After writing steadily for a while, you may have inadvertently locked yourself into what you “should” write or what you think is your writing arena.
But life changes things. Maybe you started out writing fantasy, but a decade later, you find yourself bored with it. Or maybe horror was your thing, but now you’ve experienced a big life-changing event and you can’t muster the passion for horror that you used to have.
This is when you need to find out where you are as a writer now. The best way to do that is to put all your old projects away. Clear the deck. Then take a week or two to free-write every morning.
The time you spend is up to you. The important thing is to let your creative muse take you where it wants to. Instead of “writing,” try “listening.” Tune into your gut and your heart. Abandon your preconceived notions. Let your writing be like a meditation. Close your eyes and let your fingers fly.
Do this for a few days and see if something new emerges that excites you. If it does, follow where it leads.
Keep your expectations out of it! Don’t worry about whether it will become a publishable work or whether you’ll earn money with it. Forget all of that and just write for the joy of writing—and for the discovery you might make about yourself.
Love Writing Exercise 5: Focus on Educating Yourself
Let’s face it—sometimes we get frustrated with our writing because it’s simply not living up to our expectations for it.
This usually points to one solution—we need to become better writers. There are many ways to do that.
I always start with books. Find one that talks about the writing craft and read it. Consider how what’s suggested may apply to your story.
Other options include hiring an editor, signing on to a workshop, entering a contest (that provides feedback), or attending a conference.
Even if you’re feeling discouraged, you may be surprised at how quickly learning more about writing can turn things around for you. It can open up possibilities, and help you come up with ideas you never would have thought of before.
When you go back to try that new idea, it can spark new energy for your story so that soon, you find yourself loving it once again.
How do you recharge your love of writing?