We sweat and fret over ideas and whether they’re good enough; we worry no one will like it or worse, will laugh or scoff. We even try to write things that we really don’t want to write, just because those things seem more important, worthy subjects than the ones we want to write.
Like the romance writer who forces herself to write literary fiction, or the guy who wants to write academic articles but forces himself to write movie reviews.
My point is, there’s nothing wrong with either literary fiction or movie reviews, but if your heart lies elsewhere you have to find some way to be true to it or you’ll suck all the joy out of your writing. If you’re finding a lack of fun with writing, put any or all of these five tips to use and rediscover why you started writing in the first place.
Write For the Sake Of It
When you started writing, I’m betting you did it just for the fun of it. Maybe you had a story idea, or you simply enjoyed watching the words appear on the page.
Whatever, you did it just because you wanted to. You probably never considered publication or writing for an audience. You probably never even considered whether anyone else would read it. You wrote just because it was fun, and answered some deep calling within your soul.
Write like that again.
Write just for the hell of it. Just to see the words appear. Just to experience the joy and exhilaration of letting a story unfold as you type or write longhand.
Silence that little voice that’s telling you to write something else, and allow yourself time to enjoy the process once more.
Forget All the Rules
Start sentences with ‘and’ or ‘but’, split those infinitives, end your sentences with a preposition, use passive voice and to hell with spelling and good grammar.
Let the words tumble out in whatever order your brain flirts them at you.
Write. Just write. Nothing else matters. Get back into the excitement of creation and let your muse take over.
Don’t second guess Yourself
When you start questioning whether or not your writing is any good, it’s time to write even harder and faster.
When you get an idea, start writing it down. Don’t ask yourself whether it’s a good idea because if you stop to do that it’ll evaporate like the morning mist. Just grab it and go.
All ideas are good ideas until they prove themselves otherwise or get replaced by better ones. Give your ideas a chance to grow and blossom instead of strangling them at birth by questioning their worth.
Don’t Edit as You Go
Stop to edit and you lose your thread. Never mind if you’ve missed a word, spelled something wrong or can’t remember the name of a certain thing.
If there’s a gap in your memory or something you need to research, write XXX in the place where you need to look into something and keep going. XXX marks the spot. You won’t forget to look it up, and you won’t lose your train of thought either. Win/win.
Don’t worry about spacing, or formatting, or sentence length, or paragraph structure. Just get it written. When you’re creating, create. After creating comes editing. Don’t try to do both at the same time or you’ll end up never getting past the first page.
Write Just for Yourself
No one will see what you’re writing unless you choose to show them, so write just for you. It really doesn’t matter whether you’ve produced a best-seller or purple prose that will never see the light of day.
What matters is that you wrote something, and that you wrote from the heart. What matters is that your words pleased you as you wrote them, and gave you the thrill of creation.
You’re likely to be the harshest critic you’ll ever have to face once your piece is written, so cut yourself some slack and revel in the joy of writing while you’re actually doing it.
Do you have any favourite strategies to put the joy back in your writing if and when you lose it? I’d love to hear them. Leave a comment and let me know.