How to Stay in Love with Writing
What contributes for you, personally, to fall out of love? To make you ask, why am I even bothering?
Negative feedback, not enough time, not being supported, etc.
The number one thing contributing to wanting to quit: rejection after rejection.
Fear of being a one-book-wonder, gambling time/energy and not knowing whether it’ll pan out.
In a poll of 80+ writers, more than 62% had thought seriously about quitting, or had quit for a short period of time (a year, or more than a year).
Four keys for keeping the love alive
1. Hold onto the joy. Remember those days when words are pouring out, when you are having fun, chasing that shines new idea.
-> love lists, write lists of things you love about what you’re writing, what made you want to write it in the first place. Think if you had to rewrite the entire book and could only keep 3 things from the original, what are those three things: setting? a particular kissing scene? something cool you created? These are the beginning of your love list. when you’re stalled, when you think it’s the most terrible thing you’ve every written.
-> magic cookies, figuratively. When you’re in the planning, early writing stage, all those sparkly fun things you are excited to get to, excited to write in the future, what are those? A spoon stealing grandmother, a particular fun setting, etc. Write those magic cookie scenes to pull you forward through the story.
-> secret projects, projects that are just for you, an audience of one. No rules, put all the crazy weirdness you want, have fun, play with words. If it turns into something, awesome, but the goal can’t be publication, it has to be fun/joy -> nurturing your creativity.
-> redefining success & failure. Commercial success is different from creative goals. Are you creating? Success! Are you growing, daring, play? Success! When you define success that way, it redefines failure. Are you NOT creating, daring, playing? Fail!
2. Find your tribe
-> cheerleaders, we need encouragers, people who remind us what we’re doing right
-> truth tellers, who can be both brutally honest and unfailingly kind
-> shoulder-sharers, those who are on the same journey together, who understand, who also go through this rollercoaster
3. Own it…
->This journey is yours, walk the whole journey, don’t be afraid to walk the whole thing, highs and lows
->What are the highs? When the scenes come together, getting your words done in one hour instead of six, the first moment of shiny idea, when your characters surprise you, when the reader laughs where they’re supposed to, acceptance/validation, even if it isn’t a sale.
-> recognize, embrace these highs, and enjoy them, big or small. They’re a big deal, celebrate. Employ them, use them to get you through the low times. Keep an encouragement file.
-> What about the lows? Expect them and accept them. If you’re sending stuff out, you’re going to get rejections. Not that you shouldn’t be hopeful, but know that, statistical speaking, rejections are part of the deal. Jealousy is normal, whether about a stranger’s success, or writers close to you. “Good news blues” When there’s good news everywhere, it makes us feel our own lack of good news even stronger. Other people are going through the same things. Release them. Let them go. Take the time to wallow, mourn, put an expired date on your misery and move on. It’s normal, but don’t get stuck there. There will be more highs and lows in the future.
4. Buckle Up, protect/arm yourself.
-> Expectations, managing them. There is no ‘should’ of when accomplishments should happen. There’s no set timeline, it won’t match up to anyone else’s.
-> Firewalls, things we consciously do to protect ourselves, so what are our triggers? What are the tough issues you struggle with and use the other tools to recognize these triggers early on and avoid them or step back. Take time off. If you get to a point where this isn’t helping, that you can’t muster the will to write, is this more? Watch out for your mental health if you can’t pull yourself out.
->Roadblocks, things that weren’t in the manual when we signed up for this writing life: self-doubt/imposter syndrome -> you have to believe your stories matter. Self judgement, fear of failure, we don’t finish things because a little voice whispers that it is’t good enough -> let go of perfectionist. Mantra: create something, send it out into the world, create something else. Once it’s sent out, it’s out of your hands. Focus on what you can control. When you run out of gas, out of creativity, take a break and fill the well, go to a museum, go for a walk, read a good book, then come back to writing. Put it into perspective, there’s more to life than the writing, worse things than a rejection letter.
Now, fan the flame…
Think back on what we talked about, and what are you going to take home with you? What are you going to do differently?