Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Why Can't It Be All Fun and Games?

Sometimes writing can feel a lot like picking up rocks from one pile and dropping them on another. And then once you've moved all the rocks from the first pile to the second, you start moving them from the second pile to a third, and so on and so on and...well, you get the idea. That doesn't even cover dealing with the how-tos and how-not-tos and shoulds and coulds and woulds. And you know what all that adds up to, don't you? That's right.


Writing shouldn't feel like drudgery. It should be fun and creative. You should feel like you're free when you write. Admit it, isn't that what attracted you to writing in the first place? That, or something along those lines? No one in their right mind sits down and says, I know what I'll do, I'll write a novel. That's an easy way to make big bucks. Or maybe I should put it this way, no one who has ever attempted to write a novel has ever come away saying it was easy (I'm sure there are exceptions to that, but trust me when I say I don't want to hear about them ;).

So we start out writing to be creative or free or have fun or tell a good story, or some other positive reason. And somewhere along the way the act of writing turns into drudgery. Something to be avoided. Something to dread. Something, dare I say it, not unlike work.

It happens. Maybe not to every writer, but I bet it's happened to a lot of us. Come on, show of hands. How many writers out there have experienced this at least once? Yeah, me too. Well, at some point, unless this writing is truly a hobby, most writers have to come to terms with the fact that writing is a job, and even jobs we love can sometimes feel like work. What do we do when that happens?

I can only speak for myself and say, it depends. About the only thing that stays constant for me when this happens is the need to take a step back. What changes is how big a step back I take and what I do once I'm there. Generally, though, I find taking a small step back and finding something in what I've written that I can be proud of does the trick. It may be a small thing, a sentence I'm proud of or a line of dialogue, so long as it's enough to keep me going.

When I need to take that bigger step back, it's usually because I need to remind myself why I write and ask myself the hard question: is it worth it? So far, the couple of times I've felt the need to ask that question the answer has been an unqualified Yes! I'll cross the No bridge if I ever come to it.

What do you do when you feel like writing has become work -- or maybe just something unpleasant you find yourself avoiding? How do you get back on track?


Paty Jager said...

Good post, Debbie! I'm kind of at that point right now. I'm working on the fifth Halsey book because fans have asked for it and I need to get it done and move one. But I'm finding myself consantly doing promotion or setting up the next self-pub project rather than writing the book that needs to be written. And I love the hero and heroine, I'm just having a hard time getting back into writing from being so far removed all summer I think.

Writing has always been my release for creativity and the characters in my head. When it becomes a drudge I write in another genre that has been calling to me. Or start researchign another book that will be written after the one I'm working on now. That way I have something exciting to look forward to when I finish the one that has become not as fun as I thougth it would be.

Sarah Raplee said...

I do it anyway. I may step back and read some articles, take an online class, take my laptop out of the Cave to be around people as I work. I go out for coffee with a writer friend or any supportive friend.

And if I'm really discouraged, I practice Do-It-Yourself Therapy, which I will explain in my post this week.

Genene Valleau said...

Thoughtful post, Debbie!

I decided many years ago I put too much of myself into "work" to have a career I don't love, and writing is one of those passions.

There may be parts of writing I stall doing, but that's usually a sign I've taken a wrong turn in my story and need to back up and fix it to get back on track. Or because I've overcommitted myself and need to exercise my "no" muscle to other things. :)

If I get to the point I dread writing--or anything else--I allow a few moments to wallow, then I look at how much I have to be grateful for. There's not much in my life I "have" to do. Most is what I choose to do. That perspective is very freeing and usually snaps me out of whining. If not, I just put one foot in front of another--or write one word and then another--until momentum keeps me going forward. Maybe not much finesse in that method, but it works for me.

(Love the Cinderella graphic, by the way. I'm taking that to mean we can all be the princesses in our own stories, not that we'll turn into pumpkins at midnight. :)