Confession Time: I don’t have it all together. Not by far.
The last few months of my life have been chaos.
It began with holiday prep around late November; moved into Christmas craziness, an extended family visit, and the epic project that was rebranding She’s Novel into Well-Storied; and ended with me waking up in February to realize that my writing life had dwindled to nearly non-existent.
Can I get a "whoops!"?
Now, I do keep a daily writing habit (you can read about why I do so here), and I was able to maintain this ritual over these past few months, writing for just a few brief moments each day.
But what I didn’t realize until February was just how much I had fallen out of love with writing…or rather, just how much I had lost touch with the writing that I love. There truly hasn’t been a day in months when I've sat down to work with any measure of joy or motivation.
And that’s just sad, isn't it?
Enter today’s article, inspired by my epic mission to reconnect with my stories and fall head-over-heels in love with my writing life all over again!
If you’re struggling with the same, this is exactly the right article for you, my friend. Let's get started.
Have you ever heard the phrase...
“I’m married to my work.”
There’s a good bit of truth to it, in fact.
When you find your life’s passion, you don’t just give OF yourself to make it happen; your passion nurtures YOU in return. It’s a relationship! And understanding how human relationships work can go a long way in teaching us how to build healthy relationships with our life's passion.
(In retrospect, I totally should have had this article ready for last week’s Valentine’s Day. It would have been perfect! *shakes fist at the sky*)
Let’s begin by looking at the five key steps that helped us fall in love with our writing in the first place. Why? Because you just might discover that your current writing struggles are a result of losing sight of the basics. So let's recap!
Step #1: Attraction. You’re never going to fall in love with a hobby that you just aren’t attracted to. So think back. What first interested you in writing? Was it a love for storytelling? The desire to get your thoughts out of your head and down onto paper? A more creative way to journal?
For me, it was definitely storytelling. Most kids stop playing make--believe after a certain age. I suppose I never did. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Step #2: Exploration. So you have an interest in writing. But is it something you really want to dedicate a large portion of your life to? You won't know if you don’t first explore what the writing life is all about.
Read writing blogs, learn about famous authors, play around with writing prompts, and begin wrangling story snippets onto the page. In carving out just a few minutes every day to explore your new interest, you'll be able to determine if it's truly the right hobby for you.
Step #3: Emotional Connection. Remember when we talked about how relationships should give AND take? If you find yourself giving and giving and giving to your writing but not getting anything in return, you’re missing out on a valuable connection. A connection that will help your writing thrive.
For me, the emotional connection came when I began exploring the writing world.
With every new technique I learned and every story snippet I dreamed up, I felt my excitement and inspiration grow. I could hardly wait to get home from school to tap out my latest musings. (I even wrote in school when I was supposed to be working on essays. Whoops!).
Writing gave me joy. It served to aid me in understanding myself and expanding my worldview, and it helped me cope during times of deep loneliness and depression.
What is your writing doing for you?
Step #4: Put in the Time. Relationships don’t flourish if you never make the time to nurture them. That's exactly why prioritizing your schedule to make room for writing is so important. Without some sort of routine, your relationship is bound to burn out...and quick.
That’s why I’ve made a daily writing habit my personal ritual. Without it, I might have given up on writing a long time ago!
And while a daily writing routine may not be the right choice for every author, consistency IS key for everyone. Show up frequently, even when the writing gets tough. You'll never get anywhere if you bow out the moment your inspiration flags.
Step #5: Invest in Your Writing. Your relationship with your writing will never grow strong unless you continually invest in it. That means more than just sitting down to spend some time with your writing; it means making an effort to intentionally expand your knowledge and skill set.
By reading writing reference books and blogs, listening to writing podcasts, and so on, you make intentional growth a priority in your writing life. You invest.
You can continue to invest in your writing by reading often and reading critically and by getting involved in writing communities that will inspire and support you.
If you know you’re in love with your writing (even if you’re not feelin’ it too much right now), then you can likely look back on your life and identity where each of these five steps came into play for you.
Or maybe you’re just now realizing that you stopped short at step #4 or #5 and need to start putting in the time and investing in your writing so you can take it to the next level. If so, what are you waiting for? Go, go, go!
But what happens if you can identify these moments in your life, yet you know you’ve since fallen into a writing rut of pretty epic proportions?
It’s time to take a look at the six steps we can take to rediscover our love for writing…the very same six steps I’m currently working through in my own writing life!
How to Rediscover Your Love for Writing...
Can you really rediscover your joy and motivation in just six steps? And can a system really pull you out of the muck? I believe it can. But why?
Because my recent writing rut wasn’t the first I’ve encountered.
When I looked back, I discovered that I indeed followed a pattern when pulling myself out of past writing ruts. Only this time, I hope to speed up the process by acknowledging and harnessing this pattern to my benefit.
Join me in doing the same? Let's explore my system:
Step #1: Face the Facts. You can’t live in denial. For months, I subconsciously denied the fact that my writing life was off-kilter. Months. It was only when I began planning my next steps after the launch of Well-Storied that I actually ran smack into the truth of how much my writing was suffering.
I can tell you from experience: the sooner you take a deep breathe and face the fact that your writing life has problems----no matter how painful that might be----the sooner you'll get your writing life back on track.
Step #2: Confront Your Emotions. Once you’ve acknowledged the issues in your writing life, it’s time to ask yourself how you’re feeling.
Are you worn down mentally or emotionally? Have doubts compromise your confidence? Are you afraid of writing a painful scene, or are you simply overwhelmed by your writing progress?
I’ll be honest: overwhelm is the kicker for me. I've been working on several projects, all in different stages of writing and editing, for a few years now. After finishing up a draft in October, I ran into a problem: what was I going to work on next?
I began in on a new project, but something told me that wasn’t the right choice. Not when I had so many other projects in development. So I stepped back to get some breathing space, to think about where I was going to head next.
The only problem? Life got crazy, and I never got around to deciding on my next steps. And each day I tried to work without direction, I got sucked further and further into my pit of writing despair. *Dun, DUN, DUNNNN*
Step #3: Identify the Source. Once you know how you’re feeling, it’s time to figure out WHY you’re feeling that way. What sparked your fear, your overwhelm, your exhaustion, or your doubts?
The source of your emotions is likely clear (as mine were above), but sometimes you might find yourself unsure of what’s holding you back.
In that case, you’ll need to take some quiet time to think and reflect. Shut out all distractions, find a comfy place to sit, and get up close and personal with your feelings. Keeping asking yourself why, why, why until you come to a moment of clarity.
That may sound a little odd or a bit too uncomfortable for you, but don’t skip this step. If you don’t know why you lost sight of your love for writing, you’ll never know how to regain it.
Step #4: Understand Where You’re Lying to Yourself. The other week, we talked about the Lie your character believes and how it serves to spark conflict in your main character arc. This same principal goes for you as a writer.
We all live with doubts, which are simply lies that we tell ourselves when we're afraid. And the lies you let yourself believe are often at the root of your writing problems.
For me, there were two lies that tried to break up my happy relationship with writing life.
First, I believed that if I didn’t publish soon, I’d be a disappoint to my blog readers. I often get lovely comments expressing interest in my fiction and asking when I'll publish. The demand is there, so I feared that if I didn't publish soon, people would begin to think me a fraud.
Secondly, I believed that my depression would never allow to me write with any sort of consistency, that there was little point in working so hard when I often found myself unable to work at all.
Both of these lies crippled me for a time, but I don't have to let them anymore.
And that’s the key here!
The lies we tell ourselves aren’t real. They’re figments of our imagination, of our fear. And the good news is that fear can be overcome. All we have to is face it. Which leads us to...
Step #5: Commit to the Fight. Are you willing to fight for your stories? Is your writing life something you love enough to rebuild? Then it’s time to commit, my friend.
But what does that look like? Well, it looks like starting small.
We can’t expect ourselves to pump out thousands of words just after pulling ourselves out of the pit. First, we need to limp a little. Then we can walk, then sprint, then run.
So choose a small goal. Something easily attainable----whatever that is for you. For me, that means writing 20 minutes today. No pressure. No worries about publishing. Just for fun.
Continue to stick to this small goal day after day until your fingers are itching for more, until you can hardly sit still in your seat. That’s when you know it’s time to increase your goal a tiny bit, to set a new pace until you can't help but write even more.
You can then rinse and repeat this process until you’re finally back in top form.
For some, this could take a matter of weeks. For others, it could take months or even years. The important thing is that all progress is good progress. Every step brings you closer to where you want to be: completely head-over-heels in love with your writing.
Step #6: Take the Pressure Off. Remember, conflict is not your friend. We all face doubts and fears from time to time. The key is to recognize each little lie as it tries to worm its way into your happy writing life so you can stop it in its tracks.
So take the pressure off.
Remind your fears that they aren’t real, and counteract your doubts every chance you get. The fight doesn’t stop the moment the writing gets good. But if you continue to invest good, positive energy in your stories day after day, you WILL fall in love with your writing all over again.
I guarantee it.
Are you currently struggling to love your writing life, too? You are not alone, my friend. But together, I think we can pull ourselves out of this muck. Our passions will always be worth fighting for.
Have any questions about today’s topic? Don’t hesitate to hit me up in the comments below. I’ll be your personal writing love guru for as long as you need me!