Confession Time: I don’t have it all together. Not by far.
This past winter, my life was chaos. It began with holiday prep in late November; moved into Christmas craziness, an extended family visit, and the epic project that was rebranding my website; 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!"?
I do keep a daily writing habit, and while I was able to maintain this ritual over those few months, I was only doing the bare minimum…and even then out of sheer self-discipline.
I didn’t realize until early this February just how much I had fallen out of love with my 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!
Have you ever heard the phrase...
“I’m married to my work.”
There’s a good bit of truth to it, in my opinion.
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.
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’ll never fall in love with a hobby 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. You have an interest in writing, but is it something you truly want to dedicate your time to pursuing? 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 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 craft of writing.
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 class 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 aided 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 quickly.
That’s why I’ve made a daily writing habit my personal ritual. Without it, I might have given up on writing long ago.
And while a daily writing routine may not be the right choice for every writer, consistency IS key. 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. For your relationship with your writing to grow, you must continually invest in it. This 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 analyzing the books you read, 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), you can likely look back on your life and identity where each of these five steps came into play.
Or maybe you’re now realizing you stopped short at step #4 or #5 and need to begin putting in the time and investing in activities that will take your writing 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 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 to rebuild 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. Why?
Because my recent writing rut wasn’t the first I’ve encountered.
When I looked back, I discovered that I’d followed a pattern when pulling myself out of past writing ruts. This time, I hope to speed up the process by acknowledging and harnessing this pattern to my benefit.
Ready to do the same? Let’s explore my process:
Step #1: Face the Facts. You can’t live in denial. For months, I subconsciously denied that my writing life had been blown off-kilter. Months.
It was only when I began planning my next steps after the launch of my rebranded site that I actually ran smack into the truth of how much my writing had suffered.
I can tell you from experience: the sooner you take a deep breathe and face the fact that your writing life has issues—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? Do you have doubts that compromise your confidence? Are you afraid of writing a personal or painful story, or are you overwhelmed by all that writing a novel requires?
I’ll be honest: overwhelm was 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 on a new project, but something told me it wasn’t the right choice. Not when I had so many other irons in the fire. 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, dun!
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?
In many cases, the source of your emotions will be clear (as mine were above), but sometimes you’ll 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 inner self. 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 disappoint 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 joy, that there was little point in nurturing my writing when I often couldn’t nurture myself. Little did I know that writing could be the perfect way to do just that.
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 after just pulling ourselves out of the pit. First, we need to limp a little. Then we can walk, then sprint, then run.
Begin with a small goal. Something easily attainable—whatever that is for you. For me, that means writing for 20 minutes a day. No pressure. No worries about publishing. Just for fun.
Whatever your goal, stick with it day after day until your fingers begin itching for more, until you can hardly sit still. 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.
For some, this could take a matter of weeks. For others, it may take months or even years. The important thing to remember 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 struggling to love your writing life, too? You are not alone, my friend. Our passions will always be worth fighting for, and together we can pull ourselves out of this muck.
Have any questions about today’s topic? Don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments below. I’ll be your personal writing love guru for as long as you need me!