I go through cycles of my author journey where writing feels really carefree, fun, amazing, and then there are downright muddy, painful, and just plain hard times too. I’m in a hard phase right now, as you know from last month but I’ve decided instead of just staying in the muck, I’m going to pull from my bag of tricks and work on making the writing more fun!
I need music to write and edit but with my husband working from home and my son doing remote learning and our apartment being just a tiny bit too small it’s hard to find a space to play music, but since I’ve started writing more in the morning before everyone wakes up, my headphones have become my new best friend. It’s been so nice to listen to my Etta and Gina playlist while I work on my novel again.
I’ve talked about timers before but seriously, playing beat the clock and doing quick sprints creates so much fun. Set a fifteen-minute timer and I try to see how many new words I can write, or how many paragraphs I can edit. Or even how many toys I can pick up or how many dishes I can clean. Pair this with music and my next tip – rewards – and you have a quick burst of energy and some good work getting done.
Coffee is my number one reward when I write in the morning, but I also like to have weekly rewards for hitting my writing session goals. Time with a cup of tea and a magazine, time to just lay on the couch and watch an old movie (the Back to the Future trilogy is on Netflix – FYI), or just time to put on a face mask and lay down with my eyes closed. Lovely!
The old joke about real estate (location, location, location) is true – if you’re used to writing in a certain spot, or going out of your house to write, and that isn’t feasible or working right now – switch it up. Usually write at your desk? Write on the couch! Usually head to a coffee house and that’s not possible right now? Find a jazzy radio station, brew up a fancy coffee in your own kitchen, and try sitting at your dining room table! Typing not working? Try a quick walk in your neighborhood while you dictate some words to your phone. Write in bed, write on paper using a pen, just try something different. Take notes and think of it like an experiment – you never know, you might find a place or a situation that just works!
Sometimes, the only thing you can do to get out of a funk is work on your limiting beliefs. If I’m thinking, “This isn’t fun anymore!” then I’m not going to have fun the next time either, it becomes harder to start writing. I use daily affirmations that I write down to help me stay on track, but when I get into a real funk sometimes I have to journal my thoughts out and see what’s going on. Lately, I’ve realized that I was more worried about the end result and not about the process – which is a real problem for me. So I worked on those issues with daily affirmations. For example, Writing is fun. My writing is a joyous process, an adventure I get to take. My characters are friends who I love hanging out with. You get the idea, and it’s cheesy but if you’re writing them down in a notebook or journal – no one is going to see them.
Also, related a little to my mindset and the fact that I was stuck on results and thinking way too far ahead, I gave myself permission to work on whatever made me happy during that writing session. I’ve hopped around and written new chapters instead of working in a linear fashion, chapter one to chapter two, and so forth. If I feel like editing, then I go backward that morning. If I wake up and really just want to work on a blog post or some Instagram posts, then I do that without guilt. If I wake up and really just want to jot down a bunch of ideas for a new story or quickly write a short story (or some bad poetry) – then I do that. Anything to keep writing and to make the whole process FUN.
If you’re a writer – how’s the whole process feeling during this time? If you’re feeling mucky, can you infuse a tiny bit of fun into your writing again? And if you’re a reader – how are you infusing fun into your day? This isn’t just for writers, this is a hard time for everyone and I think we all need some levity, self-care, and rest in our days.