Has writing your novel lost its luster?
You started writing with all kinds of ideas and energy and excitement, but now that you’re in the muddy middle, it all just feels a little blah, a little hard. Sitting down and forcing yourself to write feels about as much fun as riding the New York City subway without air conditioning in the middle of August – icky.
Let me share three reasons you might be finding the writing process less than enjoyable and a few ways to fix that.
Your characters are feeling dull
Now, one reason for this might just be that you need a break, because you are so involved in your characters and their lives, it all becomes repetitive, but if you don’t feel like you know your characters very well or you’re not writing them in an exciting way, that’s when you need to take a step back and talk to your characters.
I suggest interviewing them, asking them some questions like:
What do you need me to know today?
What do you need me to know about your story?
What can you tell me about “other character names here”?
Why aren’t you doing what I want you to do?
Or, you can do one of my favorite things – journal as if you were them! You can do this in a physical journal and hand write or you can do this in a word document. Basically just pretend you are your character and pick a day, either from your book or from before your book started, and write the journal entry as if you are them. It tells you a lot about their quirks, their habits, how they speak to themselves, what they share when no one else is around. It can be very, very insightful.
Another fun thing I like to do, especially when things are feeling stagnant, is throw all the characters into one scene and throw something big at them. Even if this is not something that’s going to be in your book later, it can still be a lot of fun and give you some insights into how your characters interact with each other and handle the pressure of a new situation. An example would be having them all at one party, now this works for me because I write young adult books, but you can also have them all at a bar or the office, and then I might decide that police show up to shut the party down. How do each of my main characters react to that? And write as if you’re going to hit all of your characters, write from their point of view – again, even if this isn’t how your book is set up, it gives you time in each of their heads to find out more about them and their quirks, their habits, their issues.
Your plots feels a little flat
Again, you might just be tired of writing and need a break – and that’s cool, or it might mean that you need to add a few things into your plot, some new ideas to add tension or conflict. I like to brainstorm by using Tarot cards, and you can watch the video above to see a real-world example, but you can also just start writing down new thoughts, ideas, and come up with something to add to your plot now that you are further along that you maybe didn’t think of back when you were first starting out writing or working on your outline.
Maybe it’s not so much the plot itself, but the next few chapters you need to write aren’t exciting you but a chapter or scene a few bullet points down is. Give yourself permission to write out of order. I don’t always do this, but something you are just too jazzed about an upcoming scene and writing that will do two things. One, you’ll keep up the momentum and excitement you were feeling at the beginning on a project. And two, it will show you that you might need to punch up the chapters or scenes you skipped to make them more exciting.
The words are just feeling super weird when you write them
If the words sound weird, and this is what’s causing the writing process to now seem fun, add in something new to your writing ritual. I like to have special things that I do before, during, and after I write. For me, I like to pull a Tarot card, light a candle and play a pump up playlist to get me super hyped for writing. During my session I’ll have a vision board, Tarot card, or my Big Why somewhere close by to remind me of why I’m telling this story and I usually also play music while I write. Afterwards I reward myself with chocolate, a fancy coffee, some downtime, or time with my family. Creating a writing ritual like this makes the whole process more fun, more magical and makes you happier.
You can also create a reward system so with every five writing sessions, you get a Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts coffee. Of if you write every day for two weeks straight, you get three days off, whatever works for you, but figure out a little reward system. It doesn’t have to be anything huge or expensive, if buying a Starbucks is too much, maybe make yourself a yummy beverage that you only make when you’re done writing or have a run of writing sessions.
I also like to make it a game. I love to use timers and I try to see how many words I can write in 25 minutes. (Note, I’ve been doing this awhile and 25 minutes works for me, but I would start with 10 if you’re new to timers and writing). I set the timer and see how many words I can write within that time frame. Write the number down. The next time I sit down to write, I see if I can “beat” my own number. Let’s say in one session you write 100 words, can you do 110 the next day? 120 the day after that? If this starts to stress you out, please just put this option away and go back to the reward system instead – I don’t want anyone being more flustered and frustrated with their writing, okay? Cool!
The other thing I want you to remember is that our writing feels weird to us, especially in first draft land. We are trying to tell the story that’s in our head and putting it down on paper, and that is a funky process. Just know the words are not always going to feel right. You can’t always be subjective with your own writing and that’s okay. That’s what revisions and beta readers and editors are for, down the road. It’s okay if the words sound a little funky to yourself. Remind yourself that you can always fix things later.
First drafts are messy and that’s okay!
Now that you know the three reasons why sitting down to write may feel hard, which one is hitting you the most right now? And what are you planning on doing this week to make writing more fun? I would love to know in the comments below.
And if you found this helpful, I would love for you to check out my Muddy Middle to Manuscript coaching package where I will walk you through a process of getting very clear on your Big Why, becoming friends with your characters, and we will fix your outline so you can type The End all with a smile on your face.