12 Ways to Fall Back in Love With Writing
Every writer in the world falls out of love with writing at one time or another. At least every professional writer does.
That’s because, once you become a professional, writing isn’t only that thing you love to do. It’s also that thing you have to do, because you have deadlines and a mortgage. When you start having to do a thing you love, it becomes a chore sometimes. If those sometimes become more regular, you begin to fall out of love with it.
But here’s the good news.
If you’ve fallen out of love with writing, you can fall back in love with it if you figure out what happened and address it. Here are our favorite dozen ways to do exactly that.
12 Ways to Fall in Love With Writing
1. Up the Ante
Sometimes the problem is it starts to feel like your writing doesn’t matter anymore. The challenges and growth that came quickly when you were starting out are now just an automatic part of the gig. Discovering characters, scenes, and techniques comes less often and less satisfyingly. What had been a glorious exploration of yourself and your craft has become just another item on your to-do list.
Much like you can increase the power of a scene by upping the stakes for the characters, you can make your writing more rewarding by upping the stakes for yourself. How exactly will vary from author to author, but a few common opportunities include:
- Set aggressive goals for your word count or other metrics.
- Start writing for money.
- Start querying higher levels of publication.
- Set goals for time spent writing, with rewards for meeting those goals.
- Show your work to more people, so you get feedback and learn from it.
- Self-publish your work and see what happens.
- Write in areas closer to your heart, where you’re dealing with bigger emotions and personal risks.
Adding just one or two ideas like this will give your writing an edge that cuts to the marrow of why you write. It makes the whole thing exciting once again.
2. Be Kinder to Yourself
Every writer has periods where they doubt their mojo as an author. Their inner editor doesn’t just get loud: she gets snarky, even mean-spirited. In those moments it can be easy to fall out of love with our writing. The sentences bring us less joy than heartache, and we wonder if it’s not just time to give up on the whole thing.
Beat this by making the conscious decision to be kinder to yourself. Stop comparing your writing to giants of your genre and the classics you read in school. Remind yourself that the rough draft doesn’t have to be perfect: that’s why it’s called “rough”! Relax into the process of your writing instead of focusing on the results. Any or all of these can help you judge yourself on a more reasonable and empowering set of metrics, and bring the joy back into your wordcraft.
You can get a lot of benefit also from changing the way you write. Divide your time into writing time and editing time. During writing, you just get the words down with no consideration for craft. Editing comes later, but during writing time the editor isn’t invited to the party.
3. Change Things Up
Although we don’t recommend introducing variety when it comes to spicing up your marriage, it can be just the thing to invigorate your long-term relationship with writing.
Many authors who feel they’ve fallen out of love with writing are in fact just bored with what they’ve been writing for a while. Make a change for a while. If you’ve been plugging away at the same series for ages, write something outside that setting. If you normally write novels, try short stories. Replace poetry with novellas. Nonfiction specialists might trade in book-length projects for short papers and articles.
Even if you stick inside your core writing, you can change your approach. Play with setting, point of view, voice, conflict, and the other building blocks of fiction until you’ve found something new and exciting.
Whatever you do, just do something different. You’ll be surprised how often this does the trick.
4. Go Back in Time
As we write, our relationship with writing changes. We apply different skills, assign new priorities, and change the process by which we approach the craft and its associated tasks. This can often lead to writing in a way that’s less filled with wonder, discovery, and colorful experience. In short, the more it becomes a job or a chore the less fun we have with it. If we let this go on too long, we can fall out of love with what once brought us great joy.
The solution is to go back to writing how you did when you started out. Go back to the project that first insisted that you write regularly toward a goal. Experiment again with styles and formats you haven’t visited in years. Dust off an old manuscript or a favorite character to see what they’re doing. The more you write like and in what you used to love, the more likely you are to rediscover something you’ve forgotten.
This method carries a secret bonus, too. Even though you’ll be writing about and in the things that excited you years ago, you’ll still have all the writing skills you’ve polished over the time in between. You’ll be writing in the place you liked, but it will be easier, faster, and more effective.
5. Find Your Fans
Remember who you’re writing all of this for. This could be just the family members you spin yarns to entertain, or a robust set of international readers you know via social media and your newsletter. These people are more excited about your work than you are, even when you’re pretty excited about your work.
When you’re feeling down about writing, they’re multiple levels more excited.
Go spend some time with your fans and catch a little of that excitement for yourself. Talk with the kid who loves your stories best. Horse around on Facebook or Instagram, engaging with your fan base. Go re-read the most positive reviews of your work on Amazon and elsewhere. Whatever it takes for you to see the impact your work makes in the world, now is the time to dive deep into it. You’ll come out the other end re-invigorated to keep giving those raving fans more of what they love.
6. Eat the Frog
There are times when your trouble with writing isn’t with the whole thing, but rather a single task that’s weighing you down. You’re dreading it, hating it, afraid of it…the specifics vary from writer to writer.
When that happens, the way out is through. Just get it done. Attack the problem head on so it’s behind you and you can get on with loving what you do. This can happen in one of two ways.
If it’s a single task that’s over once you complete it, jump in. Make yourself do it today. Every moment you spend having not done it is another moment you’re out of love with writing, but as soon as it’s no longer a looming responsibility you’re free to do the things you want. It’s really that simple.
What’s less simple is if it’s a recurring task, like pitching editors, proofreading, or managing your social media. When that’s the situation, it helps to time box the task. Set aside a single time each week for this onerous responsibility. When that time comes up, you do it as well and quickly as you are able. Outside of that hour, though, you write what you want.
In either case, the secret is to get the tough part done so you can move on with enjoying your relationship with writing and having written.
A million distractions vie for your time every hour, and sometimes the siren call of those other opportunities comes in louder than the desire to write. Those side projects, side conversations, side hustles, and side issues combine to sideline you from writing. If that battle gets hard enough, it can leave you doubting whether or not writing is what you really want to do with your limited time.
Decluttering is one of the best ways to eliminate this issue. It takes different forms in different writers’ lives:
- Declutter your time by removing social media, streaming, and video games from the device you do your writing on.
- Declutter your commitments by saying no to things that don’t directly serve the things you value most.
- Declutter your space by cleaning your desk.
- Declutter your writing by working on a single project at a time until that project is completely finished.
Any one of these might help you handle what’s keeping you from flow state focus on your work in progress, or maybe you’ll need to declutter more than one area. Keep decluttering until you’ve found what works.
8. Go Have a Beer
Not necessarily a beer. It could be tea, or soda, or some other restful activity that doesn’t even involve imbibing a beverage of any kind.
The point is, sometimes you just need a break. It’s okay to take a break from writing, be it for a few hours, a couple of days, several weeks or even a year. How long varies, and isn’t that important.
What is important is that you take your break on purpose. Decide that you won’t write from X time to Y time, and that you won’t feel the least bit bad about it. This is different from what many burnt out writers do, which is promise themselves they’ll write, then break that promise day after day.
There’s an important psychological difference between promising yourself you won’t write and keeping that promise vs. promising yourself you will write and breaking that promise. Sometimes, that difference is all you need to get yourself back on track.
9. Experiment in Other Places
There come times in every long-term relationship (with a career, with a hobby, with a person) where the context has remained the same for too long. Boredom sets in, and with it a sense of disillusioned disappointment. This happens for writers just like everybody else.
If this happens to you, change the context to change your experience. This might mean writing at a local cafe instead of in your home office. It might just mean facing your desk in a new direction. It could even be purely fictional, so you write in different settings with different characters. Where you land doesn’t matter nearly as much as having moved.
It may take several iterations of this before you find a place you can be comfortable for a while, but that process begins with your first move in the right direction.
10. Find Your Inspiration
When you first start writing, it’s enough to just string words together into a decent story. After that, it’s enough to just get published or read and reviewed. After that, it’s enough to get paid…and then paid well. Eventually, though, not even that’s enough.
At that point, many writers suffer ennui with their craft and the lifestyle that surrounds it. They’ve fallen out of touch with what made them choose to write.
Much like the time machine we mentioned earlier, the solution here is to go back to that earlier time. When it was enough to have just written, what about writing made you so happy? Was it the crafting of a beautiful sentence? The telling of a great story? The attention you got from friends who read your work? The joy in the faces of your readers? Get back to that and see what it does.
And if it does nothing for you, go out seeking new sources of inspiration to supercharge your writing. They’re out there for anybody who knows to look.
11. Binge Read
Every great writer reads at least as much as they write. Seeing what your peers and heroes are doing with the written word can inspire you in ways spending time with your own work simply can’t.
It even helps to read books by people who write poorly. Spotting their mistakes can help rekindle your enthusiasm in two ways. First, spotting their mistakes helps you become a better writer, and improving at a craft helps foster enjoyment in it. Second, there’s some empowerment in reading published books by bad authors. It helps you believe in your ability to achieve at least that level of success. After all, if somebody that terrible can get a book deal, why can’t you?
Besides, what writer doesn’t want a legitimate excuse to turn off their phone and read for a few days? Now you have it.
12. Start a Journal
If all else fails, you can go back to basics.
Abandon all of your writing projects and go buy a gorgeous blank-page notebook. Once a day, write whatever you feel like writing in there. Noodle about your day. Write short scenes from nowhere. Describe your dreams. Draft letters to deceased relatives and distant friends. Doodle.
Free of goals, restrictions, and responsibilities you’ll find your relationship with the written word can blossom. For some writers, this just gives them some relief so they can go back to what they’d been working on. For others, it opens a whole new avenue for their writing.
A wise woman once said of marriage, that married people spend some time in love with their spouse and other times just loving them. The first time you realize you’re not in love can make you panic and think the relationship is over, but then something happens to you or them and you’re back in love. It’s a natural rhythm of any long-term relationship.
It’s true of your relationship with writing. The first time you realize you’ve fallen out of love with it, you might imagine you’ll never write with such passion again. Turns out, that’s not so. Keep at it and you’ll discover things that make you fall back into love with it.
Especially if you take steps to do it on purpose.
Image by Monfocus.