How to Fall in Love With Writing All Over Again
Note: This post was originally published in February 2016, and was updated in March 2020.
Does writing ever (or often) feel like just another thing on your to-do list?
If you’ve been writing for years, it can sometimes be tough to remember just why you wanted to write in the first place.
Perhaps your work-in-progress has been in progress for longer than you like to admit.
Perhaps your blog takes up hours of your time for very little reward.
Perhaps you’ve sent out your latest short story a dozen times – and had it rejected again and again.
If you’re tempted to quit, or if you just wish you could enjoy writing like you used to, here’s how to fall back in love.
Go Out Somewhere Nice
If you’ve got a significant other, chances are, you go out with them – at least occasionally. When did you last go out somewhere with your writing?
Getting away from your home or your office can make a surprising difference to your mood, and to how your writing session goes. Just going to a coffee shop to write for two hours can seem like a treat, not a chore … especially if they have muffins.
You could also join a writer’s group, sign up for a writing course, go on a retreat … anything that gives you some quality time to focus on your writing.
Tip: Libraries are a great place to write. They’re generally quiet, they’ll have desk space and usually power outlets, and they’re free! (Our local library even has a coffee shop inside. With muffins.)
Remember Why You Fell in Love to Begin With
It might be years since you first fell in love with writing, but try to think back to what it was that you really enjoyed about it.
I’ve been writing fiction with fairly serious intent since I was 13. I loved being able to escape into a world of my own creation, getting to know my characters, and (as an avid reader) attempting to create something that I’d enjoy reading.
My journey into blogging began a decade later, when I was 23. I loved being able to publish my work instantly, without going through any gatekeepers, and I loved the feeling of producing something new in the world.
How about you? What did you initially love about the type of writing you do? If you’ve moved away from the writing you loved, why did that happen – and can you shift back?
Tip: If you’re stuck doing a particular type of writing because it pays, can you set aside even a little bit of your day to do writing that you love? Also, experiment with different types of freelance writing – you may find something that you really enjoy and that pays well.
Have More Good Times, Fewer Bad Times
Can you pinpoint times when you do love writing? I love the drafting stage of writing fiction, for instance; I really enjoy the process of discovering the story. I like editing and honing it, too, but the first draft is what draws me in the most.
Maybe you love having a productive writing session and getting lots of words down, or you love workshopping stories with a group of fellow writers, or you love reading posts by other bloggers and building on them.
Whatever it is you enjoy, can you do more of it?
On the flip side, you can probably think of a few times when you’ve really not felt happy about your writing. Perhaps you aren’t writing regularly and you constantly feel guilty about it, or you’ve been editing your novel-in-progress for years, or you keep having frustrating writing sessions where you procrastinate for ages.
Whatever it is that’s not working for you, can you change it?
Tip: Don’t go for huge resolutions here: make small, specific changes. For instance, “I’ll set a timer for 45 minutes next time I sit down to write, and I won’t do anything but write until the time’s up.”
Get Enough Time to Yourself
If writing feels like yet another item on your to-do list, something that you barely have the energy for, then you might not be getting enough down time.
(Over the past few years, I’ve definitely found this a challenge!)
Even if, on paper, you’ve got two hours every evening to write, if you’ve been working all day, cooked dinner and done housework … sitting down to put words on the page might feel like yet another exhuasting chore.
One hour’s happy, productive writing is always going to win out over two hours of grumpy procrastination. Schedule in some time to relax, not just time to write.
Tip: If you can afford it hire some help to make life a little less hectic. When our kids were small, we had a wonderful cleaner who comes in for a couple of hours a week and it made life so much easier. If paid help isn’t an option, could a family member give you a hand with chores or childcare?
What’s stopping you from being in love with writing right now? Could you change something this week to help you enjoy your writing time more?
I’m Ali Luke, and I live in Leeds in the UK with my husband and two children.
Aliventures is where I help you master the art, craft and business of writing.
If you're new, welcome! These posts are good ones to start with:
Can You Call Yourself a “Writer” if You’re Not Currently Writing?
The Three Stages of Editing (and Nine Handy Do-it-Yourself Tips)
My contemporary fantasy trilogy is available from Amazon. The books follow on from one another, so read Lycopolis first.
You can buy them all from Amazon, or read them FREE in Kindle Unlimited.
The toughest thing that stands between happiness and I would be the lack of ideas. In the genre I am working in, I need to stay fresh and keep churning up ideas on a daily basis. Rehashing the old is viable but only when it’s done well. There’s nothing better than having a good idea pop into my head that I can use, though it doesn’t happen nearly often enough.
Typically, the best ideas come when I’m not actively seeking one. I have learned not to struggle to think of anything but to keep a pen and a small notebook handy to jot down the basis when a good idea strikes. It’s like lost car keys: you find them only after you stop trying so hard to find them!
That’s a tough one! I agree with you that trying to force an idea is counter-productive, and good on you for keeping that notebook handy. Do you find that you get ideas from what you read? Obviously I don’t mean copy someone else’s — but sometimes a line in a story (or even a poem or song) can spark off a whole train of thought for me.
I neglected to put my email address in at the end of the survey!
No worries, I’ve added it to my list! (You’re not the only one. :-))
I’m going to try the first one and take my writing out somewhere. I’ve been feeling a bit jaded sitting at my desk. Maybe an afternoon in a coffee shop (with muffins!) is just what I need. Thanks for the tips!
Amanda Fleet’s last blog post ..Reading speeds: Kindle or paperback?
Enjoy your writing afternoon! For me, at least, it doesn’t take much to make writing feel like a treat rather than a chore (muffins feature heavily in that ;-)).
I don’t set goals any more. Just trying to do a little bit of writing or something writing-related every week. I’m moving at the end of this month and then I’m finally staying put for a while!! That will also help with getting more writing done. I’m deliberately going to make a little writing nook in my room to help with that.
I love coming up with stories and escape into them. Same for reading haha. I’ve had a period (last two years of high school and parts of uni) where I *had* to read books and I lost all pleasure. Mind you, I studied English lit haha. And doing hardly any reading for fun, I also stopped writing for over 5-7 years I think. When I was in China, I had more time on my hands, besides studying of course, and I got back into it. Then I got back home and after a very busy year with no writing, I joined my first writing course. It’s gotten more and more serious from that point on 🙂
I think anything can lose its joy when it becomes too much like work (I, too, studied English Literature…!)
Hope the move went smoothly, and that you’re settling into your writing nook. 🙂
“One hour’s happy, productive writing is always going to win out over two hours of grumpy procrastination. Schedule in some time to relax, not just time to write.”
So true! But the problem is “One hour.” In the sub-conscious, people feel, who’s gonna write for one hour? So, here, the tiny habits help a lot.
Instead of writing for one hour for a few days and quit, it’s better to write just 5 minutes a day, for a month or even longer if you like.
Many times, writing for just 5 minutes (or 50 words a day), will get you started and soon you’ll have written nearly 1,000 words. I did, the last two days. 😀
Try it anyone who doesn’t like to write for long. Just 5 minutes or writing daily, or if that’s difficult, try 50 words a day. Everyone writes more than that in e-mails, so that should be easy.
P.S.: Ali, do you still use The Journal? I still have that program on my computer.
Tiny habits are great. I usually enjoy having a whole hour to write — but sometimes when I can’t face it, I tell myself I’ll just do 5 minutes. Once I get started I’m normally keen to get going. 🙂
I don’t use The Journal much these days: I used to keep my calendar and “to do” items in there, but I’ve switched now to using Nozbe instead.
After reading your article, I thought why not share with you the mental block I’ve been experiencing for the last few months. Don’t be surprised if I tell you that I’m 75 and had been blogging just for pleasure since 2010. Short breaks in between I’d taken all along.
My dilemma is that now I’m unable to restart as I feel that creative juices no longer flow within me. Of course, I feel sort of guilty. But now it seems like an uphill task. What do you think, should I forget all about it and find something else to keep my grey cells activated?
By the way, I did my masters in English Lit. way back in 1965 and retired from teaching English at College level a long time ago.
So sorry for the slow reply, MP! I think it can be really tough to write at times. If it’s something you still want to do, please don’t give up just because those creative juices don’t seem to be flowing.
Give yourself permission to take a break (without feeling guilty!) for a few weeks, and set yourself a deadline to “return” to writing — you can then decide whether you want to get started again, or whether you want to continue to take a break from it. Best of luck!