I belong to a writing group and I suggested that we each write out our writing resolutions for the year and read them aloud to the group. I then collected them in and said I would bring them out again at our mid summer social event so we could all check in with how we were doing and once more at our Christmas get together to hold the Inquest into whether we had hit all our targets and if not, why not.
I made several writing resolutions of my own, the last of which is “To remember that writing is meant to be fun”.
Where did the fun go?
It is all too easy to forget this when a once innocent past time that gave us so much joy in the early days morphs into a career with all the attendant pressures that come with deadlines and running a business.
A writing friend gave me Julia Cameron’s ‘The Right to Write’ book to read. If you haven’t read it do get hold of a copy, I promise you will not be disappointed. It is written in such an engaging and open way that you are quickly transported to Julia’s world but at the same time you recognise yourself in her words. I found myself muttering ‘That’s me, I do that.’ and, often, ‘I thought it was just me who felt like that.’
Julia is a pro who has been there and done it and got the scars to prove it. Along with a lot of practical advice and good dollops of common sense, Julia reminded herself and us that writing is meant to be fun. Such a simple statement and yet so easy to overlook in the tangle of our everyday writing lives.
If writing has become a slog or a duty to be performed rather than an activity to be enjoyed, those feelings of disengagement and disillusionment will filter down through the words on the page. If we’re doing it because we think we should and the heart is a bystander the reader will be able to tell.
Writing is a passionate, visceral, all encompassing relationship between the writer and the page. If we’re dialling the work in, it will show and we won’t be capable of producing our best work.
If that sounds like you, take a step back from the work in progress and cast your mind back to when writing was fun.
What’s changed? Perhaps you had the innocence of naïvety to sustain you, the expectation that a big deal was just around the corner. Now, the school of hard knocks has taught you otherwise. Perhaps it’s the work itself that is the problem, are you stuck in a rut, writing a particular book because you think you should when your heart yearns to be writing something completely different.
If you can stand back and look at the wider landscape you should be able to see why you are not completely engaging with your writing and, more importantly, what you can do to recapture the joy and bring it back to your work.