Here we are in the NaNoWriMo word trenches, but you may find yourself asking how to enjoy writing. The answer may surprise you, and it’s completely antithetical to NaNoWriMo.
At the risk of getting kicked out of the writing world, I’m going to say in a very public forum that NaNoWriMo isn’t for everyone. NaNoWriMo isn’t compatible with a lot of brain chemicals, and the frantic pace isn’t the sort of thing that makes all writers flourish.
So, if you find yourself in the middle of NaNoWriMo, or a writing project you hate, it’s important to remember why you started writing in the first place.
And while we each started writing for different reasons, we can help remind ourselves of why we started in the same way.And while we each started writing for different reasons, we can help remind ourselves of why we started in the same way. Click To Tweet
So if you’re wondering how to enjoy writing again, check out these tips.
How to Enjoy Writing
001: Focus on the process, not the result.
Writing can be really fun. But when all you’re thinking about is word count and plot points, it kills the magic.
So if you aren’t on a major deadline, or if you have some time to play, just play.
Writing is a form of play because you’re using your imagination and solving story problems. It can feel like putting together a puzzle, and the pay off is that you you get to do it all on your own.
But if you’re too stuck on the results of your writing sessions, and worrying that you won’t create things that people love, you’re going to paralyze yourself in fear.
Instead, think about the story itself. Let yourself get lost in it. Don’t worry about the things outside the story, because you don’t control those.
002: Take out the deadlines.
I fully recognize that this isn’t something that everyone can do. But if you can, cut off your self-imposed deadlines for a while.
This will give you some space to play and figure out what you want to do. It will also take the pressure of the deadline off the creative process.
I know this won’t work for writers under contract, but it’s a great way to give yourself some space to enjoy what you do.
And if you take out the deadlines, you may as well make an experience out of it.
Try going to a new coffee shop to write, or a nice library. Instead of being holed up in your office, go someplace where you won’t mind if you lose focus. Remember, it’s about the experience of doing the writing. So make it worth your while.
003: Don’t worry about what other writers are doing.
This can be really, really tough.
Lots of writers share their processes on their blogs, Instagram, and YouTube, so it can be easy to compare yourself to others. And when you couple that urge with the feelings of jealousy writers experience when they read about the new literary wunderkind and their 7-figure advance, it can be disheartening.
But at the end of the day, only you can write what you will write. Even if it’s a plot we’ve heard before, you’re the only one that is going to write it the way you will write it.But at the end of the day, only you can write what you will write. Even if it's a plot we've heard before, you're the only one that is going to write it the way you will write it. Click To Tweet
So, it stands to reason that your process is all yours, and you don’t need to compare yourself.
It can be hard to stop yourself from trying to do what others are doing, or using the achievements of others as a measuring stick. But when you do, you’ll find that you have more fun working, and you can detach from more expectations that are holding you back.
004: Think big picture about what you like about stories.
There’s a reason why you started writing. And it probably has to do with you falling in love with stories.
What story first captivated you? What plots seduced you into this writerly life? What books do you keep on your shelf and refuse to get rid of? What movies are you happy to see over and over?
Thinking about these things will help you see the elements of stories that you love, and will help you remember why you started writing.
I’m not saying that watching your favorite movie or picking up a well-loved paperback is going to help you finish that project. But it will help you focus on why you wanted to write. And doing that makes it a lot easier to see the forest for the trees when you’re down in the writing trenches.
005: Write first. Edit later.
I have said this so much this year that I can’t even count.
(And if this is new to you, you need to check out my post on how to write fast, and my post about how to write 10,000 words in a day. And why not check out my post on how to practice writing while you’re at it?)
But I suppose I’ll say it again.
The part of your brain that generates ideas and creates story worlds is different than the critical part of your brain that likes to edit.
So, if your writing process is you getting halfway through a paragraph before you hit that backspace key and start moving words around, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.
Give yourself space to write. Do writing sprints, and for as long as the timer is going, make sure you’re putting words on the page.
Then, when that document is done, that’s when you edit.
Not only will this make it easier for you to enjoy writing, you’ll be less critical of your work during the process. And, it helps that you’re basically batching tasks and saving time.
006: Abandon your manuscript.
This is going to be the most controversial point.
And please note that I’m not saying you should abandon it forever.
But if you’re struggling to get through something, take a day away from it and let yourself work on something fun. It can be whatever you want.
Write in a new genre. Write in a style you’ve never tried. Play with new forms.
Whatever you choose, let yourself get away from the work that’s making it hard for you to work.
That break is an active rest from your manuscript. You’re still writing, just on something else. So when you do come back to the manuscript, you’ll feel refreshed and you won’t be out of the practice of writing.Whatever you choose, let yourself get away from the work that's making it hard for you to work. Click To Tweet
How do you make yourself enjoy writing?
What makes you happy with your writing process? Do you like to take a break from projects to work on other things? Do you edit while you write? What made you fall in love with stories?