Love is a feeling that constantly changes and evolves. As authors, our relationship with writing is similar in many ways to our relationships with people. There’s a natural ebb and flow, and the character of the relationship changes over time.
Sometimes it’s exciting—you can’t wait to get back to your project, and you write like your fingertips are on fire. Other times, it just feels like work. You avoid your laptop, and when you do sit down to write, you can’t seem to focus or move the story forward.
If you and your writing have lost that special something lately, don’t worry. Here are a few tips to help reignite that spark and inspire you to fall back in love with your writing.
#1: Write What You Love
If a project has gotten difficult—or simply isn’t something you enjoy writing—you’re probably struggling with the motivation to keep working. While we don’t recommend abandoning a project every time the work gets hard, it can help to take time off to write something that does excite you instead.
Yes, you may be working toward a finished manuscript with a strict daily page or word count goal—but take a bit of time to write something else anyway. If your heart isn’t in your work, taking a break can actually increase your productivity—assuming you don’t get sidetracked for too long.
The “side project” should be different in content and tone than the work you’ve set aside. You want to give your brain a break, so pick a genre, story, or subject you can lose yourself in. Immerse yourself in the voice, characters, and setting of an entirely different world. You might even find your next book in the process.
(Just make sure to finish the one you started first, or you’ll end up with a string of unfinished manuscripts. Ask us how we know.)
#2: Focus on Reading
If you just can’t write, take a break from working altogether and fill your creative well by reading. One common pitfall for new authors is that they focus so intently on writing, they forget how much they love to read.
Reading makes us better writers. It’s why most of us got into writing in the first place. So if the words just aren’t coming, pull a well-loved classic off the shelf or dive into that TBR pile and start reading instead. You’ll likely find inspiration in another author’s work, even if it isn’t directly related to yours.
And don’t worry about borrowing here and there from other books. While plagiarism is always a hard no, inspiration is like a dialogue between you and other authors who have written before you. Every writer finds inspiration in what they read, and every creator uses other artists’ creations to fuel their own work.
#3: Reintroduce Play
In The Artist’s Way, author Julia Cameron recommends that writers go on weekly “artist dates.” These dates are dedicated playtime for you and your creative self, and can involve anything from visiting an art gallery or museum to taking a walk among familiar sights with fresh eyes. Any activity you find creative, fulfilling, and enjoyable qualifies.
As a child, you probably had no trouble coming up with story ideas or other creative inspiration. As adults, we struggle partly because we’ve forgotten how to play. Bring some fun back into your work, and the love will follow.
#4: Establish a Routine
William Faulkner once said, “I only write when inspiration strikes. Fortunately, I am inspired at 9 o’clock every morning.” Although it may sound like drudgery, getting back to a regular writing routine can help reignite the spark with your writing.
Circumstances will always arise to get in the way of our work as authors. Children and pets need attention, something in the house breaks, or we simply don’t feel like writing. Outside forces can get in the way if we let them—but if you really want to write, creating an established routine will help you stay connected to that goal.
#5: Join a Writing Group
Networking with other authors and joining a writer’s group, whether online or in-person, is a great way to get low-pressure guidance. You can even find helpful critiques and advice that will make you a better writer and help get you un-stuck.
As an added benefit, joining a writing group will help keep you accountable. You’re expected to participate by reading others’ work and preparing your own, all on a deadline. It’s also helpful to talk regularly to other writers who love their work and take it seriously.
#6: Forget About Results
It’s hard to be truly creative when you’re obsessing over results. If you’re more focused on whether anyone will read your book than on the writing of it, it’s no wonder you’re falling out of love with the process. To a certain extent, the reading of your book is out of your control—but the writing isn’t.
If you rely on your writing to bring in a paycheck, this is more difficult to do. But we still suggest that if you get stuck, you should try to take the pressure off and write for the sake of writing. Many successful indies get a day job for this very reason.
#7: Don’t Write
Our last tip is this: don’t write—at all. Go cold turkey for a week and see what happens. They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and it’s possible that time away from writing can help you fix what’s broken.
Explore other creative outlets like visual art, dance, or music. You might find the inspiration you can use when you return to your writing.
What’s the best method you’ve found for falling back in love with your writing? Leave a comment below and let us know!