This is an old adage, but I wanted to circle back to it today, because it’s the beginning of the year, and we’re getting close to the point where most New Year’s Resolutions drop off a cliff. (Generally, that’s somewhere in February.)
White knuckling your way through writing sessions, just hanging in there until you hit your word count and can go drink a beer by the pool with a clear conscience, is not sustainable. No amount of willpower, discipline or rock solid habit will keep you writing if you’re just waiting to get the words down to call ‘er done.
This is where productivity blogs (yes, like this one) often lead writers astray.
The goal of being productive isn’t to get words down at any cost, the more the better.
The goal of being productive is to find time to do everything you must as an indie and write, too. Writing more (being prolific) is a strategy that helps you sell more.
But even if you have the most productive and efficient work schedule in the world, it will still leave you miserable, if you do not love the process of writing. That makes any schedule unsustainable.
You’re going to spend a lot of hours writing. If you really can’t wait to be done, because writing is difficult and therefore unpleasant, that’s a lot of hours to spend on a chore.
Your morale will evaporate and writing will become harder and harder.
My Just Start tactic for short-circuiting procrastination won’t work nearly as well, if you don’t love the act of writing. I’m not sure it’s even possible to get into a true state of flow, if you resent the writing process.
It’s highly likely that when you first started writing, you did love the process. But somewhere between there and here, you lost that pleasant association with the task of writing. There is a lot of pressure on indie authors to write perfect books and run the perfect business, if they want to survive. It’s all distracting, and can wear away the fun of writing under the need to produce.
So how do you get it back, this love of writing?
How to Love the Process
This is an oldie, but it’s a goody, because it works. Whenever you think about your writing practice, think of it in positive terms.
Watch your self-talk and correct yourself if you find you’re thainking about writing in a negative way.
Watch how you speak to others about writing
This can be subtle; small things like speaking about “cranking” out a book (which implies a mechanic process with no redeeming qualities), to disparaging your own writing (“Oh, this silly story?”) can take small dings out of your pleasure in writing.
And why not admit out loud that you love writing? If you say it enough, you will love writing once more.
Don’t agree with authors who hate writing
Sometimes, you might find yourself in a conversation with authors who groan and complain about the act of writing, who are victims of procrastination, and are never happy or merely satisfied with their work.
They will disparage their own writing ability.
These authors can be toxic to your own writing practice. If you can’t escape their company, then work hard to not take their negativity onboard, where it colours your own writing.
If you have the courage, you can tell these authors how much you love writing and the process of improving and growing as an author. It will help you counter the impact of their negativity.
Read inspiring books
You may already have a list of books, both fiction and non-fiction, that inspire you to write and to love the act of writing. If not, start a collection you can dip into at need.
Isaac Asimov demonstrates in nearly every autobiographical piece he wrote a bubbling, endless love for the act of writing. I read his non-fiction whenever I need a boost in my own writing practice.
Fiction that you love and admire also serves to remind you why you’re writing and what you love about your own writing.
Plus, research the authors of fiction you love; biographies and autobiographies of authors often have revealing passages in them, demonstrating the author’s appreciation for their profession.
Journal about the positives after each writing session
While you’re finding your way back to loving the process, after each writing session, write a paragraph or two in your journal about what went well in the session, and how much you enjoyed it. Don’t let negatives creep in. Just focus on the positives, for now.
Check in with yourself after a few months.
After a few months of working to restore your love of the process, check in with yourself. Journal, or just sit and think deeply about how the last few weeks of writing have gone.
Have you begun to enjoy writing? Good!
This is work worth doing. It will sustain your writing business in the long term.
Stick with it.