Be Productive By Marcy McKay Writing is a lonely process. It takes a lot of courage to sit down and write day after day, week after week, month after month. The struggle can continue for years, while self-doubt, criticism and fear bully you like a gang of thugs. As if that’s not torture enough, you may want to move beyond writing for yourself, and pursue publication. Then, the real challenges begin: losing writing contests, diminishing support from family and friends because you’re gasp…still unpublished? Don’t forget rejections from agents on stories you’ve slaved over, pouring your heart into each word. That is, if the professionals bother to answer you at all. Silence is the new rejection. If you aren’t careful… … you might destroy your love of writing. A Thin Line between Love and Hate You may find yourself wanting to breakup with writing for several reasons, such as: Constantly questioning your talent. Your plot/poem/short story remains stuck, and you don’t know how to fix it. You need to recharge your creativity. Perfectionism has stolen all the fun from your writing. Fatigue from pursuing publication, with little or no success. Procrastination has become your middle name. Jealousy. You cannot believe he won that writing contest, so you throw your novel away. Life has kicked you in the teeth (death, divorce, financial stress etc.) and you don’t have the energy to deal with anything beyond your current crisis. Any of these can make you forget the simple joy of writing – stringing words together in ways that both delight and change you. There was a time when stories formed in your head about imaginary people in make-believe places. You got downright grouchy if you didn’t explore what happened to them. It was magical. Nonfiction used to be just as wondrous. Even when you had all the facts, you still had to find ‘the story within the story’ to make the piece shine. You enjoyed every moment of it, even during the tough times. Not anymore. Relationships require commitment and hard work. So does faithfulness to your craft. If you’re not mindful, you can lose heart, lose hope, and lose faith in yourself. Many give up, and quit altogether. Don’t let that happen. Every relationship goes through high and lows, good times and bad. What you need is to find success with your writing once more. 3 Ways to Fall in Love with Words Again You hear it all the time: “Writers write.” While that is true, you might need a little extra TLC to help find your rhythm once more. When you’ve lost that lovin’ feeling, try any of these three strategies: #1. Shift your creative energy Set writing aside and do something else that’s artistic, even if it’s an activity you’ve never tried before. It will improve your outlook overall. Take a cooking or art class, garden, try wood-working, yoga, or rollerblading. The possibilities are endless. So are the benefits. “Develop interests in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music – the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself.” – Henry Miller, American novelist #2. Write a journal Writing to improve your writing? Sometimes, you must get back to basics, and explore your own feelings, rather than your characters’. Take 15 – 20 minutes each day to journal, write as fast as you can without stopping or editing. Explore anything upsetting you, like: Why am I struggling with my writing? What’s happening in my life that I’m so hurt, angry, disappointed? What do I need to differently (on and off the page) to get back to a better place? A lot of misery may pour onto the page, and that’s good. You have to clear away the hurt first (resentments, fears, frustrations), before you can find the healing. “After my husband died, I could not write much (fiction) – I could not concentrate. I was too exhausted most of the time even to contemplate it. But I did take notes – not for a journal, or diary, of this terrible time. I did not think I would ever survive this interlude.” – Joyce Carol Oates, National Book Award winner #3. Help someone else Focusing solely on yourself just magnifies your woes. Be of service to others: hand out a meal at a soup kitchen, take your elderly neighbor’s garbage out for her, have coffee with a friend struggling his own problems. Pay it forward. Your generosity will thank you with renewed passion. “That’s what I consider true generosity: You give your all, and yet you always feel as if it costs you nothing.” – Simone De Beauvoir, French writer Bide Your Time How long will it take before you’re back in love with writing again? I can’t say. Just like everyone’s creative process is different, so is our heartache. It may take you an afternoon, days, weeks, or longer to rekindle your love of writing. These methods work because I’ve used them over the years myself when I’m on the verge of a literary breakup. However, I always come back to the page. Real writers need words, like we need oxygen. Both are necessary for our survival. We must use our minds, body and spirits to succeed. For successful writing, love conquers all. Make it an affair to remember for both you, and your readers. What do you do when you’re struggling with your writing? Please share a comment with me. I’d love to chat.