A few years ago, I taught a class on recovering joy in the writing process. It wasn’t quite right at the time, and I have not had time to really dig into what would make it better, but I stumbled over some of the notes recently. I have also stumbled over some discussions of burnout and loss of faith in writing, so it seems like a good time to post some of my notes.
There are many things that cause writers to lose touch with their joy. They mostly fall into a few categories:
2. Loss of faith (in the business, in yourself, or in life)
3. Creating an adversarial relationship with the work (doing the wrong work, working with the wrong attitude, serving the wrong ethics)
4. External pressure, either from the business or life; success or failure; joy or loss.
When any of these things overwhelm a writer, the result is often a sense of paralysis, and powerlessness.
Take a moment to be very quiet and close your eyes. Think back to a time when you first knew you wanted to write, when the possibility of it seemed incredible and wildly exciting. What was happening? What was the trigger of excitement? What did you imagine a writing career would be like?[/pullquote]
Powerlessness often comes from a feeling that there are no choices. But there are always choices. It’s just that we can’t always see what they are. Take a look at the stories you are telling yourself. Can you identify your main stumbling points at the moment?
For example, you can write a sentence that says, “I want _____________, but I can’t have it because _________________.” That can be small or large. You might want to focus on the current work, or a bigger goal.
Some possibilities: “I want to write one book a year but I can’t because I need the money generated by my other work.” Or, “I’d like to get moving again on my MIP, but I can’t because I have a sore throat and the weather sucks.”
POWER [Read more…]