Seven ways to keep up your enthusiasm for writing
hen you’re working on a longer story or a novel, one of the hardest things you’ll face is just keeping up your enthusiasm. Writing can be hard work, sure, but it’s important to make sure you’re having fun. Remember: if you’re bored, so are your readers.
So what do you do?
1. Be lazy
You can use laziness to your advantage.
First, make a to-do list. The list should be realistic, with projects you can see yourself actually doing. The list should be more complicated and more time consuming than your writing project.
Next, sit down to write. Tell yourself, “As long as I’m writing, I don’t have to clean house / work out / mow the lawn / empty the cat box.”
Remember, as long as you’re writing, you’re not working. You’re avoiding work! Any amount of work seems easy when it’s not the work that you’re supposed to be doing at the time.
2. Write Something Else
Like I said, any amount of work seems easier when it’s not the work you’re supposed to be doing. Since I started working on my novel, I’ve found the energy and inspiration to write 24 short stories and a dozen essays. I just tell myself, “As long as you’re writing something, you don’t have to work on the novel!”
3. “When your mind gets stuck, move your body.”
I wish I could remember who said that originally, because it’s great advice. If you have writer’s block or if you’re just bored with what you’re writing, get up. Do it! Get up, walk away from the computer, and do something physical. Take a walk, do pushups, do some housecleaning, anything. Just get your blood flowing and your mind off your work.
4. Identify the problem
If you’re seriously bored with what you’re writing, there might be something wrong.
Are your characters developed enough? It can be very hard to write a long story if your main character has no personality.
Is there enough conflict? Maybe your character has already solved all of his problems. The real story is over, but you’re still writing, looking for something for your character to do. At this point, you have three choices:
End the story. You started out to write a novella, but you ended up with a short story. Hey, you still wrote a great, entertaining piece, and that’s more than most people can say. Pat yourself on the back and move on.
End the story, but add more someplace else. If you have strong conflict earlier in your story, add to it. Maybe Dr. Frankenstein doesn’t stop the monster right away. Maybe he has a fight with a mob of angry villagers first. Maybe the vampire hunter doesn’t stop Dracula immediately. Maybe he’s distracted by a beautiful woman.
Stop the story from ending. Your character thinks she has everything all wrapped up, but something else happens. The villain comes back for one last scare. The man she thought was the killer becomes another victim. The monster is dead, but the scientist has a bomb. There’s always room for one more challenge.
5. Get Inspired
Read something, listen to music, or look at some great art. Do whatever you usually do to find story ideas. And then, force a connection.
“In this story, the hero is fighting an army of zombies. How does that relate to my detective story? Maybe the detective has a nightmare about the victims coming to get him. The victim’s ghost comes to him and reminds him of a clue he saw earlier in the story – The broken vase!”
“This song is so depressing… It’s about a guy dumping his girlfriend, and dating her sister instead. Maybe that should happen to my female lead? Wait, I have to give her a sister now. Maybe her sister can be an ex-cop, and she uses her training to help her fight the monster!”
6. Change Your Attack
What’s got you so bogged down? Are you trying to come up with a good ending? Can’t figure out how your hero escapes Dr. Doomsday’s trap?
Don’t worry about it! Work on another part of the story! Add a love interest. Add another murder victim. Expand on an earlier scene. Rewriting an earlier part of the story will make the story seem more interesting, and your excitement will come flooding back.
7. Focus on the Outcome
Imagine how good you’ll feel once your story or novel is finished. Spend a few minutes daydreaming. You show it to your girlfriend, and she’s deeply moved. You show it to your stiff, serious English professor, and he laughs at all your jokes. You show it to your parents, and they tell you that they’re proud of you.
You post the story on the internet, and an executive at a publishing company sees it. He offers you a book deal, and you go on the talk show circuit. You end up on Conan. Conan’s other guest that night is Cameron Diaz. You and Cameron really hit it off…
In the end, it isn’t important what you do. Just be creative, stay excited, and most of all finish what you start.