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Friday, July 29, 2011

Keeping it Fun

I have been writing most of my life. Short stories, the occasional poem, stage plays, screenplays and now novels. My first short story was in second grade, and I’ve been driven to write ever since. Writing has always been my passion, my escape from real life.

I could never have imagined it would become a chore. But deadlines, edits, PR, marketing, social networks, worrying about reviews, and every other detail that comes along with being an author slowly began to creep up on me. It happened so slowly, I didn’t even realize that writing had stopped being “fun” and had started being a “job”. And yet it had.

I know I’ve become a better author with each book I write, but somewhere along the way I lost a lot of the joy. I’d forgotten how fun it was to figure out where my story was going and what was going to happen next.

But this last week, I am happy to report, my muse slapped me upside the head. After suggesting to my critique group that we should consider writing an anthology together, the estimable Jane Charles took my idea and ran with it, creating a better idea than I could have ever come up with on my own.

So now there are 12 of us working on Christmas short stories that are all connected; and hearing about every one else’s stories and figuring how they relate to my short story has been the most fun ever. My muse is back in full force and I can’t wait to get back to working on my story.

How do you handle all the pressures that come along with writing? How do you keep it fun?

11 comments:

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  2. You know, Ava, while driving to the day job yesterday, I popped in a cd I listened to all the time in high school. A cd, in fact, to which I worked hour after hour, lying on the bed, feet up in the air, hand-writing my historical romantic saga meant for me and only me. Because here's the thing: I didn't care whether I got published. Writing was a means of escape at 16. Diaries, to me, were for people who actually wanted to talk about their problems, and I didn't. I wanted to write about other people's issues--MY people's issues.

    Now, many, many years later, I'm writing for the sake of publication. Desperately trying to fit in word count and sentence structure and witty dialogue and debating whether that scene I really, really love either stays or needs to be cut. My point is, I want to get back to that mindset I had at 16. When I wrote for me, not the world. As you said, the fun needs to take a front seat again. Not that I don't enjoy writing now; I do. But when I was a teenager, I couldn't wait to get home from school, hurry up with my homework, so I could hole myself up in the bedroom and write, write, write until supper, then eventually bedtime. And that's when, as I drifted to sleep, I'd dream up new scene ideas, etc.

    What do you do to keep yourself motivated through the tougher times? Oh, and congratulations on your anthology! I'm sure it'll be great!! :)

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  3. This post is coming to me at a great time, Ava. In the last few months, I've started to look at my writing more as my career, and I'm taking steps to make that even more the case than it is now. I haven't lost the joy in writing yet...but I've been afraid that it would happen. Thanks for reminding us why we do it. :)

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  4. Alyssia ~ Ah! I remember those days so vividly. It's strange you mentioned music. Anyone who knows me knows I'm NOT a music lover (any love I had for it died out at after 13 years married to a musician). But this last week I, too, started playing cds from when I was in college. When the world was full of possibilities and my outlook on life was less jaded. I wonder if that has had any effect on my muse...?

    Catherine ~ I'm happy to remind you any time about the joy in writing. (I'm always filled with joy when I get to read one of your novels.)

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  5. Stay in the zone! That's the only way that works for me. Sadly, I don't follow my own advice very often, letting myself get pulled out of the book, letting the distractions of the work side of writing mess with my head. If you're in the zone, stay in the zone! Don't let ANYTHING distract you. Except...could you invite me in? After that, lock the door.

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  6. If I don't like my characters, I will fight with my muse to keep going. But at the same time, if life gets in the way, my muse will fight with me. I've been struggling with both until a fellow writer publicly challenged me to a race to the finish of our current WIPs.

    Of all things to stir the juices, that did it! I'm 30k away from finishing a story I started July 1st. Go figure. All because someone put the fight back in me. ;)

    How's that for motivational fun? LOL

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  7. For me, it really depends on the book. When I'm into the book and the characters resonate with me, then the writing is still sheer joy. But if they aren't as much my style, then it's more difficult to write. I sincerely hope no one is able to tell the difference, but the difference in me can be profound.

    The book I'm writing now is SO much fun. My only problem is the other stuff is overwhelming me so much that I have no time to write!

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  8. Since I am not under contract to write specific titles, I have more freedom than other pubbed authors. That doesn't mean I DON"T want that three book deal from a major house! Right now, I write the story that begs to be written and hope for the best. I look forward to your Christmas anthology!
    www.nancyleebadger.com

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  9. Ava! I hope it never becomes a chore to write. While the marketing and what not gets to me, I still love to sit down to write out a new story. I'm having the most fun working out this Anthology first because it's in conjunction with my favorite writers and critique partners and two because it's placed in a whole new genre that I'm surprisingly learning to love. Who would've thought I'd write a regency. lol. But there truly is so much available for conflict during the regency era. Ripe with possiblities come to mind. I can't wait to see how this all ends! Thanks so much for the opportunity to write with such talented authors. I'm having a blast!

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  10. Claudia ~ You're right it's the ZONE! But some times it's hard to find. I'm in it right now and I'd sell my cat to stay there. (My son would not be happy to hear me say that.) So nobody tell him. ;)

    Aimee ~ That's great! A public challenge! Just 30K to go? And you just started July 1st? Congrats!!

    Nancy ~ There is soooo much freedom in being able to write what you want with no limitations. I think that's why I'm so enjoying this anthology.

    Suzie ~ YAY!! We finally pulled you over to Regencies, huh? I knew we'd get you eventually. ;) Seriously - I'm glad you're enjoying it. This process has been a ton of fun.

    Sabrina ~ Your books are always a delight to read! If you haven't gelled with a certain character, I would have never known it.

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  11. I think remembering the joy in writing is one of the most important things we as writers can do. (notice I didn't say it was easy, lol!) It is so easy to get lost in the logistics of being a professional writer, but we must fight! I think it is BRILLIANT that you ladies are doing the anthology (still very jealous about this). Perhaps I should put a post-it on my desk that says "Remember - you *wanted* to do this" lol!

    There was a period of about a year and a half where I had ceased to read anything at all after deciding to become a writer. That would have been unimaginable to the old me. Reading WAS me - it's how I spent much of my life. At nationals last year several authors drilled home the importance of reading for a writer, and it reawakened that special part of me, reminding me of the joy of reading again. I sincerely hope I never lose that again.

    Hooray for joy in writing as well as reading!

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