Remember when you loved your writing project? When your writing relationship was fresh and exciting. You’d bounce out of bed longing to spend time with it. Now you can’t bear to be in the same room. It’s become a slog. You’re not even sure it’s a project worth saving – especially now there’s a shiny, new one that’s taken your eye. If you want to rekindle a writing romance, these tips will help.
1. Be more spontaneous
When you’re writing something lengthy it’s easy to fall into set patterns of behaviour. Doing the same thing in the same way every time. While that routine might be just what you need – it can be dull.
If so, try to inject some spontaneity into your writing process by mixing up your regular pattern. Be a little less ridged and little more experimental.
If you typically pre-plan your writing sessions and write at the same time every day, try grabbing small chunks of time across your day as they arise. Make notes on your phone or go full hipster and carry an old school journal to jot down ideas when you’re on the go.
Also, try changing your goal. Writing goals are typically measurable (eg. 30 mins per day) word-count based (eg. 500 words per session) or project-based (eg. re-write the introduction) or a mixture of all three.
Having the same goal can be a little monotonous so shake things up and choose a different approach and you might surprise yourself by writing more or faster.
>> Read more: Finding time to write: the spontaneous writer
2. Add a little spice
Writing isn’t easy. You often hit a saggy middle where things get tough and monotonous. But there are ways to pep-up a flagging relationship by adding a little zing – here’s four ideas.
- Write under pressure: Keep it exciting by using a technique such as pomodoro which involves writing in focussed 25-minute blasts followed by a five-minute break.
- Accept a challenge: Rope in a group of writing friends or colleagues to a writing deadline challenge. Join a virtual writing group or organise a joint writing session at your place of work.
- Shake things up: Sometimes working in the same old place every day can get dull. Inject a bit of pizazz by changing your working environment. Also, try buying some snazzy stationery, having your favourite snack on hand
- Splurge: Try freewriting or splurge writing to blow away the cobwebs. Just the process of starting to write and exercising your creative muscle is a proven way to take the blocks out of the way and get the ideas flowing.
>> Read more: How small steps lead to great progress
“Having the same goal can be a little monotonous so shake things up and choose a different approach and you might surprise yourself by writing more or faster.”
3. Rekindle the passion
If you’re starting to wonder why you ever fell in love with your project in the first place, it’s time to reconnect.
One way to do this to put a few minutes aside a few minutes for a visioning exercise and come up with 20 or 30 reasons why you felt passionate about your project at the beginning. Find out why it matters to you again. Write down:
- Why is your project meaningful to you? Why were you interested in it initially? What were you trying to say, do, express?
- How will it feel to read your finished piece of work or to hold it in your hands? What will you think, say do?
- What opportunities might it lead to – to yourself and to family? Will it lead to money, a promotion, creative fulfilment – think big!
Understanding why you are doing something and aligning your actions with your personal values, ambitions and goals is a powerful motivator.
Also, reconnecting in a positive way with your project releases endorphins into your brain which leaves you feeling pumped to continue.
4. Get racy in your writing relationship
If your relationship with writing feels like a grind or you’ve reached a thorny part in your work, it can really help to pick up the pace. Try going on a writing sprint.
A sprint is way to supercharge a piece of writing over a short period of time and involves you writing daily for around 5-10 days. Sprints work well if you’re blocked, stuck or in need of a motivational kick up the writing rear
The rules of a sprint are simple. On day one, set a sprint goal then each day move forward quickly, either in short sessions writing fast or just regularly.
At the end of each writing session ask yourself what went well, what didn’t go well and what would you change for next time – and change and adapt your process depending on what you find.
5. Never take each other for granted
When you’ve been writing something for a long time it’s easy to forget to enjoy the process. You can take your writing for granted – but don’t. Saying ‘I love you’, finding the good things and celebrating them is important to help you build a sustained practice.
Enjoyment is so important to encourage you to return to the project the next day – and the next. Pleasure is key to sustaining a relationship long term so always introduce small celebrations after each writing session.
“When you celebrate effectively, you tap into the reward circuitry of your brain.” – BJ Fogg, Stanford University Behavior Lab
The celebration doesn’t have to be much at all but it’s a vital yet often over looked or misunderstood part of the habit-formation process.
It should be something you do to create positive emotions, such as saying, “I did a good job!” after each session.
The benefits of tiny celebrations to encourage momentum is grounded in behaviour design and research. In fact, academics have found that people who celebrate small steps develop regular habits faster that those who don’t.
6. Manage your relationship expectations
Any kind of relationship has its ups and downs and writing’s no different. It started great with all those boxes of chocolates but then they ate all your favourite walnut brittles and left you with nothing but strawberry clouds.
Writing can be frustrating, uplifting, painful and rewarding in equal measure. The key is to manage your expectations, ride out the rough patches and not have your head turned the moment a new fun and exciting project comes along.
Why? Because key to productivity is perseverance. Fun and interesting projects will lose their sheen six months down the line – the shine will fade over time.
Clearly, there will times when your relationship with your writing isn’t working and for the sake of both, you have to go your separate ways. But before you do that, remember why it was you fell in love with your project in the first place.
Good and bad, up and down. Like any good plot, the downs drive forward the action so – keep going!
“Understanding why you are doing something and aligning your actions with your personal values, ambitions and goals is a powerful motivator.”