Joy. So often, as writers, we struggle. We pick, we obsess, we edit until our pencils, and our brains are worn out. We worry about the story, about the end, about how we will get our characters from the beginning to their inevitable outcomes. We worry about the product. What if it isn't good enough? What if no one reads it? What if . . . what if what if! It isn't a joy to write if I'm worried and struggling. And boy, do I know this place of struggle. Of worry. Of doubt. And I also know that if I'm worrying, if I'm struggling, if I hold tight to the outcome, focus only on product and not process, not only will I NOT find joy in my creative process, but my writing won't be as good as it could be. See how that works? Funny huh? That if you focus solely on the outcome, on being perfect, or even just being good, that you can suck the joy right out of the writing process. It's okay to let go of this idea of perfection, of being good, of product. It's okay because if you write, you will, if you continue writing, write what you want to write. Whether a novel, a short story, a script, whatever you just have to keep writing. So, you might ask, Carolyn, how can I find joy in the writing process. Here are just a couple of ways that you can enJOY the creative process of writing.
Surrender. I love this quote by Lauren B. Davis: "If you are a real writer, then just surrender to the writer's life, all of it, even the bad stuff. When you do that, the beauty appears the peace, the meaning, the joy, the fulfillment, the sense that you are doing what you were born to do and what could be better, in the end, than that?" I love it because it's true. When you surrender to it all, the good, the bad, the hard, the challenging, the process, the messy messy messy process of writing and being creative, you will, more easily, find your joy in it. And in regard to the definition of "REAL Writer," to me is someone who writes—end of story. If you write, you are a writer.
Try a Different Approach. For instance, if you always write in third person, try second or first person. And, let's say you want to tackle third, try third-person close or omniscient. Pick up Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon and try your hand at writing in third person objective. In other words, you write about the thoughts and feelings of the characters. No commentary. You, instead, have to relay what the characters think and feel through action and dialogue—quite a challenge. And, one, that if you're up for, could be a lot of fun. And for those who feel uncomfortable writing in first person, the "I" voice, try it. See how your writing changes. The point is that whatever you try, have FUN with it. Allow this to be an experiment, something fun and new and exciting. When you focus on this different approach, you'll let go of what you're writing about, but instead, you'll focus on the language.
Do An Exercise. In other words, don't focus on the outcome, the subject, the story (check out this newsletter), but instead, do a writing exercise. Whether a prompt or you pick up a book of poetry or a novel and try to write like that writer. Try to do what the writer does with sentence structure, length of sentences, tone, rhythm. I equate this to focusing on a mantra or your breath during meditation; it gets you out of your head and into your bliss while meditating and into your joy while writing.
Take A Class. Like Adventures in Writing. (Yes, that is MY writing class, of course, you ARE on my website.) Not only will you find joy in the other people you meet, but you'll find joy in being part of a community. You will also find joy in the fact that your writing will improve. There is so much more I can say, and today, I'll direct you to check it out on my website. Or schedule some time with me; I'll answer any questions you have. Classes start the week of March 8th. Monday evenings or Tuesday afternoons.