Writing is an incredibly enjoyable experience. You get to explore and delve into whatever your heart desires, create people and worlds to play with, and do something that has an impact on people. However, there may come a point where it stops being fun. Knowing what to do when you reach that point can affect whether it ever becomes fun again.
1. Don’t soldier on
You shouldn’t just carry on as if there isn’t an issue. You don’t owe your readers anything. Soldiering on isn’t helpful and you run the risk of resenting your piece of work or the craft of writing in general.
Giving up and taking a break are very different things, so take a break to figure out and fix whatever the issue is.
2. Identify why
Figure out why you’re not enjoying yourself anymore. This could be as simple as you have a lot going on in your life, so your writing is a lower priority. It could be, however, that your project isn’t working for you anymore. Personally speaking, when I stop enjoying my writing it’s because I’m trying to force it in a direction that it doesn’t want to go.
Knowing why your writing isn’t bringing you the joy it once was is a vital step in the process of rectifying the situation. I find that speaking to other writers is one of the most helpful ways to achieve this. They don’t necessarily help directly, but during discussions it becomes apparent that I’m doing something that I shouldn’t be doing with my writing. So, don’t suffer in silence. If you can’t figure out why you’re struggling, talk to someone about it.
3. Fix the problem
Finding a solution is a lot easier said than done. If it’s just that life is getting in the way, then perhaps listing your priorities and focusing on what you need to (whether that’s writing or not) will help you regain focus. Try working on something a lot smaller, like writing a piece of flash fiction, a poem, or something you can do in a sitting when you have a spare half hour. It keeps your brain sharp for when you want to return to bigger projects, and it can help to rekindle your love of your writing.
If the issue is to do with the actual writing you’ve been doing, then you need to fix it. Last time this happened to me I went back and deleted three thousand words from my novel. That is a lot when you don’t have a massive word count. However, I managed to replace those words within a week. I went from struggling to write a thousand words in a couple of weeks to writing nearly eight thousand in about the same timeframe because I was really enjoying what I was doing again. Sometimes you may just have to tweak a couple of bits to rekindle your enjoyment. Whatever you have to do, do it.
Sometimes, though, there is too much to cope with. It’s hard to do but, occasionally, what you need to do is say goodbye. Writing can absorb such a significant portion of your life and it’s not uncommon to spend years on a project with all the redrafting and editing and tweaking and then the thing you have in front of you has moved so far away from what you originally dreamed or wanted that it’s not what you fell in love with; it’s something else. If it can be salvaged, great, but if it can’t maybe you need to put the project to rest. It’s a very hard thing to do if you’re invested emotionally, but it can be the best thing for you and your writing.
Writing should be fun, so make sure that when it stops bringing you joy that you take a minute to realise why and fix the problem.
© 2019 David Chitty
Available under the Thanet Writers Education Policy
David Chitty was born and raised in Thanet in the 90s. He devotes most of his energies to writing fantasy fiction novels.