Bringing the joy back into writing

I am an author. I create stories. It is part of who I am. Sometimes I think there is nothing that gives me more joy than sculpting words into a work of art.

But over the past few years, some of that joy has been missing. Did I not want to write books?

No. Of course not.

The problem was, the pressure of writing under a contract.

Don’t get me wrong … having a publisher contract two additional novels from you sight unseen is an amazing feeling. But actually making good on those contracts was a little harder than I thought it would be.

Whereas the characters and the story were mine, and I loved them, knowing that I NEEDED to write those stories, and they had to be written at break-neck speed (at least for me) — I don’t know … for some reason that ruined the “experience” for me. I sat down each day thinking “I need to write 1000 words or I’ll fall behind.” Or “I can’t summarize this scene and come back to it later. I have to write it out now to avoid editing time on the back end.”

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It felt more like a race than an enjoyable walk in the park. More like a job than something that has always given me the ultimate joy.

This week, I handed in edits for the third book in my series. I have 30 days until they come back to me. A big part of me wanted to pick up my WIP and get back to it. Problem was that I would need to re-read the 80,000 words I’d already written to get back into this world, and get back into those character’s heads. By the time I’d have that done, my edits would be back again and I’d have to switch focus.

So instead of grabbing my WIP I opened up the file of a novel that I’d completed June second of 2014 (just a few weeks before getting the contract for FIRE IN THE WOODS.)

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much. It was 56,000 words I’d written and edited in only a two month time period. Imagine my surprise when I was instantly transported into a world and into the minds of characters that I’d almost forgotten about.

I finished reading (with light edits) in two days (unheard of for me) I couldn’t put it down!

But I knew there were a few things wrong.

Instinctively, I felt like the story moved too quickly. (But I wasn’t sure where. I just knew something wasn’t right) I also felt like I had missed an opportunity by not including more side characters. But the story, in itself. Seemed solid. REALLY solid.

Rather than wasting too much time “thinking” about what was wrong, I decided to throw it out to the “wolves” (As in my most trusted pool of beta readers) Imagine my excitement when seven of them waved their hands in welcome.

I jumped up and down with glee, seeing their reactions to the first 50 pages. Apparently I had something really special! But, they told me, I needed side characters, and the story moved too fast in the beginning. (And I’m sure they will tell me it is moving too fast later as well.)

The funny thing is, I KNEW this, but there is something about listening to beta comments that jack-hammers my brain into overdrive. Yes! Of course they are right. And now I know how to fix it!

I delved into the manuscript with reckless abandon, all the while smiling.

Why

Because I had the time to do so. There was no deadline looming over my head. I didn’t need to worry about there being flaws, because I had the time to fix them. The flaws are exciting. They are an opportunity to make a good story great.

It is really hard to explain this, but I am actually ENJOYING this edit. It is fun! I sit down every day excited for this world I created. I add a scene, and I sit back with a smile, subliminally high-fiving myself.

Yup. I still enjoy writing. Creating a world is still the greatest thing EVER. I can’t imagine NOT doing this.

Alien invasion? Bring it.

It’s so great to be having fun again!

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4 responses to “Bringing the joy back into writing

  1. That ‘wow, this is good!’ feeling when re-reading something we’ve written ages ago is priceless. 🙂

  2. I’m so glad to hear you’re having fun again. Being a full-time writer has NOT killed the joy for me, but it has made me face reality. As fun as the first draft is for me, the real work comes during the rewriting and revision process. I enjoy the edits, too (which I think of as is making a sold story sing), but ferreting out the weak points and squeezing creative juice into the slow parts is hard for me. (Mostly because I start to doubt that the story is good, that I’m a decent writer, etc.)
    Since you love this new story, I’m sure it’s great. Can’t wait to here when you sell it – so then I can read it 🙂

  3. Too much busy-busy kills creativity. I don’t know how you did it. ❤ ❤