Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Writing FUN-damentals

OK, are you squirming yet?

Brown-spattered teeth sitting in beef gravy jar
Leftover white scraps from peeled off label
Displaying mocha stained reminder of
Root canals, that novocaine jab numb shooting up your nose.

OK, that is a few lines from a rough draft of a poem I wrote a few days ago. About dentures, of all things. Because, yes, I'm just THAT strange.

AND because I want to remind you of why we started this whole writing gig in the first place.


Am I right? We write because we love it.

Because ever since we were toddlers, the sounds of rhyming words have brought giggles of glee. Buried in the childhood box of "shame and embarrassment" is a red magic marker penned holiday story filled with alliterative  phrases. My mother still quotes these occasionally in public in order to teach me humility. 

Though we may look as though we've eaten too many habeneros when we think of some of these early attempts at "writing." Boy, sometimes I cringe at my latest attempts at craft.

I needed to remind myself lately of why I love to write. 

Did you just send in your Genesis entry after spending months stressing about "showing not telling" and plausible plot arcs? 

Are you going through a period of personal trial and finding writing at all to be difficult?

Do you ever find yourself in analysis paralysis, stuck finding all the errors in your fiction but unsure of how to fix it? 

These are three of the many signs you may need to put the "fun" back in your writing?

Here are some of my suggestions:

Switch forms. Do you normally write novel? Try writing a personal essay about an issue that is weighing heavily on your mind. Back in my college days, poetry was my favorite form of writing. I've recently discovered just how much I miss it.

Consider pre-writing. No I'm not talking about pre-writing as the stage of planning before your novel. I'm talking about word dump. Pour out everything that's on your mind. You might find your creativity output is stopped up because of personal issues that need processing.

Excercise away. If you can't think of ideas, writing books and magazines are great places to start. Writer's Digest has picture prompts...you can even enter contests with some of them. The Write Great Fiction series from Writer's Digest books and Susan May Warren's workbooks are great choices to help you through your current story or get ideas for a new one. Sometimes for me a simple exercise can unblock my creativity.

Think of our old friend, Mr. Geisel. Yes, its OK to be silly. 

Think back on your favorite writing memories, then recapture them. I'm betting most of them are related to letting go of inhibitions and allowing yourself freedom in your writing. 

Break up your routine. Every once in a while go to that coffeshop and have a latte while you enjoy wordsmithing. Write in a different room of the house or try writing at a different time of day. Fatigue can definitely decrease enjoyment of even our favorite activities.

I've been going through a bit of a medical trial with my family and adding a bit of fun to my writing has really helped me make it through the rough spots. 

What do you do to get the fun back in writing? 


Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

I'm still working on that one. My first novel was fun because I didn't know the rules. I just wrote. I wish that I hadn't stumbled upon the writing world online, because 1) It takes up time I should be writing, and 2)I've learned so much that it is paralyzing.

Still struggling, but am slowing realizing that I need to just write garbage. That each novel I write is a learning tool.

The comments on Seekerville yesterday floored me. You wouldn't believe the amount of books people have written, just sitting on their computer. They will have a fabulous backlist when they get published. That is my goal...to just write and stack up those books on the computer. :)

Angie Dicken said...

Love this, Julia! Sometimes when I am stuck in a not so fun part of my novel, I skip ahead and write the juicy stuff, or the black moment...just to get my heart back into it (I know, I am morbid)...Now that I have finished my novel and edits, I am taking a little break, but will keep this in mind when I get the urge to write...don't need to write a whole novel, but I can write for fun!!

Jeanne T said...

Enjoyed your post, Julia! I like your ideas for putting fun back into writing. My favorite is to go somewhere else. When my kiddos have long breaks from school, I hire a sitter for a few hours and escape to Starbucks with my computer. It's always fun to people watch and to have a fresh place for writing.

Lindsay Harrel said...

Yep...if we let the writing become too much like work, we won't feel like doing it as much. And if we have a day job, then it becomes even more likely that we won't write, if it's boring. Fun ideas! ;)

Ruth Douthitt said...

I recently took a break from writing...and found it hard to get back into it!

But you are correct in that it helps to remember why you love to write in the first place.

I stepped back and took a second look at my completed manuscript and realized I needed to start over!

Thanks for the tips! I just might have to try writing in a different setting once in awhile just for a change.

Beth K. Vogt said...

Um, being the queen of dental disasters I wasn't finding the fun in your opening paragraphs, Julia -- but that's just me and my backstory.
I totally get your admonition to remember that writing is supposed to be fun. Too often I can get so angsty there's no fun at all -- for me or for my family who has to live with me.
Thanks for the reminder -- and the suggestions on how to get the fun back.

Sarah Forgrave said...

I usually have my characters slap each other, LOL. Or at least do something crazy in the book that they wouldn't normally do. Then I go back and tone it down in edits. But it at least makes the process fun again. :)

Julia M. Reffner said...


I could have written that. I know what you mean. I get so paralyzed at times by the rules. Its so hard to remember about it being a learning tool. I will have to go check that post on Seekerville, sounds very encouraging.

Is there just one thing you could change about your writing routine this week? Maybe spend one day writing a short short story, changing up your genre or something else you enjoy??

Julia M. Reffner said...


I love this idea to write a "juicy scene" or black moment. I get so stuck on order...I'll have to try this though. I can see how it would be effective. I hope your break is refreshing and yields lots of new ideas from life itself.


Coffeeshop...you said one of my favorite words. I almost never write in the quiet, learning to accept and concentrate in the chaos is a challenge for me. I think some of my "fun" in writing is just having to accept that this season writing looks different.


So true. Writing should be refreshing, even though it is work. :)

Julia M. Reffner said...


I had that problem, too. If you break too long its hard to get the rhythm back. Its hard to start over, but sometimes it does help to get the fun back when you feel good about the direction your story is heading.


Sorry, first the bugs, then the dentures. I guess I'm lucky you're still reading my posts :). Yeah, I know what you mean I have dental issues, too. Yes, so true that it can affect the family. My hubby has had to remind me more than once "its just a book."


I love that. Adding conflict. What a great idea and I'm sure it would make it more fun.

Amy Jane (Untangling Tales) said...

Mostly I need to lighten up, and quit with the death-or-glory dichotomy.

Don't really know how to do *that,* but I'm for now just trying to keep pressing through this revision and hoping for the courage to write imperfect drafts of those "missing" scenes as I discover them.

Anybody else have a hard time sticking something brand. new. into the middle of an Nth revision?

Anyway, I like this word fun, and want to shift my mind back there from wherever I've been living.

Pepper said...

Great reminder, Julia. We certainly need to keep an element of fun within all this hard work and budding creativity.

It not only keeps those creative juices flowing, but it's a great distraction from the real-world stuff (like you mentioned)