When Writing Isn't Fun Anymore...
October 3, 2023
The inspiration for a new story is always exciting and motivating until, of course, it’s not. As poet Dorothy Parker once famously said, “I don’t like to write, but I love having written.” The eagerness we brought to the computer screen in the beginning stages is quickly replaced with dread and frustration as we become more disenchanted by our work. “You again?” we might say to our script. Soon, we question why we do what we do on a weekly, daily, if not hourly, basis.
So what do we do when writing isn’t fun anymore? (Full disclosure – I ask myself this almost every day.) In the spirit of injecting joy into anything and everything we do, here’s what to do when writing is kind of a drag.
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If your project isn’t fun anymore, then stop writing it. I’m not saying give up on it forever but if a returning feeling of boredom or annoyance accompanies a particular script, then leave it alone. Put it on the shelf. Maybe return to it in a few weeks or months, or maybe not at all. You’d be amazed at how liberating it is when you give yourself permission to stop the thing that you hate. Sometimes writers feel obligated to finish something as some sort of badge of honor, but if it’s only making you miserable, is it really worth it?
I know stopping entirely isn’t an option for those who are on a deadline but if you can give yourself a break from it, do it. Maybe stop writing it for the afternoon or if you can, take a day off. The rest might be just the thing that jolts you back to tackling it with renewed vigor.
Write the Thing You Want to Write
This sounds like a no-brainer but how often do we shelf the “I’d love to do this but not yet” idea? It’s usually the craziest story we’ve been noodling on forever, which is probably why we’re not writing it. But if it’s the sort of script that’s going to stimulate and challenge you in the best possible way, then that’s the story you need to write.
Writing often isn’t fun anymore when we’re not being pushed to our edge and instead, we’re settling for the “tried and true” story we’re used to writing or doing the thing we think we “should” write. So write the thing you want to write, and remember how fun it is to create!
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Find the Thing that Turns You on About Your Writing
Don’t worry – this isn’t getting R-rated. What I mean is, that we all have something that we love about our writing style. It’s that thing that probably made you want to be a writer in the first place. Maybe you’re good with one-liners or maybe you love creating unique characters or maybe you have a way of writing clever dialogue. Whatever it is, tap into that beautiful thing that you love about your own writing and see how you can implement that into your current project. For me, even when I’m writing a how-to article like this one, I try to find a way to make it entertaining for me to write, like adding bits of humor or takeaways from my own life because those are the things that I like to write about – and I think I’m pretty good at it (nothing from the peanut gallery, please). So find the thing that turns you on about your writing and start from there.
Make Your Environment Fun
Sometimes, where we write has an important impact on how we feel about what we write. Writing at your desk every day might be easy and comfortable, but it might also feel very monotonous and Groundhog Day-like. Believe it or not, this “vibe” can seep into your writing and make you feel uninspired. So mix it up! Bring your laptop to a coffee shop or a fancy hotel lounge. Or, if you’re a lifelong homebody (which I understand) try to make your space at least feel different. Put on some classic jazz and light an aromatherapeutic candle. Clean up your desk. Tack up inspiring film quotes or images around your space for inspiration. Whatever it is, do something to your environment that will make it more fun and inviting for you to write.
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Give Yourself Permission to Write Poorly
Just like life, writing isn’t fun when we’re trying to be perfect all the time. You’re probably not having fun because you’re not allowing yourself to be messy. Stop being such a square and let yourself off the hook. Give yourself permission to write poorly.
Write on-the-nose dialogue. Write long scenes. Write “good enough.” Because when we let go, we free up our creativity to explore and experiment and to be what it’s going to be. You can always edit later (because you will anyway). So say goodbye to your inner perfectionist and say hello to what’s dying to come out – which is going to be super fun and exciting.
Do Something Unrelated to Writing That Inspires You
What else do you enjoy besides writing?
Typically when we spend time doing other things that bring us joy and fulfillment, whether that’s baking or cooking or watching TV and movies, that will help open up the channels of creativity so you can return to writing feeling refreshed and inspired. Plus, it will remind you that there are other fun things you can do besides writing, which will no doubt calm your anxiety and help you look forward to returning to the page when you feel back on track.
Written by: Brianne HoganBrianne Hogan is a freelance writer currently based in Prince Edward Island. A film studies graduate from NYU, her byline's been featured in Creative Screenwriting, ScreenCraft, The Huffington Post, among others. "Jurassic Park" is unashamedly her favorite movie (at this moment). You can follow Brianne on Twitter via @briannehogan