How long have you been working on your masterpiece? Are you in the beginning stages, when all you want to do is lie around and stare into your characters’ eyes and learn all about every detail of their past? Or are you in the middle stages, when you’re getting to the really good stuff and the plot is thickening up like gooey cake batter?
Or are you in that after-the-middle-but-before-the-end part, when it seems like you can’t remember a time when you weren’t working on this project and frankly you’re a little…well…tired and….
Sick of it.
Writing a long book (or a series of books) is like running a marathon. Everyone experiences that moment when they hit the wall. You’ve been doing this one thing for a long time, putting all your energy into it, mile after mile after mile. It’s only natural that you come to a point when you’re feeling burned out and the project has become mostly work, and not so fun anymore.
To get the fun back, you need to take a break.
However, just like with running, you don’t want to stop exercising your muscles entirely. You just want to switch things up, do something different that you have no expectations about. Something completely low-key and no-pressure. But no worries, you got this. You are a writer worthy of marathons. You just have to pick yourself up and keep moving.
Writing poetry isn’t easy, but it can be flexible. You don’t have to write 200 pages to say your piece. You can find joy and inspiration in just a few stanzas, or 17 syllables if you’re writing haiku. You can also play around with a satirical or comic tone to lighten the mood, or concentrate on finding the perfect rhyme to revisit the way you used to truly relish the sound of words. For inspiration, ask your writer friends about their favorite poets and read some of their work to bring fresh new influence to your creative sphere.
You don’t have to write down your entire life story to benefit from the practice of writing memoir. Pick one memory and stick to it. Write down every single detail you can pull from your brain about that day or event or person. Include sounds and smells, thoughts and fears, and everything in between. The focus isn’t about telling the whole story, or even developing that one memory to be part of a larger work. It’s about using your memory purely to exercise your writing muscle. Not only will you test your powers of recall, but you can also strengthen your ability to capture sensual details.
You can do this exercise with one other writer friend, or a whole group. One of you starts a story, writes a section of it (a few pages or less), and then passes it on to the next writer for continuation. When it comes back to you, you’ll have to build on the creative contributions of others to write your next little piece. This works particularly well as creative relief because group stories tend to drift toward the silly, and it’s harder for you to get attached to the end product. Since it’s not an individual expression of your work, it’s much less likely your ego will want to get involved.
Every writer has times when they know they have to slog it through until the end. That’s just part of the creative process. But even though you can’t magically finish your novel by snapping your fingers or wiggling your nose, you can push the reset button on your store of creative energy. Tapping into the whimsical, joyful space of playful experimentation goes a long toward renewing your inner creative vision.
If you want more on writing poetry and memoir, and rediscovering the deliciousness of writing, you might be interested in these posts:
If something feels good to you, you’re much more likely to stick with it over the long haul. But it’s up to you to feed your good feelings about writing. Nourish yourself creatively and watch your writing muscles grow.
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