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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Getting Back to Your Basics

I’m taking a break from writing.

My mom challenged me last week to walk away from the story I was working on because it was giving me problems. It was getting to the point where my frustration with the story was translating to depression and moodiness. So, she challenged me to take a break from writing for a while.

I thought it would be one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. I thought giving up on a story was quitting and wrong and that it would metaphorically kill me.

But, it hasn’t.

In fact, it’s been really freeing. 

This last week I’ve been working through a bunch of different stories in my head, playing around with old ideas, and reading through snippets I’ve written. I’ve been remembering things I wrote years ago, stories I loved but then completely forgot about. I’m discovering how horrible my writing was back then, but how great my ideas were.

And, I haven’t felt stressed all week.

I’m learning to enjoy my stories, to regain the love of imagination I had when I started this whole writing thing. I used to spend my time imagining what the characters would do and say and feel. I’d play over scenes in my head and create ideas that I could get excited about.

That’s something I lost in recent years.

I spend my time these days plotting ideas and trying to find the perfect thing to happen. I want my scene to be a killer scene, I want it to be a scene people will talk about, one that will be ingrained in their memories long after they’ve finished the book. Which isn’t a bad thing, but I think I’ve been trying too hard recently.

I’m losing my love of writing. I still enjoy making up stories and creating characters. But, the writing part? I just can’t do it anymore. There’s something missing.

And, I think I’m learning that what I’m missing is my imagination. I need to start letting my characters have control again, to allow them to do and say and feel what is natural for them. Forget if the action fits what I read about their personality type. More importantly, it needs to fit them and who they are.

I’m not sure where you are in your writing right now. But, maybe you’re struggling like me. Maybe you’re looking for ways to add life to your writing again. Maybe you want to regain the fire you had when you started writing.

You don’t have to take a week or more off, like I am. But I would suggest taking a step back and asking yourself why you started writing in the first place. I would suggest going back to your original stories not to judge or cringe, but to remind yourself.

Writing is an art, a profession, a lifestyle. But, it’s also something more than that. It needs to be taken seriously, but also childishly. Look at it from the point of view of yourself at the time you first started writing. What was it about your old story ideas that made you passionate? What was it about those ideas that you wanted to finish them and publish them so it could be the next bestseller? What was it about your writing that you loved so much you wanted to spend the rest of your life answering this calling?

And, once you’ve found that, you’re on your own. How does that apply to you now? That’s something you need to figure out, because it’s something only you can answer. But, once you’ve figured that out, you’re well on your way to moving forward.

Because when hasn’t going back to the basics solved the problem?

How about you? How do you regain your writing passions and get through a bump in your book’s journey?

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