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Keeping the passion

It’s an exciting thing, deciding you want to try to get your writing published. But adding the element of ‘I want to find an agent for this’ changes the writing process. A lot. You’re not just writing anymore. You’re revising over and over and over again, you’re finding beta readers, researching agents, writing query letters and synopses, biting your nails down to nothing while you check your email every fifteen seconds to see if an agent has asked to see more. As much as there’s a sense of excitement with it all, there’s a danger too. It’s really easy to read about people who landed themselves huge deals, or whose books are in the hands of every teenager on the planet and think it’s going to be you. It’s fun to dream. I think it’s probably impossible not to imagine everything working out in the exact perfect way every now and then. But then what happens when it takes forever? Or when you get rejections that hurt?

That’s when it sometimes gets hard to remember why you picked up a pen and paper (or opened a word processer) in the first place. And maybe the passion leaves. Maybe writing doesn’t seem so fun anymore. To me, that’s the worst thing. Ignoring the fact that your loss of interest will probably be obvious to anyone reading your work, what is the point of writing if you don’t love it? I think everyone probably has their ups and downs; sometimes, you’re just not going to be in the mood to write. But if you ask yourself, ‘why am I writing?’ and the answer is ‘because I want to be famous,’ or ‘to be published,’ or something of the like, maybe you need to take a step back.

Whether you’re starting to feel too wrapped up in the world of finding an agent, or too tired from being a mom, or burnt out from work, or any of the other thousands of reasons that could make you not so happy with the idea of writing, that’s no reason to give up. There are so many ways you can recapture the magic. Write a short story. Or a poem. Look at pictures and write a descriptive paragraph to go along with them. All it takes for me to get excited about writing again if I’m feeling exhausted by it is to read something amazing. It makes me want to write something others will find amazing too. But it’s not the only thing to try. Here’s how the rest of the YA Highway ladies get their groove back:

Amanda: Sometimes, I just need a few days off. It can get really frustrating when the story isn't coming together like I wanted, so I put it aside and catch up on movies, books, or even music. Pretty soon, I'm itching to get back to it.

Kirsten: A fresh idea works wonders, and second drafts are always fun. But when I'm trudging through a first draft, here are my methods: 1) Every day, I start with the customized playlist for my novel. Usually that gets me in the zone. If dispassion is chronic, sometimes updating said playlist helps. 2) I also allow myself to jump forward in the narrative and tackle an exciting scene. 3) If I need more scenes to get excited about, I brainstorm a list of new ones. 4) If that doesn't work, I give myself a slap and say, "Girl, get your ass in the chair and write. No excuses."

I honestly have not had a moment where I felt my passion for writing draining. My toughest challenge is keeping my focus on only one project. When things feel like a struggle my solution is two-fold: 1) Be disciplined enough to meet whatever goal I set for myself on a particular day. When that is complete I can 2) Work on something totally different. Having more than one project at one time keeps me interested because there is variety.

For me, the best cure for a sluggish writing day is reading. Sometimes just a good book will do, but often I go to forums or read articles about the craft, and it really motivates me. Reading the thoughts of other aspiring writers on AW, both the positives and the negatives, is great-- it's just nice to know other people are in the same boat.
Kaitlin Ward

Kaitlin Ward is the author of Bleeding Earth, Adaptive Books 2016, and The Farm, coming 2017 from Scholastic.

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  1. I'm sure setting a specific time each day aside for writing and only writing helps too. I've done that with my freelance writing...I should really do it with the novels as well. Habits are habits, right?

    Great post!

  2. Nice, Kaitlin. I was just reading a thread on AW that dealt with this issue (in a roundabout way) and it's great to be reminded that first and foremost is the writing. Then is the publishing. I also like the additional suggestions to keep us all on the writing path. I agree, especially, that reading a powerful piece is excellent motivation.

  3. I agree with Michelle about reading -- the better the book, the more inspired I feel.

    My problem with taking a few days off is that days off tend to breed.


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Item Reviewed: Keeping the passion Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Kaitlin Ward