Tuesday, February 10, 2009


When a writer loses joy in writing, the answer is almost always that he/she has moved from internal prompts to external considerations.

This is what Barbara Samuel says over at Writer Unboxed. The post is well worth reading and contains excellent suggestions on how writers can recharge and reclaim that inner joy in the process, free from the demon of external demands.

I'll highlight two today. The first:


The evening when I first realized I was in serious trouble took place about ten days ago, when I didn't feel like reading. I stood next to my bed, stared at the precariously high pile of books, and did not want to read a single one.

(Collective gasp of horror from my fellow bookworms.)

That really shook me up and made me decide I had to do something about it. How could I not want to read? How is that even conceivable?

Part of the reason is I've been a good newbie author, trying to understand the market and reading all the latest successful books available, figuring what works, what doesn't, and how I can improve mine.

But I haven't done the other kind of reading, the kind that engages me and lingers long after I'm finished, in a long time. Reading has gone from a joy to a chore.

This ties in well with Barbara's other suggestion, which is to

Fill the Well

She refers to the process of collecting fresh new details about the world, about taking notes when riding a train or going to the movies. I would like to expand that to include anything else that fills the well, not just for our writing, but of our being:
  • read books we love, not the ones we should
  • exercise
  • converse with people we care about
  • converse with people we respect
  • cuddle with our children/pets
  • eat
I've gone out running three times this weekend, two of those times with my children. I went to Zumba classes. I sorted and organized my closet (believe it or not, that was a well-filling activity for me.) I cooked several different meals that were either healthy or usually reserved for special occasions or those that required more than the usual amount of creativity. Ran errands as if they were fun events.

Still haven't written much, except here at the blog. But I think this is going to get better.

Wishing you lots of lovely books and filled-to-overflowing wells.


poemhome said...

Yes, I agree with her. You have to follow your own bliss,as Joseph Campbell said.

Yat-Yee said...

Yup. A writer's gotta do what a writer's gotta do.

Nandini said...

I'm glad you're making time for yourself. It is so important. I like that list, except for the "eat". That I should do less of, but the zumba class sounds good!

Yat-Yee said...

But you gotta eat, Nandini! :)

And Zumba is great fun.

Cheryl Reif said...

Funny how easy it is to get so caught up in producing that we wear out the joy that sparked our desire to write in the first place! It's definitely a bad sign when you don't feel like reading :(. I'm glad you recognized and are working to replenish your creative well. Happy re-filling! ~Cheryl

PS--Now I have to go look up zumba....