A couple of years ago, my writing turned into a grim chore. Many factors sucked the fun out of my writing life, running the gamut from industry changes to the walloping paradigm shift of ailing mothers.
A sensible person might have given up. I know many, many people who have stopped writing, and survived, maybe even thrived. But I can't stop (maybe if I enjoyed housework more?!?).
Instead I set about finding the fun in writing again - and that mostly meant writing for myself.
I joined an international pen pal club. My favorite part of the club involves monthly exchanges - lists, objects, stories. Writing letters about myself and my too-mother-filled life proved more burdensome and made me really grateful for phone calls and emails and text messages. I am not a natural letter writer.
I broke out my writing exercise books. Writing quick experimental pieces was fun, low-pressure, and gave me a sense of accomplishment on those days when in-depth writing sessions simply weren't possible. I started my writing life with Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down The Bones ten-minute timed writing, so this felt like a return to the passion I used to feel.
I wrote twelve short stories. No one seemed to understand why I was writing these stories, and I found myself answering the same questions over and over again. No, I'm not submitting them. No, they don't really have a theme. No, I'm not letting anyone read them. Yes, I am still writing those short stories. I felt sort of weird among my writing friends - like I'd become the oddball aunt who knits sweaters for her cats. Completing stories allowed me to actually finish a piece of writing, plus the short form worked better with my limited writing time. And it was fun. No pressure. Just for me.
I hadn't quite found all the fun in writing when I started a new novel, but I'd grown used to the new norms in my life, and I allowed myself to go with the flow (even though life's beavers keep trying to dam it up). The other day I sat down truly excited to write, and I realized, hey, the fun is back!