Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Finding That Loving Feeling (Again) by Sydney Salter

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!


  1. I have also found short pieces of writing--short stories, essays, flash fiction, journal entries--a welcome relief when I just don't have a book-length project in me.

  2. I hear you, Sydney! Many of my writer friends have found ourselves in the same treading water kind of place and we're doing the same kinds of things you are. Switching genres. Writing fan fiction. Playing around with poetry. Oh, and I second your love for Writing Down the Bones. I've read all of Natalie Goldberg's books and find them very helpful.

  3. Great ideas for finding the writing mojo again!

  4. Glad you found the fun in writing again, Sydney, and looking forward to seeing where it takes you!

  5. Love this! I was in a similar place and started writing poetry for children just to explore the joy of language.