Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Joy to the Writer - 5 Ways to have fun

When you're grinding through a rewrite or stuck in the middle of a manuscript, it can be hard to remember (or even imagine) what a delight putting together stories can be. Yes. Sometimes you just have to trudge on through to "the end." But you might try a few exercises that can help you get the spark back.
  • Write a pastiche. Go reread a few pages of a favorite writer. Choose one with a strong, identifiable voice. Then write a page that sounds like it came from that author. If a scene comes to mind, jump in and get it down on paper. If not, write a scene that comes immediately after the conclusion of the story you sampled. For extra fun, insert a character from your work in progress (WIP). Don't fret over decisions here, just be playful.
  • Write from a prompt. There are a lot of these online. Writers Digest posts one each week. Grab a prompt that appeals to you and take it on a test drive.
  • Write a gift. This past summer, in celebration of my father's 100th birthday, I started up what I called The Missives Project - one hundred illustrated, one-page notes mailed to him, counting up to his party. Other family members contributed, but I wrote dozens of these, remembering events or recounting thematic experiences (like Christmases). Each one energized my writing and made me feel good about the process. So choose someone to send a note to and get to work.
  • Write for luck. Choose a happy moment in your life when things turned out better than you expected them to, by chance. Tell that story in a page.
  • Write on a dare. That scene that rattles around in your head and can't find a home? Or that you feel you're not ready to write? Get it out. Put it onto a page. Make it a dance like nobody's watching moment. 
The point here is to get your juices flowing and to recapture the good feelings writing can provide to you. This is not about creating distractions, so don't abandon your WIP to turn a fun exercise into another unfinished novel. Don't sacrifice too much writing time to this. Make it an appetizer, not a meal. (I set a timer for no more than 45 minutes, and I don't do one of these more than one hour per week.) Don't take it too seriously. Don't think about monetizing this work. Don't stress. Have fun. Find the joy.

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