There comes a point in every writer’s life when they can’t face the blank page again. Whether you’re a copywriter or a fiction writer, that damn blank page has an insolent stare you can’t take anymore. It’s definitely time for a break.
Many experts, authors we love, expound the virtues of stepping away from your writing. Give your brain a rest, then refuel it with books, articles, essays, blog posts, videos, etc., that cause a spark.
But what can you do if you’re not a writer by trade—or passion? Regardless of your career choice, you must write something to someone, even if it’s an email to your team. How can you possibly fall in love with writing?
Here are five ways you can fall in love with writing even if it is not your forte.
1. Write about why you hate writing
Seriously. Take 20-30 minutes and just write your feelings. All the ugly, unreasonable thoughts crowding your mind telling you why you hate to write. Believe it or not, writing about hating writing will help you face your emotions and conquer them. You’ll also learn the reason deep down you fear writing.
Because everyone, even a best-selling author, fears something. For most, it’s Imposter Syndrome. We have an excellent post you should read, "A Writer’s Biggest Fear: And It’s Not Spiders."
Writing about your feelings also helps you cope with them. That’s why so many experts and psychologists recommend you journal.
You could journal to understand your feelings, capture your best ideas before you forget them, or empty your mind onto paper. Expressive writing, research has found, will help you get over your ambivalence towards writing.
2. Stop writing for approval
The beauty of writing isn’t in how grammatically correct or eloquent your prose. It’s in how you get your ideas across. The best way to focus on your ideas is to stop writing for someone else’s approval.
We were all subjected to grammar Nazis in school. Teachers who pounded you with English rules and then made you learn the exceptions to the rules as well. Who can keep that stuff straight? You don’t need to, thanks to tools like ProWritingAid.
An editing tool like ProWritingAid helps you polish your writing so it will pass muster with your 6th grade English teacher who always glared at you above her spectacles. Stop writing for her approval (or your boss’s) and focus on your ideas. That’s what you want others to read. Not your perfect grammar and punctuation. There’s an app for that.
3. Step away from your writing frequently
This may sound counter-intuitive, but stepping away and doing some mindless chore can help your brain relax and make more interesting connections.
Set a timer and write for 20 minutes. Then when the timer blares, take 10 minutes. Go for a walk. Play fetch with your dog. Fold laundry. Anything mindless will get your brain subconsciously working to find new and better ways to write something.
When you sit back down at your computer, you’ll feel fresh and ready to start again. Especially if you’re writing a long, detailed report for work, something that’s fairly technical, you need to step away and let your mind refresh itself. Even the most seasoned writers can’t stay plugged into their computer for 10 hours a day, pounding on the keyboard, and have something intelligent come out on the page.
Here’s an excellent post about why even professional writers need time away from their computers.
4. Find a writing mentor
Something about working with a professional who’s passionate about their craft can inspire you. And when you’re inspired, your writing shows it. Your ideas flow better and you’ll stop worrying so much about what others might think. It becomes more important to express your ideas and thoughts.
The key is to find someone who truly loves the craft, not the punctuation and grammar end of business. Editors and editing software help with that. Don’t get so caught up in writing the perfect sentence; try to capture some of your mentor’s enthusiasm and let it pour out on paper.
A writing mentor will help you find the stupendous ideas you have. Because our world doesn’t need more safe, stolid writers who write for the status quo. We need someone who pushes the envelope and makes us think. That could be you.
5. Analyze good writing
Someone in your organization always sends out the best emails. And another person’s technical papers make you want to read more.
What makes their writing so good? Take the time to pick it apart and discover their secrets.
You’ll probably find that good writing today is conversational, not stilted or academic. You feel like the author is speaking directly to you, sometimes even reading your mind. One way to write engaging and compelling work is to picture a single individual to whom you are speaking. Focus on that individual and how you might reach him or her with words. What would you say? How could you phrase it that grabs their attention?
I’m not suggesting you copy another’s style and tone, although sometimes that can help your writing improve. It’s more about finding your own voice. What makes you original and unique? And how can you use the tricks someone else uses to make your writing stand out?
As a professional writer, I sometimes get tired of writing.
Don’t get me wrong. I love writing, but some projects are hard to love. When that happens, I use the suggestions above to help me refocus and get back to work.
And if that fails, take a good hard look at what you’re writing. Maybe it’s the subject you’re not passionate about. And that’s a whole different blog post!