Thursday, April 11, 2013

A joyful journey

"It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters, in the end." ~Ursula K. LaGuin

Working hard to achieve our goals is an important part of a healthy life. If our only focus, however, is the payoff at the end, we're robbing ourselves of our life essence. Think about that. It's easy for a writer to care more about finishing a story and having it published than the journey. But that's a huge mistake. There's a lot to gain from the journey.


Ways to to enjoy the journey

Focus on craft - You shouldn't be writing if you don't love the craft. Seriously. Not only would that be counterproductive, but if you're looking for riches and fame, you should probably to look elsewhere. So, assuming you're writing because you love the craft, if you find yourself disliking the journey, wishing a story would just wrap itself up, remind yourself why you started writing in the first place. You might need to step back and work on something unrelated to your current project. Create a new character just for fun. When's the last time you did that? Or just free-write for thirty minutes, let your mind go wherever it wants. Before long, you'll most likely fall in love with the craft all over again and the journey will be richer for it.


Never stop learning - Learning gives us a new perspective on things. Writers, especially, should always be learning something, about a character or by researching for a story - or looking at something in a new way. Even if it's just a matter of trying a new craft technique, it's bound to help you enjoy the journey.

Set reasonable goals - If you expect too much too soon, you're only setting yourself up for failure, which will probably become obvious somewhere along the way, making the journey seem pointless. It's hard to enjoy a journey that has no purpose. 

Learn to manage your time - This is a big one. To be a writer, you have to write. To be a good writer, you have to write a lot. It can be difficult to make time for it, but we have to do it. On the other hand, don't let it take over your entire existence. It's just as difficult to stop writing when you're in a flow as it is to start when you're in a slump.

Tomorrow's post - How to help kids develop as writers

25 comments:

  1. Great tips which will come in useful, Thanks for sharing.

    Yvonne.

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  2. Great post -- finding joy doesn't just apply to writing, but to everything in our lives. I like that you suggest to take a step back from work if we're not enjoying it -- sometimes you need a little distance from the problem to understand why it's not bringing joy. Is it the time you're committing? Not feeling successful? etc. Life is too short to spend it on things that don't bring us joy.

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    1. So true. We need to enjoy every step of our entire lives.

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  3. A great reminder to write for the fun of it. I remember reading "life's the ride, not the destination" on a bathroom wall when I was about 12 and finding it very profound. It still ring's true. I'm having fun creating new characters each day for my A-Z theme. One of them might even end up with her own novel. That's part of the joy of writing.

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    1. That's a great A to Z theme, Shell. That's great you're having fun with it. :)

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    2. LOVE that idea! Think I'll steal it next year :D Seriously, one of the best things to keep me in the joy of it as I also try to transition toward treating writing like a "real job" is random fiction--flash fiction challenges that take me out of my usual area, going ahead and writing a bit around a phrase or scene that floats into my mind.

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  4. I really love your suggestion of focusing on the craft and spending 30 minutes free writing, I haven't done that in far too long!

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    1. I'm about due for a good free write myself.

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  5. Great post! I'm tweeting this one!

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  6. I find joy is crucial when it comes to writing. Time management is a little tricky with so many new things constantly coming up. We're turning into multitasking mavens. :)
    Great to be here and visit with you.
    Silvia @ Silvia Writes

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    1. So true. I'm having a conversation with my son while I'm typing this. ;)

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  7. Excellent advice. I write a lot for my profession, so when I get to write for fun (which is usually related to my hobbies - either gaming, science fiction, music, or pipe smoking) I try only to write what really interests me, and to have as much fun as I can!

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    1. Good for you, Chuck! If it's not fun than it's probably not worth it.

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  8. I think learning to set reasonable goals is one of the hardest things for a writer. It requires meta-cognition - awareness of how you think and act, which in turn requires a lot of critical thinking and tactics. The lucky few can map that stuff out instinctively. Most others drown in the wealth of free advice that may have only ever worked for one other person. It took me a couple years to really understand how I was most productive over periods of days.

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    1. That's awesome that you figured out your own thing, John. It's true that we're all different and therefore have different ways we learn and are productive. Great point.

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  9. Your point about writing because you love it applies to so much more than writing. If you're going to spend a lot of time on anything in life, it should be something you love!

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    1. You are absolutely right. This post started to become much broader and cover more areas, but then I remembered I was doing a writing theme for A to Z. It actually made my task a lot easier to narrow it down. :)

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  10. "Never stop learning"
    I LOVE that advice.

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    1. Me too! Learning should never stop until the day we die.

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  11. I loved all of your advice. I want you to know that I am leery of advice in general, unless I think it is really good, original, and worthwhile.
    ALL of yours is exactly that!
    Thank you so much! Jean

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    1. Aw, thanks, Jean! You just made all this worthwhile. :)

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