Bringing The Fun Back Into Writing

Hey, All! Stephanie here, with my good friend and fellow pub-crawler, Stacey Lee. Today, we are so excited to talk about two of our favorite things: writing and fun!

Stephanie: It’s the beginning of November, which means NaNoWriMo has just begun!

I love the idea of NaNo. I love that it’s a race to write fast, and one that everyone can win. So instead of competing, people are rooting for one another. A wide array of authors give inspirational pep talks. Strangers write together in coffee shops. Friendships are formed as people participate in group writing sprints.

NaNo is fun! And I think this is a key reason why it is so enduring. I don’t know about all of you, but whenever I’m feeling particularly stuck, uninspired, or that everything I’m writing is really garbage-y, I think it’s because I’ve forgotten to have fun with it. And I believe it’s nearly impossible to write a story others will love if you’re not feeling any love as you write.

So Stacey and I have put together a list of, Seven Ways To Bring The Fun Back Into Your Writing:

1. Fall in love with words again.

Stephanie: When I was younger, being the super-cool kid that I was, I sat in my room a lot and read my thesaurus. I loved discovering new words. I’d highlight the ones that sounded most interesting then write little stories around them. Sadly, my teachers often informed me I was actually using many of these words incorrectly—but that’s another story.

The point of this story is, I made an effort to uncover new words as if they were treasures to be found. I’m not sure when I stopped (probably around the time I started making friends), but lately I’ve started hunting for words again, and listing all the lovely words that I’d been neglecting. It inspires me—like finding the perfect party dress and deciding to throw a party because of it. Now it’s even easier to re-discover words with awesome sites like thesaurus.com.

Some of my most recent favorites include:

Arsenic, Rancor, Lurid, Insidious, Velveteen, Ephemeral

I’m also a big fan of McGraw-Hill’s Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions.

Slang Dictionary

This book also has a thematic index. For example, if you’re searching for a term to use in place of liquor store, you’d find: candy store, comfort station, filling station, guzzelry, happy shop, headache department, headache house, juice house, leeky store, LIQ, oasis, thirst-aid station.

2. Commandeer your setting.

Stacey: Stand up, and wiggle your shoulders. Roll out your neck. Now make fists and pump them toward the heavens and say, “I am Master of my domain!”

Now sit back down and examine the world you’ve created. How can you make it better? Don’t settle for what’s ordinary, or expected because when we do that, we put readers (and ourselves) to sleep. Make it more vivid, more memorable. How? By not just adding a crooked door to the cottage, but creating an emotional connection between the crooked door and your character. Maybe every time your character sees the door, she remembers how her dad kicked it down when her mom locked him out. Or maybe the door is always threatening to fall. You can create a lot of layers, and have even more fun with your writing, by commandeering your setting.

3. Let Your Imagination Leap Out Windows.

Stephanie: A couple weeks ago a former student of mine sent me this lovely quote:

Her imagination was by habit ridiculously active; if the door wasn’t opened to it, it jumped out the window. –Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady

When I read this I pictured a bored woman jumping out of a window. But I believe the author is really saying that writers should shrug off anything confining them and take bold daring risks that will bring them to frightening and dangerous places. This goes beyond breaking rules. It’s simple to say, “I don’t care  about what everyone says, I’m going to start my book with my character waking up.” But mining deep within yourself, to find a subject that will not only force your reader to see some facet of the world through a different lens but stretch you as a writer, that is something else entirely. This might not be ‘fun,’ but it’s definitely exciting.

4. Find Reasons To Celebrate:

Stacey: I think sometimes we’re running so fast, we forget to stop at the rehydrating stations. Celebrations are one of the ways we can rehydrate, along with eating and sleeping and laughing. I book a spa appointment every time I turn a draft in on time—my own private pat on the back for making my deadline. And speaking of celebrations, Stephanie and I are preparing a celebration for our one-year anniversary on Tumblr because it’s basically an excuse to be merry and giveaway an awesome stash of books.

5. Pick a Theme Song

Stephanie: I know a lot of people do playlists, which are also awesome, but playlists usually encompass a variety of emotions. A theme song should be your anchor to one distinct feeling, which you are excited about threading throughout your entire novel.

For the first book I wrote, Hoppípolla by Sigur Rós was my theme song. It was whimsical and beautiful, and it made me think of make-believe things come to life. Whenever I felt as if my writing was stale, I would put that song on and it reminded me of what I was attempting to achieve.

6. Get into a good story.

Stacey: Nothing helps me rediscover the joy of writing like reading a good book, watching an awesome film or play. When I’ve reached a roadblock, sometimes just reading the words of others inspires me to go back and kick some roadblock bootie. Great stories I’ve experienced recently:

  • Phantom of the Opera musical (made me want to write a tragic love story!)
  • The movie The Martian (plotting brilliance)
  • Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton (the evil scheming ballerinas!)

 7. Participate in NaNoWriMo.

We know the month has already started, but it’s not too late to join in the fun.

Now it’s your turn! We’d love to hear any tips you have that might help put the fun back into writing!

silly pick of s and s

                 

10 Responses to Bringing The Fun Back Into Writing

  1. Katie Nov 4 2015 at 10:11 am #

    I LOVE this post so much! This is such a wonderful list of ideas, and I definitely agree ^^ I actually have a theme song that I picked out to motivate me, not for a particular story, but for writing in general. When I first heard American Authors’ song “Best Day of My Life,” all I could think was, “This is exactly how I’m going to feel when I finally get an agent.” I’m still working on finishing my manuscript, so I haven’t even gotten to the point of editing, researching agents, or querying. However, every time I hear that song it’s like an extra boost of energy and “I can do this!” And when I finally get to that point, I’m going to reward myself by buying the song and playing it on repeat for 24 hours straight xD It’s such a small little thing, and even I can’t quite understand why it’s so motivating for me, but it does the trick!

    Anyway, thanks for the lovely post! And if either of you are doing NaNo, good luck to you! 🙂

    • Stephanie
      Stephanie Nov 4 2015 at 10:33 am #

      Oh, Katie! Just reading this made me smile. I think writing can be the most joyful thing, but it’s so easy to lose that joy sometimes, so I’m so happy you’ve found a way to hold onto it. And I have no doubts that when you do get an agent you will totally feel all the joy expressed in that song–which is a great song. Thanks so much for sharing this!

  2. Rowenna Nov 4 2015 at 12:30 pm #

    Yes! to a theme song! I’ve done this for most of my projects–listening gets me jazzed to dive back into the world I’ve created. It’s fun.

    One thing I’ve experimented with lately is having a secret Pinterest board for projects–just little slips of digital ephemera that speak to the aesthetic or the world or characters or whatever. Looking over it gets me back in the writing mode, and finding the perfect image to add to a pinboard is a fun reminder of how much I love writing even when I’m not writing 🙂

    • Stephanie Garber
      Stephanie Garber Nov 4 2015 at 1:04 pm #

      Yes, Pinterest! That is a great suggestion. Secret pinboards are one of my favorite things. There is nothing like that feeling of finding the perfect pin. <3

  3. Ann Nov 4 2015 at 6:43 pm #

    This post is perfect timing for me. I just gutted the novel I’ve been working on for 5 years. I am scared and excited to rebuild it, but I forgot how important it is to have fun. I know my characters and their world so well that even though it’s a sad story, I think it’s time to let them have some fun. And that will make it more fun for me! Thanks!!

    • Stephanie Garber
      Stephanie Garber Nov 5 2015 at 11:38 am #

      It would be hard to keep having fun after working on something for five years! But it sounds as if you really love this story, so I’m sure you’ll start having fun again, and that book will be all the more amazing because of it. 🙂

  4. Alexa S. Nov 4 2015 at 7:31 pm #

    I LOVE THIS POST, LADIES! It came at just the right moment for me, seeing as how I’m working on a story for NaNoWriMo. I’m fully embracing letting my imagination run the show, which is something that I’ve found hard to do… at least until I started writing this story. And I, surprisingly, have a playlist set up for the story, with a sort of atmospheric sound/vibe that really characterizes this story for me. Great tips ladies!

    • Stephanie Garber
      Stephanie Garber Nov 5 2015 at 11:42 am #

      Thanks so much, Alexa! And yay for embracing imagination! I could seriously feel the enthusiasm for this project in your comment–sounds as if it’s going to be awesome. 🙂

  5. Beverly Rearick Nov 9 2015 at 10:44 am #

    I have to say that this post couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I just wrote in my blog this morning how I’ve actually been thinking about giving up writing because I felt like I lost that love. It was actually a young teenager that I talked to this weekend about writing who actually made me see that I still love writing I just needed to find that excitement that I use to have.

    I’m going to share this post with my readers!!

    • Stacey
      Stacey Nov 17 2015 at 12:13 pm #

      Thank you for saying that Beverly. I think we all go through that. And I’m so glad you were inspired! That actually inspires ME! 🙂

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