How to fall in love with your novel again

Heart-shaped pagesLike any long-term relationship, your relationship with your novel will go through its ups and downs. There’ll be times you think it’s the best thing you’ve ever done, and times when you’ll feel like setting your computer alight to make sure no one can ever read the file.

I’ve hit both ends of this spectrum in the last week.

It’s difficult to know how to pull yourself out of a writing funk, but here are a few things I’ve found helpful.

1. Spend less time together.

Over-familiarity breeds contempt, and many of the times I hate my novel are when I’m thinking about it constantly. By taking a short break, I allow room for my creativity to recharge itself. Plus, since my memory is shockingly bad, after a week away I’ll have forgotten entire scenes and can see them fresh. And they’re usually not as bad as I thought they were.

2. Spend more time together.

The other times I hate my novel are when I’ve neglected it.

Yeah, striking a balance between neglect and indulgence is difficult, but it’s worth struggling to achieve it.

3. Develop other types of creativity.

Many writers have other creative hobbies that suffer when you decide to try to write professionally. I make quilts and am learning how to make clothes and how to embroider. By spending a few hours a week focusing entirely on something else, my characters get jealous and start screaming louder in my ear.

4. Figure out if there’s a trigger.

If you can figure out what happened to make you lose the joy, then you can try to address it. Is it stress at work? Harsh feedback? Poor contest results? A rejection from an agent or editor?

I know why I fell out of love with my novel last week – it came through some feedback that hit every single one of those doubts that’ve been lurking in the back of my head. It took me a week to tell my husband about it and, being the perfect man for me, he was furious. After telling me the person criticized my work because it was *too good* for her, he gave me this advice: “Never, *never* let one person kill your love for your writing.”

And with those words I fell in love all over again.

How do you fall back in love with your novel?

Image c. Ramzi Hashisho/sxc.hu

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6 Comments

Filed under Writer's toolbox

6 responses to “How to fall in love with your novel again

  1. Good post! Absence makes the heart grow fonder for me. If I pull away from the mss for a while, I’ll go back and be shocked at how much of it I actually do love. I pretty much gave up my quilting when I started trying to write as a second career (darn that day job)…reading this, now I wonder if I should give it some more time. And HURRAH for your hubby!

    • Katrina

      Suz, having seen pictures of your quilts, it’s a cryin’ shame there aren’t 48 hours in a day so you could continue making them. They’re among the most beautiful things I’ve seen. Then again, I wouldn’t want you to give up your writing time because I love your stories.

      And yes, my hubby’s a darn good man.

  2. You stay in love with your characters. If you can’t love the characters you’ve created, then no agent or editor or reader will either. And if you know them well enough and trust that you’ve made them as real as you can, then they’ll show you the way. (As previously said, I am clearly insane. But my characters would not let me go until I got it right.)

    • Katrina

      Good point, Kaki. I’d have given up a hundred times if I didn’t love my characters and want to make things better for them. Of course, I perversely enjoy making things worse for them first…

  3. Much wisdom here, Katrina. I’ve just finished my second draft and it’s been a bumpy ride. I often find if I’m in a funk with a scene, I can look back through previous scenes and see they’re actually very lovable – it’s just that the scene I’m currently wrestling with is not. Then I start looking for the trigger to really be involved with the scene. Then I can start finding what will really make me want to write it with full commitment.

    Your husband sounds divine and wise.

    • Katrina

      I think finding the trigger is key, Roz, and it can work both ways. For me, it can be discovering that I’m trying to force the characters into doing something that’s unnatural for them, or finding that perfect piece of dialogue that will turns the scene in a new direction. It’s either something to be eradicated, or celebrated.

      Glad your second draft is finished! Hope the polishing goes much more smoothly.

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