Time to Change Things Up?
Sometimes, change can be healthy in your writing life.
So, Marit headed out for her Polyface internship this last week. And of course we’re all so excited about it!
*insert distant, lonely sobbing here*
But seriously! It’s such a great opportunity for her, and the Lord opened so many doors. It was clearly the path for her this summer. While I’m not as directly affected by her move as her family, this move certainly changed up our co-writing lives, at least for a season. And that got me to thinking.
Change can be a good thing.
Okay, you don’t understand how monumental it is for me to say that out loud. I. Don’t. Like. Change. Some people like chance, and I respect them for that, but change is hard for me, and it always has been.
That being said, I’ve learned, particularly in my writing life, that change can be really healthy for three reasons.
1. Change prevents burnout.
In some research for a college paper on writing, one author recommended always having three writing projects on hand. When you get stuck in one, jump to another. When you get stuck in that project, jump to another. You always have other options. It prevents you from coming to a screeching halt when you hit writer’s block. It keeps you exercising those writing muscles. Is that to say you’ll never have to stop and think really hard and brainstorm? Absolutely not. (More on brainstorming here.) Having to stop everything and just think about your project (particularly after getting stuck) is par for the course with writing. But will that be less frequent? Yes, I think so. At least, it has been for me. I find myself avoiding writer’s block, producing fruitful ideas much easier, and coming to each project refreshed and renewed. I’m more motivated to write when I have options, and several of my pieces are even in different genres. They’re entirely different, new, and fresh, which is really helpful when you’re stuck in the muck of writer’s block.
Even in our co-writing, Marit and I put a pause on our second novel at the beginning of the year, and each of us pursued something different for a little while. This turned out to be very helpful for our individual writing, our excitement about the novel-in-progress, and our creativity in plotting and character development.
2. Change helps you appreciate the norm.
People don’t typically miss the mundane and normality of human life until it’s drastically changed in some way. I think that spills over into our writing lives as well. You won’t miss the project you’re working on until you’ve done something else for a little while. You don’t fully appreciate the project until you step back and have a fresh outlook. It ultimately will help you enjoy your project even more than you think you already do. After all, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”
3. Change broadens your horizons.
As I mentioned earlier, I have several genres of projects right now. A play. A personal essay. A YA novel. A medieval, fantasy novel, and a children’s book. Across the boards, pretty much, you name it, I’m working on it. But the great thing is, I’m learning so much about the different genres as I work on them. When I was working on poetry at the same time as creative nonfiction, I discovered ways to make my nonfiction more concrete and vivid, and how to make my fiction more succinct. As I currently work on a one-act play, I’m learning helpful tips for plotting and character-development and creating stories rife with conflict and tension. Working on several projects at once helps you learn about the writing craft.
Always remember, change is inevitable, except from a vending machine. Change can be good if you approach it and use it in the right away. So why not use that change to your writing advantage?