[The following is only a glimpse of the topic … not a transcription. This episode is about seven minutes long.]
It is so hard to write something when there’s no energy for it. Now, I don’t mean lack of energy because you didn’t get enough sleep or because you haven’t had your second cup of coffee yet.
I mean, it’s hard to write when there’s no enthusiasm for the project—when there’s no excitement for it. It’s hard to write when you’re missing that feeling of eager anticipation for digging in, when you’re lacking curiosity at what the finished product will be.
I’m not saying you won’t have to work, but even when a project is challenging, I hope the writer still senses energy for it.
One reason some writers secure a writing coach is because they’re lacking energy and trying to figure out why their writing lives or their writing projects are feeling kind of stuck and sluggish. They’re wondering where the energy is and how to find it. As a coach, I ask questions. I listen. And one of the things I’m listening for is energy.
Sometimes I can sense energy on the page, too. I’ll be reading a draft someone’s working on, and when I get to know a writer, I can tell by the tone of the piece where the energy is and where it kind of ran out.
I’m trying to help them find and follow the energy.
Find and Follow the Energy of a Writing Project
The following are signs that a project you’re working on has internal energy associated with it:
- Is it hard to pull yourself away from the work?
- Do you find yourself thinking about it while you’re falling asleep coming up with more ideas to scribble on a notepad in the dark?
- Do you find it hard to stop talking to others about it with an excited voice?
- Is it easier to do something you wouldn’t normally do in order to finish the work (for example, you find yourself getting up earlier because you can’t wait to get going)?
- Do feel like more ideas are spinning off of this this one?
- Are you going to be sad when the work is done, even though you’re excited and proud of the finished product?
Find and Follow the Energy in Response to Your Writing
Here are a few signs that your writing is producing energetic responses from others:
- Did your editor seem thrilled, even if you had to go back and make some changes?
- Were people reacting more on social media through likes, shares, and interactions?
- Did people contact you by email to talk with you more about it?
This energy is harder to gauge because we can’t climb inside someone’s mind to see or feel their energy, but these are a few indicators you may have found a sweet spot for your writing life.
Consider Your Writing Goals
Take a minute to think through and list your goals, short-term or long-term, big or small:
- Maybe you want to submit to a literary journal an essay you recently wrote.
- Maybe you want to finish up a poem you’ve been working on for a long time.
- Maybe you want to pitch an article to a business magazine.
- Maybe you want to start a blog, or start your blog back up if you have one and it’s been dormant.
- Maybe you want to launch a big project like a book, or you want to join November’s NaNoWriMo.
Now, what is behind those goals? Are they obligatory in some way? Do you think it’s “the right next step” for a writer at your stage?
Or did you gravitate to them because of the energy?
Find and follow the energy.
Because if we follow that energy, we’re on our way to a satisfying writing life.
Would you tell me a little about what energizes you—and what drains you—here in the comments? You can also visit my Facebook page to join the conversation there.
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—Phil Gulley, author of Front Porch Tales
Diane Bailey says
I love these podcasts! Thank you for your dedication to sharing writing wisdom with us.
Ann Kroeker says
Diane, I’m so glad you took time to read and comment. I hope you’re finding energy in your work?