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  • Heather Hansen

Finding Joy

Over the last six to eight months writing has been hard. That is to say, it’s always difficult because it’s work, not play. But I’ve slipped into this depressive state where the words don’t want to come. And worse, I don’t want to make them.

When I get depressed about my writing it affects every other aspect of my life. It’s not cute. Writing is how I empty my head of all the THOUGHTS. It’s difficult to love something and loathe it in equal measure.

I did the work anyway, even if I didn’t feel like it (because I’m a professional and it’s my job). Still, a page a day is wildly too slow, even if it eventually gets the book done. It’s been torture. I’m not a big fan of torture. Though I have a sneaking suspicion that every writer enjoys a tiny bit of masochism. They are in the publishing industry, after all.

I finally had to ask myself: What (besides the actual work) is holding me back? What can I improve so that I can love writing again?

The fun hasn’t been there in a long time. It’s difficult to divorce myself from knowing how much work it is to complete a draft, let alone three to four before I can hand over a manuscript. It takes months (and sweat and tears).

And then… it’s not up to me.

I will spend much of my life on books no one else may love. It’s become difficult to trust myself. Do I really want to fall in love with something that goes nowhere?


It seeps into every thought I have.

Not that I dislike what I’m writing. Not at all. I wouldn’t be writing it if I didn’t like it. Trust me, you can’t spend day after day with a project and not care for it.

But it’s more of the grueling kind of love.

I’m jealous of new writers who still have that joy in creating words and worlds. I want to live in that space where creation is the only thing I care about. I want to write and not be invested in the outcome (though I’m not sure that has ever been the case).

I needed to make plans and goals that I could control. Create stories that I can be proud of that don’t require approval from other people. I missed the joy from the act of putting the words to paper/computer and not caring about anything else.

I made a plan to write just for me. With zero expectation. In a genre I adore but that I can’t get traditionally published because the market is online. I didn’t want there to be any chance to consider: Hey, I’ll send this over to my agent and see what she thinks. Because if I did that, then it would become work. And I would be in a box. And there would be EXPECTATIONS. And… and… and…

It’s been amazing.

I thought that working on a side project would cut down on the productivity of my main project. But the reality is, it’s doubled (maybe even quadrupled) my productivity. I still focus on my “real” writing during “work hours.” But the “for me” writing—oh my, it’s so much fun. Still work. But FUN. And that energy feeds into the other book. And the “real” book has become fun too.

I want expression. And story. And FUN.

I also want to enjoy my real work too. And this, so far, has helped me reclaim that joy.

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