It’s my lucky day! (I know, when I’m happy, I go off into weird Jack Sparrow tandems.) Raincouver has taken a break, and the last three days have been sunny despite winter still raging, and I feel a hint of spring in the air…
“And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.”C. S. Lewis
Today, we have another installation of Author Health, which is my second favourite series after Afternoon Tea. (And happens to be the only other series besides that.) We’ve covered grounds of self-care tips & c. so far, but I thought it would be fun to cover actual writing habits–3 Habits to Write What You Love.
Over the years in my writing career (as if I have such a long time frame to claim), I’ve come to realise this is the key component in being a happy writer–writing what makes you happy.
Sure, it might not sell at that moment. No one may want to read about classical composers with superpowers based on their famous compositions. *Totally not ripping off BSD* But as long as it makes you happy, it will eventually make other people with niché interests like yours very, very, happy. And what’s a writer who doesn’t like their work? (Just outed every writer in the vicinity, I did.)
1. Take an inventory of stories you love
The very first thing I went and did was to create various book lists. For those of you who don’t know, I’m either a 5 or 1 enneagram, INFJ, Ravenclaw, and Planner leaning towards Plantser. I would spend my spare time creating and reading lists. Neatly organised lists make me so happy I could cry.
So naturally, I created a list of stories I love. I also made a list of my favourite things (Theology, conspiracy theories, things that sound hard…), elements I like in stories (Intelligence in MC, Antiquity, weird people…) and so on. From those lists, it became pretty clear what I appreciate in stories, thematic elements I’m drawn towards, and what I place importance on.
Like my Review Policy states, I can’t stand books with terrible prose. (Or modern-ish prose? I’m not entirely sure about the technicalities…) I can stand reasonably bad characters, but I can’t stand stupid MCs. *totally not looking at HP* I’m not too particular about plots, except I would like them as convoluted as possible. Et ad infinitum.
2. Stuff your story with elements you love
After you have a good idea of what you like in a certain story, proceed to stuff yours with those elements. I have a twisted sense of humour. Combine that with a wanna-be neuroscientist’s knowledge and non-denominational theology, you have entertaining conversations wondering which part of the cut-up concubine got sent to the 12 tribes of Israel in Judges 19. I mean, seriously, which tribe got the head? (Although, I do have to credit Mum for that one. She and I tried to figure out how to divide a body into 12 parts one night.)
3. Build a solid aesthetic for each story
After I cram a certain book with things I love, I usually figure out the aesthetic for that story.
For Juliet, it’s mostly clean minimal, although the backstory has dark academia feel to it.
Woodstone is a decidedly academia feel–both dark and light.
In Elektriem, it’s grunge and vintage combined with west-coast nature aesthetic.
Having this clear aesthetic for each story gives me an idea of personality for my WiPs. Although it’s clear I lean towards DA or minimal aesthetics, I like changing the sub-genres within them. (Juliet is sci-fi, so the DA elements are more STEM oriented than Woodstone, which is based on the seven liberal arts as magic systems.)
I find that habitually going back to the story’s origins, figuring out which elements I want to write about, and collecting aesthetics for them recharges that energy and “first love” feel that wears off after plodding through a specific WiP. It’s important to know the theoretical side of why you write but it’s also as important to know in your heart what sparks joy in writing.
What sparks joy in stories? What do your favourite stories entail? Why are you drawn towards them? Once you find those answers, you’ll be surprised at how much on a deeper level you can take your writing.
(FYI, I’m probably Academia crazy because I love studying. I’m also wild about classics because I grew up on them. On a deeper level, I find comfort in gaining knowledge…when I don’t know things, that’s when I start feeling stressed.)
So, when you find you’re stagnated in a certain WiP, take a step back–what was it about the story you first found fascinating? What’s something that you can add to the story to make you love it even more? Why does it matter to you personally?
And that’s it for today.
Thank you for reading! What do you think? Which stories or elements do you love? What’s one thing that sparks joy in your writing projects? Do you have a favourite aesthetic? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!