How I Fell Back in Love with Writing

November has rolled in, and I decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The last time I took part in NaNoWriMo was back in 2015 (yikes!). I wrote over 90,000 words of a fantasy novel in a single month, squeezing in writing time before and after work and sometimes even on my lunch break. It was all-consuming and both wonderful and terrifying. The novel was a complete rewrite of a book I had written in college, probably from 2008-2010.

On December 1, 2015, I finished NaNoWriMo, but the draft of my novel was still essentially unfinished. Though I was very close.

I never finished that draft.

I was so burned out on writing; I took a short break. But that break lasted years. The book fell into the archives of my computer, and while I thought about it over the years, I never picked it back up. The sheer size of it intimidated me. The ending had long since flown out of my head.

Since then, I’ve written other novels. A YA novel and a mystery novel. While both stories have some kind of potential, I’ve lost them a bit. The mystery has a really incredible twist that no one will see coming (at least I thought so). The issue with it is that it now contains a lot of topics and scenes that would likely be triggering for me to read. It’s not a headspace I can enter right now, and sometimes we have to acknowledge that our stories may not be the right fit for us. We spend so much time worrying about the audience of our stories that we lose track of the meaning they hold for us.

The YA novel I wrote is still something I plan to revisit. It was a story I wrote in spare morning moments before work. It is a novel that focuses on bullying and abandonment. When I wrote it, I was facing some bullying by coworkers. I was an adult but felt like I was back in the midst of high school. It was an awful period that really stressed me out, but this book got me through it. And for that alone, I am thankful. I’ve come back to it a few times over the years, wondering about how I could weave the story differently to make it exactly what I want. It’s definitely lingering in the back of my mind, and I plan on picking it up again.

Moving forward a bit in time, in between all these novels, I wrote short stories and poems. I took excessively long writing breaks when I just couldn’t find the words. I hated that I couldn’t find the words, and good, well-meaning friends badgered me about my lack of writing, not understanding that sometimes you absolutely cannot create. And I’m here to tell you that those periods exist for all writers, and they are okay. They are normal. Every writer faces these mental blocks against writing differently. All I could do was take the breaks when I needed to. The words always came back to me eventually, and I embraced the time when they did.

“A word after a word after a word is power.”

-Margaret Atwood

This year, I kind of tricked myself into getting back into writing. It was something I knew I needed to do, for a lot of reasons. I grew tired of these periods of amazing productivity and then long dry spells, where nothing happened. Some of those dry spells stemmed from a deluge of rejection from magazines. I’d submit short stories and poems only to get them rejected one by one. It’s disheartening, and I lost my love of writing a bit. And a bit more, and a bit more. Until writing became this chore that I was forcing myself to do instead of what it used to be. Absolute joy and love.

Back in 2008, when I drafted my very first novel, I lived for it in a way I cannot describe. At the time, I was living in Milwaukee, and I’d carve out huge stretches of time to write at a coffee shop or my university’s library. The words flowed. The story went forward in this amazing, beautiful way that I couldn’t stop and didn’t want to stop. When I finished, I think I read through it one time before printing it out and shipping it to Tor where it inevitably ended up in their slush pile, and I hope not long after into the dumpster fire it belonged in.

I had absolutely no concept of drafts and editing. I knew nothing about beta readers, and I wrongly assumed that all the necessary editing would be done by the publisher’s editor if the book was made an offer. How naïve I was.

But the point of this- and I swear, there is a point, is that I loved that story at that time more than anything. I believed in the words. I believed in my process, and I trusted myself to write what I loved. But somewhere along the way, I lost it. That delight in writing.

As the years passed since I wrote that first novel, I had small moments of joy while writing, but often I found myself at war with myself, trying to force the words to come out. During a majority of the first year or so of covid, I was editing old stories. I couldn’t bring myself to write new words, but I could edit the old ones. I had given birth to my son during covid and was learning a lot about myself and the world. Enjoying writing was still beyond me.

In March, I set myself a goal. I had to write 4 days a week. Or try to get as close to that as possible. It didn’t have to be new writing. I could edit, rewrite, whatever. I just wanted to get back in the headspace where I thought about writing. I rewrote short story after short story, but it wasn’t until I met another writer, Nicole Evans, who runs the amazing blog Thoughts Stained with Ink that I rediscovered my love for writing.

Nicole is both a professional editor and writer and a million other amazing things. When I first sent her stories, she gave me incredibly helpful feedback that I could work with. She had this keen eye for seeing what was missing, what wasn’t working in the story. And I’ll admit, at first, I was enormously frustrated. Why couldn’t I turn out a perfect first draft?

The answer is- because no one can. NO ONE. And suddenly, I had 7 or 8 drafts of a story. And the story grew and became more beautiful than I could ever have imagined. And I fell a little back in love with writing because, for the first time in my life, I had fallen in love with editing my own work. When May rolled around, I rewrote a novella I had written. It had been written in the present tense and when I reread it, I cringed. It was not working, but it was a story I believed in.

The draft of this novella was around 25,000 words. It took me a month to rewrite, but along the way, I wasn’t really getting any ideas for major changes. I flagged sections that I knew were big issues and kept going, rewriting the novella into past tense while fixing little mistakes along the way. It felt like no progress, but it ended up being the biggest progress I’ve ever made.

Around the last ten pages, I realized what the story was missing. And in that single moment, the floodgates of my mind flew back open. I’m not trying to be dramatic, but it’s exactly what I felt like. This story that I cared about wasn’t working, but I knew it could. And somewhere amid that rewriting, I figured it out. And I knew that in order to get the story where I wanted it to be, I would have to add a character POV that was non-existent in the first draft.

I’m now about 68,000 words into this draft of my novel. The words don’t always flow easily, but I have become so obsessed with writing this story, that for the first time in years, I feel like my love of writing has overcome everything else- fear of rejection, fear of not being published, and imposter syndrome.

This story consumed me. And with it, other stories kept coming. I’m not sure if other writer’s experience this, but once I am in these blissful depths of a story, when the words hit the page running and my mind can’t keep up, new story ideas sprout into my mind like the coming spring- blooming and bountiful. They glimmer in my mind, popping into my head every spare moment. It’s a wonderful feeling, and while I don’t want to break the progress on my novel, I don’t want to lose these story threads either. I’m writing them down, drafting scenes when I can, and I’m loving every moment.

I’m a writer because I love it. It fuels me and relaxes and frustrates me in a way nothing else can. Every minute I spend writing new words or editing old ones into something new fills me with wonder. I’m reveling in the process once again, even though, for such a long time, I lost this joy. It’s okay to fall out of love with writing. I think it happens to most writers out there at some point. But know too that it doesn’t have to be permanent. Sometimes, life will just bump you back into the flow. Sometimes you have to be the one to push yourself. But the words will be there, and they’ll be waiting.

Whatever you do, don’t stop believing that you can do it because the best kind of writing is the kind we do for ourselves first. For anyone who struggles with this, I hope the words find you.

8 thoughts on “How I Fell Back in Love with Writing

Add yours

  1. Absolutely love how you were able to get back into the love of writing and what your journey was in getting there. Beautifully written


  2. This is beautiful Nicole, so glad you found your love of writing again – may stories always be bountifully blooming for you, look forward to reading some in the future 🙂


  3. THIS MAKES ME SO HAPPY I AM GOING TO CRY. (Also, I promise not to start all comments in all caps, oops). 😭 I am *so* glad you found your love of writing again, because not only do you tell wonderful stories, but just finding your way back to the levels we used to have in high school or college (god, what does the world do to us that we constantly have to chase and fight to that get joy again!?) is so exciting. I am so stoked for you and, no matter what hiccups you encounter, I know you can do it!


  4. I love this so much, oh my gosh. You nailed it exactly, that feeling of being lost in the words, and all the connections your brain starts making—best feeling in the world! I think (I hope) I’m coming out of one of these slumps now, also thanks to yours and Nicole’s encouragement, and I can’t wait to hopefully get back into that flow state again soon!


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