A Novel Approach, pt. 6, (Falling in Love Again)

(Continued from yesterday.)

But let’s say you’re already challenging the rules and you’re already working on multiple projects at once, and you’re still wondering how to get that spark back, how to go beyond simply loving your project (as if there were anything simple about love!) and, instead, falling in love with it all over again.

Let’s start with something very basic you can do to rekindle that flame: Ask yourself why you started working on the project in the first place.

I do this fairly frequently, and I usually do it in writing. Most of the time, I’ll write some fairly pointed questions in bold letters at the top of a page: Why am I doing this? What is this book about? Why does it matter to me? Sometimes I’ll set a timer and give myself five minutes to come up with an answer. It’s a little bit like taking a midterm exam, but instead of dredging my memory for the right answers, I pour my heart out onto the page.

Later, I go back and read what I’ve written. Sometimes it’s sappy. Sometimes it’s incoherent. But that doesn’t matter. It’s not like anyone else is going to read it.

What does matter, however, is that I’ve had a chance to recalibrate my bearings, to remind myself what’s especially meaningful in the piece that I’m working on, and thus, to some extent, to give myself permission not to worry so much about the parts of the project that are bringing me down or wracking me with doubt and self-loathing. The answer I come up with, in other words, serves as my North Star as all of the details and complications of the narrative continue to pile up.

(Continued tomorrow.)