Writing the Unromantic

Photo by  Tonny Tran

Photo by Tonny Tran

How to love writing when it get’s boring.

There come times where I find myself writing pieces that don’t strike me as particularly inspirational.

If not the work in it’s entirety, there are almost always at least components or aspects of writing that just don’t align with those romantic visions of sitting in enchanted woodlands writing our hearts out.

Proof reading, editing, researching, citing…they’re all necessary pieces of this sort of creative composition that contribute to producing work that we can be proud of.

…but they still kind of suck sometimes.

This is the case, for me, even with topics that I’m truly passionate about.

Whether its backing up my assertions with scientific studies or proofreading for the millionth time, it’s at these times that I struggle to muster the motivation to do my best work, often just wanting to be done.

This craving can come at the cost of quality, enjoyment, and satisfaction…

So how do we deal with these unromantic aspects?

Ask: Why Am I Writing?

Ruthlessly question intentions around why we write. They often change at so rapid a pace that this constant inquiry is necessary.

The work I seek to put out in the world is always important to me in some shape or form. But that doesn’t mean that it’s always easy to write; I’ll have ideas and knowledge that seem stunningly simple to put into words. At least in theory.

I inevitably, however, get caught up in further research, reflection, the desire to play devils advocate, and doing things like tracking down complimentary information that I think would benefit my readers.

My intention for these pieces, or at least the intention I try to maintain, is that they benefit others, and that my own experience and insight is presented in a digestible, pragmatic way.

My intentions reinforce the value of my experience, helping me to remember that what I have to say needs to be heard.

Yet despite this truth, my writing always benefits from being scrutinized and augmented by outside resources. It’s this process of interweaving my thoughts with those that support my works that can quickly become cumbersome.

But remembering my motivation in those moments where I’m reading and re-reading millions of scientific articles helps persevere. I can also challenge myself in trying to find creative and interesting ways to present knowledge that may not seem so intriguing at first.

Don’t Set a Deadline

I don’t publish on a schedule.

Rushing never does me any good.

Allowing my mind to wander in the minutes, days, or even weeks between making edits to something helps me to cultivate patience, and often adds substantial depth to my work.

It makes the unromantic more appealing, and so giving myself time is always important (if its feasible).

Add Personal Experience

I’m always pleasantly surprised at how much I resonate with personal anecdotes that other writers include in their stories, even if they’re more scientifically inclined.

Whether its personal experience with a dietary practice, a memory that relates to a teaching or insight, or really anything else in between, I always feel more engaged when writers use “I”.

This is very much my preference, but one that I’ve come to see as being valuable both from my perspective as well as those of my readers.

Get It All Out

I’m a big proponent of word vomits.

They help me when writing pretty much anything, but become especially important with pieces that are more dry.

Getting words onto paper, without editing the first or even second time around, helps me. Even if it’s all nonsense.

I find it far easier to write when I have something to work with. Blank pages can be really damn intimidating.

Word vomits help form the basis for outlines, and can get all the “useless” stuff out of my head that either bring about or make room for better ideas.

I hope this piece was of some value to you. And I’m curious- how do you write the unromantic?

Thanks for reading!

~Varun