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Where's the joy?

Another Monday. Ho Hum. Not enough coffee in the universe. Same day, different week. What thoughts start your morning? It’s easy to get caught in the routine of day-to-day-to-day, when deep down we’d all like something … more. Some kind of spark. Maybe even a little joy?

These thoughts are a perfect segue into the monthly focus and a newsletter received today.  A strong statement considering my efforts to stay away from the "P" word. As you might be able to tell, March’s focus is joy. Feeling joy. Finding joy. Keeping joy. Such a simple word covering much territory. One that can make a difference in our everyday—if we let it.

The story shared in the newsletter described a young actress who worked at her craft with fierce intensity. She studied her scripts, slaved over her character’s goals/motivations/conflicts, and memorized her marks with determination. Way to go after her dreams, right?

Except, during a recent rehearsal the director called a halt to the scene, and asked her to come to the edge of the stage. She was mortified. What was she doing wrong? His question was simple. Where was her joy?

Technically she had everything down. No question there. But somewhere in all of this preparation she forgot to let herself feel the joy; the spark that brought her to the stage in the first place. And if she didn’t feel the joy, then her audience wouldn’t either.

Many of us start our writing career filled with enthusiasm. We can’t wait to share our stories with friends and fans alike. Our joy bubbles over in everything we do. But it’s easy to lose this spark behind the pressures of production.

We sweat over our manuscripts, fret over our character’s GMC, and dissect Three Act Structure and The Hero’s Journey until we could scream. Suddenly we are faced with deadlines, well-meaning advice from every corner, lackluster reviews, and a looming spiral of paralyzing self-doubt. There are one hundred and one different details that make up our writing life, but when was the last time we stopped and checked in with our joy?

Because if we don’t feel it, neither will our readers.

This current WIP is taking longer than expected with more than few personal hiccups getting in the way. But even at my most frustrated I’m excited for the chance to sit down and do the work. So let me ask—Writers, what do you do to keep your spark, your joy in writing alive when faced with the slow grind of day-to-day? And Readers, I want to know. Can you tell when your favorite author is tuned in?