On Loving the Work

Three days ago I sent a manuscript to my critique partners. This is a novel that’s been in the works for just over 2 years. The strangest part of this project?

I enjoyed every second.

I’ve only recently realized this is a strange thing for a writer to say. We love talking about how difficult and painful writing is. How much we dread sitting in front of the keyboard, slogging away, until the glorious achievement of finishing it.

What if every part could be the fun part?

Before I finished this long project, there were gaps where I didn’t write at all. Months where this story only existed as a few chapters full of blanks where names should be. Feverish 7,000 word writing days. Post-it assisted revisions. Through every phase, one thing was my guiding star — my relationship to the work.

What could you accomplish if you loved every part of the process? What if the initial idea, drafting, revising, getting feedback, diving back in, submitting…what if all of it was vibrant and interesting? 

It’s hard to sustain ourselves when we’re racing towards the finish line. We can’t just value the finished product. In fact, we might find that hard to do when we’ve burned so many emotional bridges during the writing process. So what’s the antidote?

It’s a dedicated practice of appreciating the work and yourself. It’s forming a healthy relationship to the project so that it becomes something you want to return to again and again.

Writing is difficult, but it shouldn’t hurt. We don’t have to dread every writing session. We don’t have to see the drafting process as something that’s getting in the way of the finished project. Looking back at all of the longer works I’ve finished, the one thing they have in common is how much I appreciated every scene and every writing session. Even if it was deleting work, applying revision notes, or completely scrapping an idea — it was all love.

Now that I’ve closed the book (pun intended) on that particular project for now, my overall feeling is that I miss that little world. And I am so excited for what’s next, because I know that even the early, messy stages will be such a journey of joy.

So — what are your big goals that you want to carry throughout this year? How are you going to nurture them throughout the day? 

These are the kinds of discussions we have in my small groups and classes. When I realized that this view of loving the work every day was actually a skill and practiced habit, I started teaching specific strategies for achieving this relationship to our writing.

I’m so grateful to find joy and connection not just in my writing practice, but in sharing and guiding other writers.

Thanks for sharing the love,

Published by Marcella Haddad

I write stories about silly people doing brave things, and I draw pictures of creatures that don't exist. I like traveling, nutella, dragons, and redwood trees.

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