How to Break Up With a Dysfunctional Writing Relationship (In Three Easy Steps)

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Struggling with Your Writing? Here’s How to Reignite the Spark

If you’re finding it tough to enjoy the writing process, these strategies might help you change your perspective and rekindle your love for writing.

Writing can be complicated. There are expectations, mental hurdles, judgments, and endless hopes. For years, I didn’t question the complexity of my relationship with writing. I just accepted it as it was. But the more I clung to my preconceived notions about writing, the more frustrating and unproductive it became.

After years of feeling stuck and invisible, I realized I couldn’t ignore my true passion anymore. I had to reclaim my love for writing and finally finish my elusive book. But first, I needed to break up with my dysfunctional writing habits.

My Relationship with Writing

Initially, my writing process involved sitting in front of a computer, staring at a blinking cursor, and battling a head full of “shoulds”:

  • I should write ten pages.
  • I should write every day at 7 AM.
  • I should be intellectual, humorous, poignant, brilliant.

Then came the judgment:

  • This sucks.
  • It makes no sense.
  • No one will read this.
  • Jones from 11th-grade English was right—I’ll never be able to fix dangling participles.

Desperate for a different outcome, I knew I had to change my approach. I believed that writing still loved me, and despite the drama, I loved it too. But how could we renegotiate our relationship? Could we see each other with fresh eyes?

Breaking Up in Three Steps

1. Turn Expectations into Invitations

Expectations and “shoulds” had to go! There was no way to thrive in a supportive writing relationship under such unrealistic, harsh demands. Inspiration isn’t a condition to be met. I replaced “expectations” with “invitations.”

With this fundamental shift, everything changed. With an “invitation,” I could choose to write or not write. I could tackle a challenging topic or not. Believing I had the option to invite myself to write, not as a demand, I became more eager to do so. I looked forward to my writing sessions.

2. Believe in Yourself as a Writer

Next, I realized that setting aside my genuine ideas to please others had to stop. It’s time to declare your voice. Recognize that your unique way with words is a gift. See yourself as a writer in this relationship. Remember, as a writer, you have value. You have every right to share your dreams with the world.

3. Write for Writing’s Sake

The belief that writing had to “do something” had to go! Writing is more than just function. Once I questioned the dysfunctional aspects of my writing relationship, I saw that I’d been conditioned to think that writing needed to serve a purpose. It had to be “productive,” or it wasn’t worth it.

This disheartening belief kept me distant from my words and my desire to dream. Why write a poetry book if it doesn’t achieve something? Why write short stories if they don’t sell or educate? I lost count of the times I pushed away creative inspiration because it didn’t seem “useful.” There’s no room to grow in a writing relationship with such limitations.

Kick ‘em to the Curb

Kick expectations and “shoulds” to the curb. Invite yourself to write. You’ll find more joy in the process when it feels like a choice rather than an obligation.

Next, kick writing-to-please-others to the curb. Write from your heart about things you care about. It’s better to be true to yourself than to conform to others’ expectations.

Finally, kick the notion that writing must serve a functional purpose to the curb. You might be the next great poet, short story author, or the creator of an incredible children’s book. It’s hard to see the beauty of inspiration when you’re only looking for practicality.

Old habits in a dysfunctional writing relationship can be broken. You can be valued, loved, and part of an exciting new partnership where your words and worth thrive!

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