Challenge Journal #1: I’ve Made Writing a Chore

I’m going to confess something that feels really wrong to say as a writer: I haven’t been enjoying writing lately.

I’ve never really been one to write outside of school assignments, but I’ve always relished the chance to take an assignment and use it to develop my writing skills. Lately, I haven’t even wanted to do that; I find myself procrastinating on even the smallest assignment, avoiding the mental stretch I know it will bring on.

Last semester, I took a 400-level English class on immersion journalism, and it was easily the most difficult writing I’ve ever had to do. I’m a writer, but I’m most definitely not a journalist. The semester started off with the slightly more familiar immersion memoir, but as we got into writing our big, full-on immersion journalism piece I found myself flagging. I needed to be interviewing people, researching, and writing about what I had observed. In an abstract sense, I did want to produce something good, but I just didn’t seem to have it within me to put forth the immense amount of effort required to write a piece of journalism that is thoroughly, thoughtfully researched and that keeps a thread of the author’s thoughts visible throughout.

Granted, I’m pretty confident that this was my first and last stint on the journalism front; I’m comfortable with my chosen field of animation. But the struggles I had with this paper last semester did worry me. Maybe it was because I’m not suited for journalism. Maybe it was a bout of senioritis. Maybe it has to do with my strict, joyless rituals I associate with writing.

I’m not yet sure entirely how to solve this problem, but I think the first step is my ritual. It struck me for our first assignment that we were to think of a ritual we would enjoy, because I’ve always thought of a ritual as a means to an end, or a way to accomplish goals that need to be finished. It’s never even crossed my mind to design a goal with enjoyment in mind. So with that in mind, I think I’ll start with reorienting my thinking towards writing, and maybe pausing to evaluate what’s happening when I find myself dreading writing.

7 thoughts to “Challenge Journal #1: I’ve Made Writing a Chore”

  1. Hey Anna–I resonate so much with the sentiment of not enjoying writing all the time! It’s so easy to get caught up in what we need to do and get bogged down by those persistent nagging feelings. In my own experience, realizing that I feel burned out or tired with what I’m doing usually means that I need a break from it. Could part of your writing ritual be putting down a pen and stepping away from it?

  2. Hi Anna! I’m so excited to be back in class with you and see what cool things you produce!
    I have had similar feelings towards writing within the past few years so you are not alone. The pressure of academic writing and deadlines can take the excitement out of something that gave me pleasure just a short time ago. Through the gateway, and hopefully capstone, I was able to find myself as a writer yet again. My question to your problem about losing your writing mojo (so to speak) is what steps do you plan on taking to find the creativity and enjoyment once again? Can you start by adding it to something you already enjoy like the animation? I know you created an animation piece for the gateway, maybe start by imagining a great script that can stimulate your excitement towards writing.

  3. Anna — I feel the same way. For academic purposes, we are reading and writing all the time. At the end of the day, I feel like all of my writing efforts go towards essays and papers that will eventually be graded. We are so accustomed to writing for others, or for a grade, that the joy of writing has been stripped from us. I think a way to combat this is to have a journal to write down thoughts in. It is important to keep in mind that writing doesn’t have to be lengthy, or emotionally draining, or in a journalistic format, or anything. Bringing back the innocence of writing, or the fun of it can help us re-fall in love with the process. I’ve just begun this journey of journaling, and even that can feel like a chore. However, when I go back and read a random thought I wrote a month ago, I’m so happy I have it to look at, otherwise it would have been forgotten. Could journaling be a ritual for you?

  4. Yes yes and YES! I think staleness is often a part of a natural progression of growth (especially after a class like your journalism one). I remember when I was feeling stale and gross and unmotivated in my acting, I stopped myself and looked for the JOY. Yes, it is hard to do this while you are meeting deadlines and working on pitches, but I found that it was exactly what I needed to grow and move past that small moment.

    As far as writing goes, I am in the same boat… let me know if you have any break throughs because I am in need of inspiration!

    Best,
    Allie

  5. Anna, I understand your concerns and they are so valid!! However, on the bright side, I must say that you discovered something that you don’t like or don’t enjoy, which in my opinion, is very important to know as well. I love the fact that you took a chance at something last semester, and even though it sucked, you learned that you do not like it and doesn’t meet your interests! Alternatively, I love the fact that you are so comfortable in animation and feel that you belong there. As far as writing goes, it’s okay to not be interested to write! Often times, I find myself hard to even believe that I am a writer and cannot do any writing. I often feel that I DO NOT know how to write, and how did I even get all my coursework done? Like where did those ideas even come from?! Giving yourself some time, and cutting some slack is important. I hope to knowing you more this semester and sharing some strategies that can motivate both of us to write! 🙂

  6. Hey Anna, Wow. I feel this. There is many times that I’ve had to do writing projects for class that make me go “no.” To be honest, most of these definitely are academic writing such as my research projects. Senioritis is kicking both of us hard and I think it’s important that we both learn how to fight through it and find enjoyment in our projects. I think maybe, as roommates, we should check in and see if we’ve been doing our rituals or what we think about our processes? I really hope that our courses this semester will help us to be joyful and not feel the dread of the impending timelines and due dates. It’s nice to have you in this class and on this journey with me!

  7. Hey Anna!

    I can totally relate, I have found that reading and writing has become a chore for me, especially when I am in the middle of the semester, swamped with finals, and a busy schedule. I wonder if your journalism class made you realize this issue even more (although it could just be that you don’t like journalism!). It may be okay to take a break and write more when your mind is clear- I also like to answer some creative writing prompts out of a book I have, it really helps me write in a fun way as opposed to what we may have to do for class.

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