Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

Good morning, Writers!

Today, one hour after today’s Monday Motivation came out, I received 25 comments. Apparently, I hit a nerve.
Here’s the post:
This week, having sent a new manuscript to my agent, I had ONE GOAL. I wanted to be creative and have a bit of fun. I set out (with intention) to try something new.

Every day, when I sit down to write, I take out a stack of notecards. On each card is a writing quote. A bit of inspiration. With experimentation in mind, this is the card I got:

Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.
-Joseph Campbell

I couldn’t help but smile. This was what I needed! I needed to write for fun. For joy. To write without saying (even once): writing is hard. 

Yes, I know I’ve said that. A thousand times. (I’m actually trying to wean myself off of that.)

This was my challenge: For one week, writing was going to be enjoyable. Play. I wasn’t going to care if I failed. In fact: I KNEW I was going to fail. So what? t set out to write for no other reason than to please and challenge myself.

It was a great week!!!

First, I wrote an essay.

Then I wrote a terrible poem.

Then I wrote part of a talk I have to give.

Then, with a big smile on my face, I decided to write a picture book. (I haven’t had a picture book idea since I started writing novels, but I was determined.) Remember: I didn’t care if it was good or bad. I wasn’t sure I’d ever show it to anyone.

As I wrote, I reminded myself how lucky I was, and what a privilege it was to figure out a story. I thought about all the kids I met at the Univ of Illinois Literary festival (1100 in two days!!!!)–and all the stories I’d heard about.

And this is what I discovered:

I like writing! I was more productive, because I had lowered the stakes for my own success. I had fun every day that I wrote.

(And the pb isn’t half bad!!!)

Writing in a new genre ALSO made me think more about my voice and the themes that are important to me. Those themes are important to kids of all ages–and after a while, it wasn’t so hard to see that there was a story I could tell.

By giving myself a short term challenge, I felt refreshed and excited. I now feel ready to go back to the novel.

Are you ready to have a little fun? (This is what Monday Motivation is all about.)

For one week, don’t worry about doing what you are supposed to do. Don’t worry about success. Instead, give yourself a short term challenge–a new genre. Or a new tone.  Or write a poem. And another. And another. Think again like you did when you first started writing, when the process seemed exciting and mysterious. Play. Experiment. Don’t do what you think you’re good at.

Yes, there are days when writing is hard and frustrating and unfair. But there should also be lots of days when it should also be fun, and if not fun… exciting. A revelation. As Jane Yolen reminds us: JOY.  I’m just passing on HER message. It worked for me!

Have a great writing week!


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