Word Count

Writers Talk About Writing

10 Ways to Make Your Writing More Fun

Do you ever find writing is just plain tedious? Have you lost the joy of the endeavor? Does writing suddenly seem more like accounting than something delightful? I received an email recently from someone who told me he'd lost interest in technical writing, which had been his sole means of support for more than 25 years.

Immediately, I resolved to make a list of ways to make writing more fun again. Here are my 10 suggestions:

1) Give yourself some goals: Having goals not only improves your chance of success but it also makes work more fun. Why do you think they keep score in tennis and hockey? Competing is fun! Your goals don't have to look like mine, but they should be concrete and measurable. Resolve to write x number of words per day or for x number of minutes per day.

2) From time to time, make your goal super challenging — then work like hell to achieve it. For example, I am trying to write this article in 20 minutes (normally it takes me a minimum of 30 to 45 minutes to produce a first draft of this column.)*

3) Challenge yourself to work a specific (unrelated) word into a piece of writing. When I worked in the daily newspaper business, one of the reporters in my department always tried to use the word "hilarious" in every story. I invariably took it out — but I always admired his spunk! For him, it made writing more fun, which also made me very happy.

4) Give yourself plenty of rewards. Many people I know have a hard time with this one — but, really, isn't life more fun when you get rewarded for what you do? The rewards don't have to be expensive (a car or a Chanel suit) or fattening (chocolate brownies or a big piece of cheesecake) but they should be something that give you a little joy. What if you bought yourself a magazine you liked for every story you wrote? Or a latte? Or a... [decide what suits you.]

5) Learn and practice a relaxation technique. Writing can and should be fun but it can also be stressful. Be sure you know how to take a break. Learn how to meditate or do how to do some simple back and shoulder exercises and work these techniques into your regular writing day. I like to set a timer for 25 minutes and then I take a five-minute stretching break every time it beeps.

6) Give yourself some short bursts of physical activity throughout the day. Wander to your favorite coffee shop (or to your kitchen) to make yourself a cup of coffee. Go for a short walk during lunchtime. Stop reading this column right now and do five jumping jacks. If you have your own office, then throw your arms in the air and yell, "Go ____ [your name], go!" (You can whisper it if you work in an open office!)

7) Take whatever you're writing and put it in the opposite direction from what you'd originally intended. For example, if you're writing a piece on how save money for a mortgage, turn it into: Five Ways to Waste Your Money So You Can Never Buy That House.

8) Try to tell a story in your writing. Stories are inherently fun — especially if you're the one telling them. Have you ever noticed how the best conversationalists (and speech givers) always tell lots of stories. Try to do the same in your writing, even if your boss doesn't think it's necessary. Stories have a natural beginning, middle and end and for this reason they're easier and more fun to write.

9) Write with some music in the background. I can't bear listening to music with words while I write (this makes me want to sing along, which I find distracting) but I do enjoy quiet instrumental music from time to time. I tend to stick with Chopin, Sibelius or Mozart but choose whatever appeals most to you.

10) Limit your writing time. It's perverse how much we all ache to break rules but give yourself a rule that you can write for only 10 minutes and you'll soon discover how desperate you are to write for an hour. Increase your writing time gradually.

*I wrote this column in 21 minutes. One minute more than I wanted but it was fun trying!


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A former daily newspaper editor, Daphne Gray-Grant is a writing and editing coach and the author of 8½ Steps to Writing Faster, Better. She offers a free weekly newsletter on her website Publication Coach. Click here to read more articles by Daphne Gray-Grant.

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Comments from our users:

Wednesday May 11th 2011, 5:54 AM
Comment by: mare4short (Fresno, CA)
I'm new a the Comment game. Please delete the first vote, a "2". I made a mistake.

I found some extra and excellent advise that I've got to pay attention to. I tend to stay with it until it (My personal writings) until they are finished 'for now.' I'm going to get my timer going as of now! Thanks!
Wednesday May 11th 2011, 10:43 AM
Comment by: Creek
Great set of ideas. People have different personalities and therefore what refreshed and reinvigorates one might wear out another.

I can relate with item #9 music in the background. Pandora is an excellent source of endless music and the stations can be tailored to suit my mood.

By the way, I am a software designer/developer and you might be surprised how similar our professions are. I spend a significant amount of my day collaborating with business partners via emails and other forms of written communications.
Wednesday May 11th 2011, 10:58 AM
Comment by: Daphne Gray-Grant (Vancouver Canada)Visual Thesaurus Contributor
Mary, yes, be sure to use a timer. I have a little kitchen timer right beside my desk (although, of course, you can also use online ones.)
Wednesday May 11th 2011, 1:14 PM
Comment by: Robert R.
Lovely article. I truly enjoy writing but I am painfully slow at it. Try as I might to hit a time limit, I consistently end up being 50% over the mark.
Wednesday May 11th 2011, 6:19 PM
Comment by: Coralaine D.
Inspiration, #6 works for me. I have some exercise equipment for the winter and walk in good weather.
Wednesday May 11th 2011, 6:47 PM
Comment by: Greg Waddell (Southaven, MS)
I'm so glad I clicked that link to come and read this post. Came at the right moment. Thank you. I too have discovered the incredible benefit of good listening music in the background as I write. I suggest music that makes you feel but doesn't make you think. That way you don't have something clamoring for the attention of your brain. What works for me is any music in a language I don't understand. I particularly enjoy the French and Brazilian female singers. I also like electronic sounds like Amethystium and Bella Sonus.
Wednesday May 11th 2011, 9:20 PM
Comment by: Daphne Gray-Grant (Vancouver Canada)Visual Thesaurus Contributor
Robert, if you are writing too slowly, I suspect you are editing WHILE you are writing. This is like trying to clear the table before you finish eating dinner. Try writing with a towel hanging over your monitor so you cannot see while you write. (I'm serious!)

Thanks for the music recommendations, Greg! I know too much French for that to work for me, but I could always try Brazilian music! Will also check out Amethystium and Bella Sonus.
Thursday May 12th 2011, 6:49 PM
Comment by: Coralaine D.
Thanks Daphne, a simple solution. I have the editing while I write problem, and have tried many things.
When you put the towel over the monitor make sure your air vents aren't covered so it doesn't heat up. Now why didn't I think of this solution?
Friday May 13th 2011, 9:46 PM
Comment by: Fiona W. (Portland, OR)
Thanks Daphne!
Tuesday May 24th 2011, 11:03 PM
Comment by: Francisco P. (São Paulo Brazil)
I have the same problem of editing while I write. It drives me crazy but I just can't stop.

The towel thing won't work for me due to the fact that I type horribly, any other suggestions.

y the way another suggestion for Brazilian music is Caetano Veloso, I should know, I am Brazilian after all.

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