When life gets hectic, it can be hard to trust the process…
a cozy cup of winter coffee.

At half-six in the morning, the skies are still scattered with stars. Winter approaches, pushing back the sunrise. I wake up in the dark and go to light the candles on my desk, summoning tiny flickers of warmth to keep the night at bay. This has been one of my rituals for writing through the chaos of this year: making sure that I put down words while I wait for the sunrise, dreaming up sentences through the dawn.

We often talk about writing discipline, about showing up to the page and committing to your words. But having spent almost an entire year head down in extensive revisions and rewrites, I’ll admit that it’s been hard to keep the faith. And to be perfectly honest, beyond the writing, this year has been brutal. It has involved months of illness, numerous family issues, an international move, and both the stress and euphoria of getting married to the love of my life. Very little of it has been anything that could be considered calm.

So as much as I can, I get up at sunrise, and I write. More than the discipline of getting up on time, more than the structure that it gives me — to get started on what’s important before the day even begins — the most significant thing I get out of lighting these candles and writing by their glow is the smallest, most delicate spark of the only feeling that makes it all worth it:


Rediscovering Joy in Writing

Swept up into the hustle of drafting, editing, and publishing — trying to find an agent or figuring out how to market ourselves as authors — doing the work can sometimes sap joy from the process itself. Too often this year, I found myself overwhelmed, burnt out, facing the page with dread rather than excitement. I had a draft I needed to finish and a book I needed to rewrite, a bushel of short stories I needed to send out and a business I needed to run, and of course, there were all the ideas I needed to clarify and pitch—

I realised, as the rest of life crashed down on me again and again, month after month, that what I needed, more than anything else, was a moment to breathe.

Sometimes all it takes is a bit of reflection. That’s what it was for me: a single quiet morning, when I couldn’t get back to sleep. Instead, I got out of bed, and lit the candles, and wrote my morning pages in a journal instead of my usual laptop. This was how I’d used to do my pages in more innocent days, back when I was still studying. And for that hour or so, writing in the dark, before anything else needed to be thought of — the process felt, suddenly, joyful again.

So here’s my challenge, if you, like me, have been struggling to maintain joy in your creative life. Take half an hour or so out of your day — it can be before sunrise, or after everyone else has gone to bed. During your lunch break works too. But take some uninterrupted time to reflect on what’s been happening for you when you write. Try to remember your early days, when you were first discovering the magic of words. What’s changed? What’s still working? And are there any recent moments in your creative life that have made you feel truly joyful?

Whatever you discover about yourself and your creativity, hold on to it. Some of it may be uncomfortable. But hopefully, this is just the first step to help bring back a bit of the magic of joy.

Other Updates

Current TBRs: Anatomy, A Love Story by Dana Schwartz | A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers | Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

Current WIPs: A Lullaby of Stolen Stars (YA Fantasy Novel) | In Generations (Cli-Fi Experimental Short) | Diagnosing the Body (Short Memoir) | A Murder of Crows (YA Gothic Fantasy Novel posting online)

Work Update: If you’re in search for a developmental editor to help you shape your story in the new year, get in touch ASAP!

Bonus Quest (250xp)

How do you bring joy into your writing process?

If you took time to reflect on your answers to the questions above — or if you’ve got this joy and motivation thing down to a science — I’d love for you to share something that helps you when the creative life gets tough. Leave a reply in the comments.

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