Thursday, February 18, 2010

Let Your Enthusiasm Show; or Play That Air Guitar!

Watching the Olympics tonight, I saw snowboarder Shaun White take the podium for the gold medal in half-pipe. I know there are stuffy, old-fashioned sorts who would have preferred that he stand respectfully while the national anthem was played, but Mr. White chose instead to play along on the air guitar for a few seconds. I was charmed. He wasn't afraid to let his enthusiasm show.

When you love what you're doing, it's really hard not to let it show.

One of my favorite recordings is of Gene Kelly, "Singin' In The Rain". The song is okay. Mr. Kelly's voice is fine, but not extraordinary. What makes this recording special to me is that you can hear him smiling as he sings. Here, have a listen and you'll see (or rather, hear?) what I mean.

When I'm enthusiastic about what I'm writing, I think it shows, too. Phrases fall neatly into place; words flow effortlessly from my fingers onto the keyboard. Writing is tight, clean, energetic. The characters and settings sparkle. The action doesn't just flow, it dances.

And when I'm not enthusiastic ... it's more like wading through wet cement. Wearing lead weights chained to my ankles.

Now all I need to figure out is how to maintain the enthusiasm. I know that part of the secret is that if I'm not enthusiastic about the section I'm writing, it's usually because I'm either starting the scene in the wrong place, or I'm writing a scene that doesn't need to be included at all.

What are some tricks other people use to maintain enthusiasm for their writing?