Today’s post is a reflection on how creative writing needs to be fun, and why that matters.
Despite the self-doubt, despite the comparisons we always make between our work and the fabulous books we grew up reading, despite the stress of deadlines and writer’s block, at core, writing needs to be fun.
I really think this is a “hidden” reason why all authors have a different writing process. Sure, people talk about how each genre is different. How everyone has a different personality and writes for different reasons. They discuss how each writer’s style is different.
I’ve even written a post about how style influences your writing process.
It’s less common to hear someone say that everyone writes differently because we define “fun,” “enjoyment,” and “fulfillment” in different ways. But this is true.
I WRITE BECAUSE IT’S FUN.
That’s neither profound nor unusual, but it’s a basic and important fact.
Like all authors, I write fiction because writing fiction is fun for me. And I approach writing in a way that maximizes the “fun” factor amidst all the drudgery involved.
I don’t use outlines because I have never thought outlines are fun. I had to outline far, far too many research papers in my Master’s and Doctoral programs that I had no interest in writing to connect outlines with anything but busy work.
Outlining fiction on a regular basis would make me sick to my stomach. It would take me back to that “work” place that I write fiction to get away from.
Outlining fiction would also kill the greatest enjoyment I get from writing a first draft: the thrill of being surprised by my characters when they do something awesome, something I had no idea was coming.
If I outlined, I would know what was coming. That’s not nearly as much fun for me.
“FUN” MEANS SOMETHING DIFFERENT FOR EVERYONE.
“Fun” is a very subjective term.
I’m an introvert, and I notice that every time I go out with a group, I tend to fade into the background, keep relatively quiet, and soak in the environment. I’ll have a conversation with one or two people at a time and get to know them. That’s enjoyable to me.
Every time–EVERY time–some extrovert among my friends will come up and try to get me out on the dance floor, convinced that I’m not having fun. The dancing, the joking, the extravagant displays: that’s how extroverts define fun, and sometimes they don’t understand that you can have fun just sitting back, observing, and forging a personal connection with a small group.
Observing is a BLAST for me. A simple conversation with an acquaintance is fun to me. It feeds my writer’s soul. It gets me thinking about humanity and about life, about who we are and why we’re here.
Dancing, putting myself out there, making myself the center of attention: that’s the opposite of fun for me. My idea of fun is boredom for an extrovert. An extrovert’s idea of fun is terror for me.
HOW THIS AFFECTS WRITING
Sure, writers tend to be introvert-heavy as a group, but even among introverts, “fun” is a diverse concept and difficult to define.
It means something different to all of us, and that includes where writing is concerned.
Writing fiction involves so many things:
- Crafting a story, which might even involve world-building
- Problem solving and puzzle solving: these are huge factors in crafting a story
- Adventures: the joys of figuring out what’s going on with your characters, of discovering an unexpected connection between characters or events in your plot
- Playing with language and being experimental with words
- Creating and getting to know your characters: giving them histories, dreams, futures
- Living vicariously through your characters
Every writer will enjoy these different aspects to different degrees. Every writer, subconsciously, writes to maximize the impact of his or her favorite things about writing.
We emphasize in our individual writing processes what about writing is “fun” for us. And that’s a huge factor in determining how we write, in explaining why we all write in a different way.
So, what do you think about this? What are your favorite things about writing? How do you emphasize those things in your approach? Please weigh in below if you feel so inclined. What a cool conversation to get going!
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Also, I’d invite you to take advantage of an introductory sale for my writer’s handbook, “Writing for You: A Novelist’s Guide to the Craft of Fiction.” It released 7/31, and the ebook version is available from amazon for only $2.99 through 8/6.