We set out to write for a lot of reasons– to express a fleeting sensation, express an important message, discover clarity in our own lives, or to impact the lives of others. We seek to entertain, provoke thought, spin a tale, create emotion, and share our knowledge. But underlying all of these reasons is a simpler one: It’s enjoyable.
For years, I functioned under the delusion that if magnificent prose wasn’t flowing from my brain onto paper like a divine water faucet, I simply wasn’t good at it. Ease became muddled up with enjoyment because if something feels challenging, it’s distinctly less fun. I think we can all agree that forcing out a few words into a sentence that ends up reading: “It was dark outside that night” does not bode well for enjoyment.
Some very Important Things About Fun
• You are a beautiful human being with high expectations. You are skilled at writing, and that skill is not tainted by the fact you’re not enjoying the process at present. You have things to say, and the importance of those things are not diminished by your inability to say them right now.
• “Enjoyment” while writing, much like a hard workout, doesn’t mean wearing a slapstick grin at all times. It simply means that you’re in the zone– unafraid, invested, committed to the journey, and curious about where this is all going. It means making yourself laugh or sending shivers down your own spine, even provoking a few tears.
• It’s important that writing is fun. Writing can be challenging, and the challenge never goes away. However, if you keep forcing yourself to “fight through” or ignore the bad feelings that make it no fun at all, you will eventually just stop writing, or you’ll write something you don’t like, which wastes a lot of time and energy.
• The best writing comes from deep enjoyment. I don’t care if you’re writing a horror novel or your business website– when you are enjoying yourself, your writing becomes loose and courageous, flows better, and sounds more like you. With enjoyment comes a lack of fear that infuses your writing with that magic spark.
How to Bring Back the Fun
These are the three reasons I get too serious: One, I am working on a specific project and I’ve hit a wall, and damn, I just want to get it done. Two, my expectations for myself are so high that they are impossible but I’m trying to fulfill them anyways. Three, I am stuck in my own little writing bubble consisting of me and my project, and so the only thoughts ringing around in my head are mine. With these in mind, here are some ways to BRING BACK THE FUN!
Work on something different. Drop your project that’s going nowhere and only causing you despair and write something you want to write for a change of pace. In moments where I’m stuck on a project, I find it useful to journal because it means I’m writing something no one will ever see, and it helps me work through the mental swamp I’ve landed in.
Write something fairly ridiculous. By “something fairly ridiculous”, I mean write something you wouldn’t normally write. Describe a moment in your childhood from the perspective of your childhood self. Write a short romantic fiction piece that ends up dripping with your natural sarcasm. Go on a bit of an adventure. No one needs to see it. I find it helps me break down that brick-like perfectionism that makes my writing stilted and unnatural at times. *Warning: You may end up writing something surprisingly fantastic.
Write alongside someone else. I have a writing friend named Aaron. The purpose of our meetings is not to give critical feedback, but to provoke more enjoyment, and therefore, more writing. What this has done for me is huge… I have released the notion that I must finish and perfect everything I’ve started, and it encourages me to send a somewhat finished something to Aaron on a regular basis. One time, Aaron said (in response to my lamenting that I had no more ideas): “Write something insane. Just go crazy.” So I did. I wrote a crazy prison break story that I love and I never would have written if he wasn’t waiting to receive it on the other end. If you really want to go the whole way, combine #2 and #3 to really see what you’re made of.
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