Are We Having Fun Yet?
I received a letter from a writer who said that one of the great joys of his life was creating ideas and playing around with characters in fantastic worlds. But when he decided to try transferring these thoughts into stories, the joy disappeared. The struggle to pin down ideas and images into words and sentences was simply not any fun.
He was wondering if he was the only one with this problem. Does he simply need more practice? Should he just write, even if it’s not fun?
I thought this was a great question and I want you all to answer, but first (of course) I’ll offer my two cents.
I heard an interview with Nicholas Sparks that seems relevant. He might not be everyone’s favorite author but he’s successful and prolific, so I think he’s worth listening to. I was surprised that when the interviewer asked him if he enjoys writing, he said “No.” He said it’s difficult work and it’s not fun while he’s doing it. When he goes in his office and closes the door, he has the mindset of “going to work” and doesn’t think of it as enjoyable.
I’m sure, like many successful authors before him, that he enjoys having written even if he doesn’t enjoy the process of writing. He likes the results—as do most writers.
Personally, I don’t enjoy the process of writing, but I do enjoy the results of what I write. However, I know many of my clients, fiction authors especially, love their writing time. For them, that creative flow is energizing. They love being in their made-up worlds and hanging out with their fictional characters, and find it enjoyable.
The conundrum most novelists face is that there’s a big difference between imagining those worlds within the freedom of your own mind, and wrangling them to fit into the severely limiting structure of written language. It’s hard work.
Coming to this realization can be a defining moment. You’re going to eventually figure out, once and for all, if you’re committed to writing a novel or not. If you decide you really want to go for it, then you’ll be ready to accept and deal with the truth that writing a novel is hard. You’ll be able to commit to the work, hoping eventually there’ll be a payoff meaning that you’ll enjoy the results of your labor. That doesn’t necessarily mean being published, but simply enjoying your story on the page, and enjoying the feeling of accomplishment.
If you get to a point where the writing feels more difficult than fun, I think you should give it some more time, accepting that writing is hard work rather than being surprised by it or fighting against it. Listen to your gut and see where it leads you. After six months or so, you’ll probably know whether the novelist life is for you or not.
So, readers, what do you think? Is writing fun? Is it supposed to be?
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© 2011 Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent