Wednesday, July 9, 2014

You're Supposed To Be Enjoying Yourself

Are you having fun? The author Joe Konrath came up with an idea some time ago called the "Eight Hour E-Book". It pretty much does what it says on the label. It's a challenge for authors to write, edit, format and publish an e-book in eight hours. Many of the readers on his blog did exactly that and in the space of one or two days, the kindle store had an influx of simple, often crude, often humerous and generally low quality e-books that authors had made in eight hours. He did this for a couple of reasons. Konrath wanted to make a point about the nature of the e-book market and his point was valid and worth exploring but it is also a topic for another time. The second reason he did this was because a lot of authors and aspiring authors follow his blog and he wanted to remind everybody that they should be having fun when they write. And that's a point that can't be stressed enough. I was going to talk about fan fiction today, but I'll do that next time. Today I want to make the same point that Konrath made with his Eight Hour E-Book Challenge. That point is: Writing should be fun. I swear, lately I feel like I've died and been damned to the hell of eternal editing. Don't get me wrong, I like editing as much as the next guy and I think editing is important, but by the twelfth time you're rewritten the same chapter, it's lost a lot of the artistic romance. If you ever get to this point, it's probably time you did something to rekindle that fire of passion that got you started. Write something just for fun. Writing should be fun. If you're not doing this for fun, why are you doing it? If you're like me, you've had your eyes on the prize for a long time. You want to be a professional author. You want to create work of quality. You want other people to read your work and you want them to enjoy said work. But hold on, let's go back to the beginning. Why did you start writing? Why did you decide that this is what you want to do? One day I'll give you the full story of how I started writing but for now, the short version of my story is probably the short version of your story. You started on this path of the literary artiste because you were having fun with words and telling stories. At least, I certainly hope that's why you got started. If not, then I'm afraid I've got some bad news. Creative writing is not the path to fame, glory, wealth and women. Actually, it might get you women, but not the fame, wealth and glory part. Writing is not the best way to leave your mark on history. Odds are, even if you're successful enough to be a full time professional writer, you still won't live a life of fame, riches, glory and women. Okay, there's still a good chance for women, but that's all. So if nothing else, you want to be having fun, right? Now, you probably don't need me to say "Hey, have fun!" because everybody likes fun and fun is reason enough to have fun. But there is another reason to keep having fun when you write. Your readers know if you were enjoying it. You've probably read something, where you reached a point and it became crystal clear to you that the author had stopped caring. When the author doesn't enjoy writing, the audience doesn't enjoy reading it. There's no life, no care, no interest in its creation and that is apparent on the other side of the process. Your writing will be better if you are having fun writing it. Reading should be enjoyable but their enjoyment begins with you enjoying the creative process! So have fun. If you don't feel like you're having fun, then you're doing something wrong. Fix that. Stop what you're doing and find the fun. It could be that you've spent far too long in editing and you need to do something new. Maybe you need to do something silly and frivolous. Maybe back of the emotional character drama and work on something you wouldn't normally do. Something like, oh, say, I don't know, a My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fan fiction. You never know what could happen. Then, when you've reminded yourself how much fun writing is, go back and keep working on the other stuff. Or do an Eight Hour E-Book. Whatever it is you need to do, do it. Find the fun. Writing should be fun. So go have some fun.

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