bad advice, part 4

Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.

— George Orwell

I know this quote falls right in like with the last one I picked apart. The idea is more or less the same, or at least very similar. Again we have an established author bemoaning the pain of writing.

Like I said last time, if you don’t enjoy the writing process, don’t do it. There’s no reason to sink so much time, effort and energy into something that’s basically a form of self-induced torture.

But this time I want to say something more. Go out of your way to make writing fun.

When I first started writing fiction, I felt like I needed to be JD Salinger or Hemingway or Iris Murdoch. These are some of my favorite writers. Why wouldn’t I want to emulate them?

So I started writing these pseudo-deep stories that (at best) poorly mimicked the style and density of much better authors. But the worst of it wasn’t the lack of quality. No, the worst part was the lack of authenticity.

Their angst isn’t my angst. Their issues aren’t my issues. Their stories aren’t my stories.

It took me years of writing fiction to figure out the undeniable value of telling the stories I truly wanted to tell. I had to stop aspiring to write the next Great American Novel, instead opting for whatever tale my mind spun, even if it was dark, twisted, fanciful or silly.

And lo and behold, my writing got better.

That was just one way I made writing more fun. There are others.

I listen to music I like to listen to. I drink a lot of coffee, not because I need a caffeine buzz, but because I fucking love coffee. I focus on character development more than plot because that’s what I like in stories. And I’ll drop a project, even part of a book, abandoning it to waste away in some forgotten folder on my hard drive the very minute it stops being interesting to me.

It’s on me to make writing fun. No one else. If I have to bend or break established rules to enjoy what I write, fine. I’d rather have fun.

I don’t just encourage you to do the same. I implore you to. Your fiction will be better, for one. But more importantly, you’ll feel a much greater level of fulfillment when you find ways to make writing something you look forward to rather than something you dread.

One Comment

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *