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Do you forget to have fun?

In the last few weeks, I’ve read at least a dozen social media posts by disheartened writers. Some were traditionally published authors with more than one novel out in the world, others were still struggling to sell their first short story.

They all had one thing in common: They’d had enough (several even went so far as to announce they would quit writing).

It made me sad. Then I got to wondering why anyone would give up on their dream?

I can’t know for sure, but I suspect the answer is simple: Somewhere along the line, these folks stopped having fun.

Writers encounter an awful lot of disappointment before (and after) they get published. That first acceptance letter is like finding one of Willy Wonka’s golden tickets in your chocolate bar. Past rejections, negative critiques are forgotten in an instant. When someone asks what you do besides your day job, you no longer mumble something about ‘throwing the odd story together’, you hold your head high and proclaim, ‘I are a writer!’

Of course, the feeling doesn’t last. You still get rejection letters, and not everyone loves your work. Let's face it, with very few exceptions, writers never achieve global domination recognition. In fact, most of us consider ourselves lucky if we become household names in our own homes.

“Good grief,” I hear you say. “It’s a wonder you don’t all quit.”

On the face of it, you’d be right, but there’s another aspect to writing, something all writers benefit from. It’s fun to turn ideas into stories for other folks to read. It’s fun to invent imaginary people and bring them to life on the page. It’s fun to hang out with like-minded folks at conferences workshops and writing groups. It’s fun to see yourself improving at something you love doing.

The danger comes when we don’t do enough of the fun things, or we forget to enjoy them. When we focus on the negatives, it’s easy to become discouraged. That’s why whenever I give a solo talk, I always finish with this last piece of advice:

Figure out what works best for you, then do that…a lot. And don’t forget to have fun!

How about you?

Do you forget to have fun?

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( 39 comments — Leave a comment )
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Apr. 2nd, 2012 01:25 pm (UTC)
Yes. I forgot to have fun for a long while, when I was busy trying to write to other people's rules. That's over. I'm having fun and loving writing again.
Apr. 2nd, 2012 01:26 pm (UTC)
Good for you, Janice :)
Apr. 2nd, 2012 01:51 pm (UTC)
I've absolutely considered quitting at times, but I haven't because I always realize that I love writing, the writing process, the chance to play pretend, and yes, meeting other writers who have things in common, that we love to share.

Usually when I want to quit, it's because I think life would be easier if I weren't constantly frustrated at NOT being able to write, not having time, resenting chores and work and family because they interfere with writing time. Or when that thrill of acceptance turns into ... "hmm, ah well," when the piece is published.

That end result of being published, I think, isn't what I (and many writers) really love. It's a goal, for me, because it means the piece is finally finished, but the best part ,,, is the storytelling, the creation!
Apr. 2nd, 2012 05:01 pm (UTC)
'...I think life would be easier if I weren't constantly frustrated at NOT being able to write'

Speaking for myself, I refuse to let that stop me ;)
(no subject) - clarionj - Apr. 3rd, 2012 04:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - Apr. 2nd, 2012 10:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - clarionj - Apr. 3rd, 2012 04:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 2nd, 2012 02:17 pm (UTC)
Of course it's fun, but sometimes it can conflict with even more fundamental things like feeding the family or paying your medical expenses. Sometimes your dream changes to "I want another round of chemo", or "I want my kid to have the opportunity to go to college".
Apr. 2nd, 2012 05:02 pm (UTC)
Sorry, Peadar. I'm not sure I understand your point.
(no subject) - peadarog - Apr. 2nd, 2012 06:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Apr. 2nd, 2012 06:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - peadarog - Apr. 3rd, 2012 08:28 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 2nd, 2012 03:39 pm (UTC)
We are of like minds, my friend.
Apr. 2nd, 2012 05:03 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Terri :)
Apr. 2nd, 2012 04:12 pm (UTC)
Jon, this has to be the best post you've ever written (although I do question the wisdom of trying to keep other people from quitting - supply and demand being what it is...). I couldn't agree more. Writing (like everything else in life) should be rewarding in and of itself. Rejections will still sting, but who cares: I'll just send it back out and write another.

People who write solely for other reasons are probably not goin g to enjoy it - even if they are successful.
Apr. 2nd, 2012 05:04 pm (UTC)
That's not to say I don't want a huge international backlist and a gazillion dollar movie deal or two ;)

Edited at 2012-04-02 08:23 pm (UTC)
Apr. 2nd, 2012 06:27 pm (UTC)
Great point. There are much easier ways to make money, so you might as well concentrate on the satisfying aspects of writing.
Apr. 2nd, 2012 06:55 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Dorothy :)
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 2nd, 2012 08:23 pm (UTC)
'You are right...'

It had to happen sooner or later ;)
Apr. 2nd, 2012 10:07 pm (UTC)
Having fun is important. That's actually one of the reasons I'm writing a fun story right now. I'll publish it through my own imprint but I'm not aiming for major publication with it. Thing is, it's making my other projects older fresh and new because I have something totally different to play with.

I loved going to the convention last weekend and I'll go to more. Hanging out with fellow authors is great fun.

Having fun is important, because if you don't enjoy writing, what's the point? It's much easier to make a living the old fashioned way, so why torture yourself.
Apr. 3rd, 2012 01:23 am (UTC)
Why indeed, though I suspect for some folks, it's easier said than done :)
(no subject) - phoenixfirewolf - Apr. 3rd, 2012 01:24 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 2nd, 2012 10:31 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, absolutely. It has to be fun. You have to be able to enjoy spinning your tale.

On days when I can't write, I can still tell stories in my head. There's always that. On days when I get to write, even better.
Apr. 3rd, 2012 01:24 am (UTC)
Apr. 3rd, 2012 12:21 am (UTC)
Writing is fun. It is like life, hard work sometimes but infinitely preferable to the alternative. If I didn't write how would I get any peace from the voices?
Apr. 3rd, 2012 01:25 am (UTC)
'Writing is fun. It is like life, hard work sometimes but infinitely preferable to the alternative.'

Excellent! :)
Mieke Zamora-Mackay
Apr. 3rd, 2012 02:34 am (UTC)
This was a lovely post, Jon. Thank you. I'm trying to have as much fun as I can while I pursue this endeavor. It would be such a waste otherwise.
Apr. 3rd, 2012 08:19 am (UTC)
Indeed it would. Thank you, Mieke :)
Regina Sclafford
Apr. 3rd, 2012 02:58 am (UTC)
forget to have fun?
i always forget to have fun simply because i wasn't able to have fun when i was younger. so i'm always serious all the time. it irritates me when people who are adults are supposed to be serious but are having fun. it's like, "You are 62 what are you doing having fun? you are supposed to be serious"
Apr. 3rd, 2012 08:18 am (UTC)
Re: forget to have fun?
I'm serious when the situation calls for it, but I prefer to have fun.

Luckily, when it comes to writing, I can usually be serious AND have fun at the same time :)
Re: forget to have fun? - snapes_angel - Apr. 3rd, 2012 05:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 3rd, 2012 09:18 am (UTC)
Fun? Fun?!? We're supposed to be bleeding on the pages and then dry our eyes with them.

Oh, wait, that's poets. Nevermind.
Apr. 3rd, 2012 10:19 am (UTC)
Lol :)
Apr. 3rd, 2012 01:40 pm (UTC)
Wise words!
Apr. 3rd, 2012 05:36 pm (UTC)

What is this "fun" of which you speak?

Let's see if it works. ;3
Apr. 3rd, 2012 09:41 pm (UTC)
Lol, it's all around. You just have to look for it :P
(no subject) - snapes_angel - Apr. 3rd, 2012 10:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
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( 39 comments — Leave a comment )

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