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Friday, April 4, 2014

Remember When Writing Was Fun?

Let's face it. There's so many pressures now when it comes to the writing proposition. A writer twenty years ago: a writer. A writer today: a writer, an editor, a marketer, an online technology expert... Through it all, the thing that's easiest to get lost in the shuffle is that you started out writing because it was fun!

It's tough making it in today's hyper-competitive market for books. Yeah, if you don't get accepted in mainstream publishing, at least you have ebooks to fall back on. But, in some ways, is that really such a wonderful fallback? It reminds me of a scene in the Mel Gibson movie "Mad Max," where a guy is handcuffed to a car that's about to explode. Max has a hacksaw, and he drops it at the guy's feet, explaining (before he walks off) that it'll take a long time to saw through the handcuffs, but he should be able to cut off his limb in plenty of time.

Oh, thanks for the lovely alternative.

Okay, so writing ebooks isn't that bad (some of you are probably saying, 'Yes it is!'), but it is hard. Somebody once described publishing an ebook as being analogous to dropping a stone into a well. And that's what it's like: no matter how good your book is if people aren't aware of it, they aren't going to buy it. So suddenly you're a marketer (working that hacksaw on your wrist before the car explodes {you run out of money}), and you're doing anything to make this writing thing happen.

But it's still not happening—and that car is going to explode.

So you do things you wouldn't normally do. You press. You maybe write to market. You have absolutely no inclination to write it, but zombies and (fill-in-the-blank) are hot. And you could write a zombie thriller, right?

So you do. And to your surprise that doesn't sell either!

So now what? You try something else. And that doesn't work and so you try something else and that doesn't work and so...

You get the idea. And the idea is—if you've gotten to the point I've just described, only one thing is sure—you are not having fun writing anymore.

And that, my friend, is not what writing is supposed to be all about. Nobody said writing was easy, but it is supposed to be fun.

So how do you get back to writing being fun? You get back to it. You don't need Dr. Phil or me or anybody else to tell you how to do it. You just do it. Write what you want. Enjoy what you write. Me personally, I started writing some flash fiction (a thousand words or less) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flash_fiction). And if you want, you can check out some of the zillions of magazines that accept flash fiction (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=59234 especially be sure to check out "The (submissions) Grinder," a great database of online magazines that accept flash fiction and a submission tracker).

Flash fiction takes no time to write, and if you get published, your story is working like an ad for your other work. How's that for a novel concept?

Writing is a blast. That's why you pursued it in the first place. It can be a blast again. But you've got to consciously make the decision to have it be so.

And if you write what you enjoy, it may not sell either, but at least you will have pleasure in doing the writing, and you know the old saying, 'If the writer isn't having any fun writing it, the reader isn't having any fun reading it.'

So have fun writing! It'll be good for your mind, your emotions, your soul—and I bet you it'll be good for your pocketbook too!

4 comments:

  1. I recently started writing something just for fun. After a month of no writing, it was nice to be reminded of the fun. I definitely was starting to forget that.

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  2. Writing is other action that got affected by the technology.
    Some things we learned about writing and publishing in college
    years ago, are obsolete with the modern technology.

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  3. Fantastic post. The dilemma between writing what you love and putting food on the table is always going to be a struggle for artists. I think the awful part is that as the writer tries to right what sells they lose the qualities that make them want to write. A similar situation happened to me about the seven months ago. I started trying to write to market and found myself doing exactly what you’ve described, hating it. Putting down three hundred words was hard, because my conscience kept hinting this wasn’t right.

    At least with self-publishing we have the opportunity to find a niche. I think that’s what new writers need to work on. Finding readers that like what they have to offer.

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  4. Thanks E.M. I agree. For me writing to market is soul destroying. On the flip side of the coin writing what you want is edifying, a vehicle for self discovery and growth.

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