Saturday, January 24, 2015
Is writing fun? I have a whole bunch of students in school who don’t think so. Sometimes I even read comments by authors that make me think they aren’t having much fun either. But this blog is about reasons why I think writing is fun for me. Maybe some of it will ring true to my fellow writers as well.
1) I get to use my imagination. This one is so obvious that I wrote it first. I can go places, be people, and do things I can’t in real life. I can get in a female character’s mind and understand her. How awesome is that? I can do miraculous things. I can say things I’d never get away with…and be as sarcastic as I want. I get to decide what happens. I get to have my own way (and still stay married). Would I like to build a world? Perform a miracle? Have a super power? Drive a great car? Live in a different era? I could live out a fantasy if I wanted, and I could find a solution to a problem. I could go on and on, and I get to do those things and more with my imagination. It makes writing fun.
2) I get to learn things. There are some writers producing works in very popular genres who actually write books without having to do research to learn about things related to their plot. I think it would take some of the fun out of writing if I didn’t have to learn so much to make my stories click. I’ve learned about brains and trains, the paranormal and parapsychology, history and time travel, geography and theology, animals and angels, law and medicine. I’m an English teacher, for heaven sakes, and I learn about grammar every time I write. I’ve written five books and each process has been different. I learn about writing every time I write. And what can I say about all that learning? It’s been exciting…interesting…inspiring…and yes, sometimes even enjoyable.
3) It’s rewarding work. When I coached and my team won or a player improved or a parent thanked me, it was well worth the effort. When I teach and get a note from a kid or I learn that a parent moved his or her child into my class or a student makes me laugh, it’s well worth the effort. I get some of those same rewards as an author. There are lots of feel good moments, making the work worthwhile. But the most rewarding thing about writing (besides a large royalty check) is finishing a book—the satisfaction of accomplishment. There’s a huge reward that comes with the achievement. And if it sells and readers give positive feedback, it’s even better. Nothing that’s worthwhile comes easy. And with work comes sweat and occasional disappointment and failure. To finish a book, however, makes it all worthwhile, and that’s pleasurable.
4) I get to share myself with others. Some people go through life without ever opening up. Believe me, writing opens writers up. Readers may not know they’re seeing me when they read, but incorporated into my stories are my experiences, passions, beliefs, anxieties, friends, failures, and sense of humor. You don’t know if that character is me or not or if that stupid thing he did is something stupid I did too (it probably is) or if that story that’s told is legit or greatly enhanced or if movies, books, authors, sports teams, foods, or songs I mention are because I happen to like them. You don’t know that for sure, but I do, and it’s exciting to be immortalized inside a book. Only authors can do that.
5) It’s cool to hide things in my books. There’s a small animal in each of my books. There’s a mini-grammar lesson in each book. There’s a reference to at least one favorite author or book character in each book. There’s at least one character in each book from pop culture whose name is made fun of and another or two whose name is simply…well, one that would make the nurses at the hospital shake their heads when the child was named. It’s entertaining being creative, knowing I put things in my books that are uniquely me.
6) I’ve written things that have made me cry. I’ve written things that’ve made me laugh. I’ve written things that have caused me to send it to friends or read to my family because I’m so happy about it. There are times when I’m stuck and in the middle of the most obscure activity, the solution pops into my head, and I can’t wait to get back to work. The emotions involved in a writer’s work can be a roller coaster, but who doesn’t like a roller coaster? Roller coasters are great, aren’t they? Writing gives me experiences that I’ll never forget. I’ll never forget waking up in the middle of the night and scrawling the ending to my first novel on a pad of paper in the dark. I’ll never forget the exact moment I solved the mysteries to my second and third novels. I cried at some point in the writing of four of the five books I’ve penned. Writing is gratifying.
7) Finally, I’ve come full circle, and though this is similar to #1 above, writing is a pleasurable way to escape. Life’s problems can disappear for a while when I write. Stress for work or money problems or stupid decisions I’ve made can be forgotten temporarily. Who needs yoga? When I write, I can get alone, and not be alone because my characters are real to me. I can get the focus off my issues and deal with theirs. I can get away from my world and get mixed up somewhere else in theirs. I can get away from people that get me down. And characters I don’t like or who deserve karma or justice, I can kill them or ruin them (and not be a psychopath) or put them in jail or at least put them in their place. For sure, it’s never boring.
I started by asking the question, “Is writing fun?” I suppose that’s an opinion question, but for a real writer, maybe it’s a rhetorical one instead. Of course it’s fun. I (we) get to use my (our) imaginations, we get to learn things, we find it rewarding, we share ourselves, we can do unique things, we get to feel things, and we get to escape. Those are all great reasons to turn a hobby or a talent into a passion. Give it a try sometime and experience the fun.