I can already hear you saying, “Well, duh. Of course it is.” And you’d be right. But how many of us actually remember to have fun while we’re doing it?
It’s easy to turn our creative processes into another daily grind, when that’s not what they’re supposed to be. I don’t mean we shouldn’t be working hard at them. I simply mean we choose to write because it’s our passion, because it’s impossible not to, because it’s all we can imagine doing. That means we have even more reason not to let writing become just another thing on our list of to-do’s.
A few weeks ago, during a really crazy period of work/life, someone from my gym pulled me aside to check on me. He reminded me to be careful to fit rest time into my schedule and then he said something that made me stop.
He said, “You know it’s supposed to be fun?”
Seven simple words, spoken over his shoulder as he walked away, but they resonated. They stuck with me on the drive home. They echoed through my head until I had to write something about them so they were fixed permanently where I could see them (hello, blog post).
He was talking about life, but it made me realise the same could be said about anything we set our eyes on. In fact, it should.
The Daily Grind
For a lot of us, we work full or part-time in jobs that aren’t writing. Writing often places second for us, not by choice, but because it doesn’t pay, well, anything yet. By the time we finally get to our manuscripts, it’s after 10pm, we’ve had rude customers in our faces all day and we’ve stepped in dog vomit while wearing socks (speaking from experience on that last one). In short, we’re tired.
That makes it easy to treat writing as just another thing to get done.
Write for twenty minutes; tick it off your list. You’ve reached your daily target.
There’s nothing wrong with only having a small window of time for your manuscript but it’s how we approach that time that matters. Because if it’s just something to get done, it won’t be up to the standard you know you’re capable of.
Why? Because passion-writing is more powerful than because-I-have-to-writing. And when you pair passion with hard work and skills you’ve honed and refined? Damn. That’s going to be some of the best writing you’ve ever produced.
Treating writing like a 9-5 kills the joy that made you fall in love with it in the first place. It undermines your capabilities as a writer and turns it into something it shouldn’t be.
Passion over pages
On 30th April, I competed in a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournament. I went up against the same girls in the gi and no gi divisions. In other words, I got beat up by them each, twice.
When they grappled, there was no passion, only determination to win. One of them relied solely on her coach to tell her what move to make next (don’t get me wrong, the girl pulled off each move properly, even if she needed instruction. She was still skilled).
But there was one girl who was different. She smiled, she hugged, she laughed. She had fun. And you know what? She took home gold and silver.
When I stepped on the mats to verse her, her bubbly attitude reminded me of why I was at the tournament. It wasn’t to win (even if that would have been nice). It was because I love BJJ. It was to pit myself against girls in the same skill range and weight category. It was to experience another side of the sport and art form I am crazy for.
I honestly believe the passion that girl brought to her matches was the reason she won gold and silver. I also believe it’s a reminder not to lose the reason behind our actions.
If I compete in a BJJ tournament, I should do it because I love the sport.
If you write, you should do it because it’s your passion… your love… your dream… your outlet. Whatever it is, it’s yours, not some job you do because you have to. And if you feel like you do, I want to encourage you to try and rediscover what brought you to writing in the first place.
There will be days when the joy is lacking or you can only think of your writing as a job to be done. But on those days, I hope you’ll take a moment to remind yourself it’s supposed to be fun.
The work is hard. It’s sweating words onto paper. It’s agonising over every sentence, over every letter. And when you’re starting out, it seems like thankless work.
But if you infuse your time with the passion you felt the first time you sat down to write, you’re making all that work worth it. Don’t lose sight of the feeling you got when you first imagined your manuscript. Of the moment you thought of the big plot twist or finale.
Letting the love you have for your writing bleed onto the pages is powerful. Letting your joy shine through lights a path for readers who are lost in their own daily grind.
So go, have fun.