First, Find the Fun


I started getting published in the 80s and 90s when I realized it was a simple as one thing: give the editor what they want. But it wasn’t until recently that I realized that there were more important things than cashing a paycheck from a publisher.

I tell my students there are two good reasons to make sure you are having fun while you are writing. First, if you are bored with what you are writing, that boredom will come out as obvious to the reader, and they will inevitably be bored. But on the other hand, if you are enjoying yourself, that fun will be reflected in your writing. You will start to loosen up (albeit you might have to go back and edit a bit. There is such a thing as too loose!) and get informal and chatty rather than (ahem) dignified with your writing, something that all to many of my academic colleagues have problems with when they are trying to reach a mainstream audience.

Second, and I emphasize this, there are no guarantees in life. You may never get published. You may never even finish the manuscript. You may, as I did, complete the manuscript only to realize that I subconsciously copied the storyline of another famous story. Arrgh! I hate when that happens. But fortunately it’s only happened once. But in any case, if you were to get hit by a Greyhound bus tomorrow on page 200 of your 300 page novel, would you consider your life a total loss? Or was the joy in the journey? Have fun! If you’re not enjoying the process of writing, there are better things to do with your life. Take up basketweaving, or baseball, or bookkeeping. Heaven knows an accountant can make more money than a writer.

But if you’re called to be a writer, write what you are called to write. Find the fun. Look for that muse and frolic on the grass with him or her. And after you are done with all that frolicking, share it with us.

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