So what makes writing fun? Ursula K. LeGuin wrote in one of her fine, inspiring essays, that there were three parts to writing: planning, writing, editing. I think the ‘fun’ element is different for each of these.
Planning – this may be the most fun. Your mind is free to soar and anything feels possible. It is focused day-dreaming and you take yourself on a guided tour of your own imaginary landscape. You meet and interact with extraordinary people and creatures who are straight out of your most passionate desires and darkest fears. The details begin to accumulate and you feel a story building. Connections are forged, purpose solidifies, a cohesive vision begins to unfold. You want to tie it down, create the reality, prove the validity of your imaginings. Most of all, you don’t want to *lose* it. You want to share with others the wonders you’ve conceived out of nothing but your own pure essence.
Writing – Knowing when to start setting down words is something each of us must learn. You don’t want to pick your story before it’s ripe. You don’t want to be disappointed when you can’t capture the magic that seemed so clear in your mind. You want the need to get it out to be greater than the fear of getting it wrong. This is where a certain amount of faith comes in. You need to learn to believe that you can take the fire from your mind and bottle it in neon tubes that spell out in words what you want to say. You need to train yourself to enter that mode at will – put on the gloves, pick up the torch and start bending the glass into the shape of your desire. It is *work*. It is hot, difficult and often frustrating when the tubes prove stubborn or the fire elusive.
But the satisfaction of mastering those elements, as well as yourself, is more than fun or even simple pleasure – it is joy, fierce and keen. You *know* when it’s going right and there’s not many feelings better than that.
Editing – Not my favorite – picking apart the story, finding the holes, the cracks, the gaping fissues that threaten to split the whole thing asunder. I find such big problems so disheartening, I do a great deal during the planning and writing stages to avoid them. It’s hard enough dealing with small issues – acknowledging that you’ve not managed to conceive and capture a perfect vision after all. But it is something else that we must accept and learn to deal with. Editing is an amazing tool. It is the ability to go back once the fires of creation have died down and see what doesn’t quite fit together cleanly. New ideas and possibilities emerge. Different options can be seen more clearly once the base structure is in place. We now have the opportunity to sculpt and perfect with a fine touch and a deliberate eye. The whole has been revealed and everything that doesn’t enhance or add to it may need to be changed or removed.
Fun? Difficult to say, since it can be painful and slow. But it is like working your muscles – painful, yes, but you understand the purpose for it and you take pleasure in the increasing sense of control and power over your physical abilities. Editing is where you take control of your story, bend your conscious effort towards making it all that you want it to be. That is the challenge and when you find yourself rising to it, that’s where you will find enjoyment.