...in among all manner of different comments and counter-comments, confessions and questions and answers and pieces of advice, one thing struck me and this was how painful the whole thing seemed to be. How much angst, anguish, worry, striving, fear of failure, self-flagellation and goodness knows what else which indicated that almost none of these people are ENJOYING WRITING. Now if I had not enjoyed writing, from the age of 5, if I had not always and everywhere found it huge fun, stimulating, interesting, exciting, entertaining and surprising, I would have gone off years ago and done something else. I love writing, just as I imagine those who can play football or any other game or paint pictures or sing or ride horses .. love what they do. There is hard work and a certain amount of anxiety but if you have even the smallest bit of talent, then you should be enj0ying the exercise of it - if you don't, for heaven's sake give up. NOW.
I realize "football" means something different to Ms. Hill than it does to me, but I like the sports analogy. Is it possible for a player to make it to the top of the heap without having an insatiable desire to participate in the game? I don't believe so. Anybody who isn't crazy in love with football isn't going to go far in the sport, I don't care how talented he is. And so it is with writing.
Ms. Hill goes on:
There has always, among very literary writers, been a certain badge of honour worn about the Suffering involved, the agony, the blood, the sweat and tears, the soul-searching, the pain of the creative process. All of which of C...p. Hard work, yes. Frustration when it doesn't quite go right, certainly. But otherwise, fun and more fun.
Maybe that little word "fun" bothers some writers because it appears to suggest this process is an easy one. Writing isn't easy--it requires vast quantities of patience plus unwavering concentration and some amazing organizational skills--in short, discipline. But if you don't find it irresistibly challenging and deeply satisfying--in other words, fun--then maybe you weren't really cut out to be a writer.
"No rules. Just write" is more than a silly corruption of Outback Steakhouse's advertising slogan. For the past four years it has represented my philosophy of novel-writing. Susan Hill proves herself a kindred spirit with these words:
The writing life can be made too full of Shoulds and Oughts. It's too easy to beat ourselves up. I SHOULD write 1,000 words a day. I OUGHT to work in the morning when I'm fresh. I MUST write every single day. I WILL MAKE MYSELF finish this chapter before I let myself have a cup of coffee
Oh for heaven's sake. No should or ought or must. Just enjoy it. Have fun. If this one isn't working, try another. If all you have is misery, stop doing it.
If you truly believe you were meant to be a writer, then reject the rules others would impose on you and just write! Once you begin having fun, that will show through and your writing will be better than ever.
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