There are so many writing rules out there and plenty of disagreement about which ones are worth adhering to and which ones should just be ignored. Some of the most famous ones are the ‘write every day’ rule and the ‘write what you know’ rule – both of which are widely misinterpreted! But there are plenty of others too and new ones pop up all the time. But I think the most important one has been forgotten somewhere along the way.
Writing is hard. It should be hard because anything worth doing, anything with the potential to change the world, shouldn’t come too easily. Writing is something you work at. Natural talent helps a lot but all writers improve the more they write, and all writers should be keen to improve their craft as they go along, acknowledging their weak areas, feedback from readers and professionals and so on.
What I’ve noticed lately though is that ‘writing is hard’ seems to dominate the writing community more and more. I see a lot of negative memes and posts about writing and it worries me. Writing is hard, don’t get me wrong. From that clumsy first draft where you are crawling through the dark trying to find the plot, to those final, tedious proofreads and edits where you think you will go crazy if you ever have to read through this thing again. Writing is hard because the right words don’t always come easily and writing is hard because sometimes characters take a while to become fully realised and alive. Writing is hard because marketing and advertising are expensive and not within everyone’s reach. Writing is hard because all too often your nearest and dearest don’t support your book babies. We get it. Writing is and should be hard.
But we are forgetting the most important thing, the thing that makes writing less hard and less all of the things mentioned above! Writing should be fun! Writing should be enjoyable. Writing should make you feel better about being human and living in this world. If it’s not fun, not enjoyable, why the hell are you doing it?
I have to admit, I just don’t understand it when I see so many writers moaning about how hard it is to write and how they procrastinate for hours or days at a time, how they have to be dragged kicking and screaming into their writing chair. There are so many memes out there that seem to suggest writing a book is nothing short of torture…
I just don’t get it…
If it feels that bad, if you hate it that much… why are you doing it?
When did the joy of writing and creating worlds get eroded? It’s tough out there, believe me, I know. Low sales and reviews can be soul destroying and jealousy and imposter syndrome creep in when you see other writers doing better than you. No doubt there is a tough side to this. I often say I could happily give up on the publishing and selling side of books, because that is the toughest bit, but the writing bit? Hell no! Not ever… You would have to drag me kicking and screaming from my writing desk and you still wouldn’t win.
Writing should be joyous, freeing and life affirming. I couldn’t do it if it made me feel worse. Real life is there for that! Writing is the escape… The chance to disappear and build your own universe, create heroes and villains, twisty plots to make your readers gasp and endings that are just too perfect. It’s not easy, but it should be fun. It should be more than fun. It should be utterly glorious. It should be something that excites you, something that makes you long for the moment you sit down and write…
In all the disappointment, self-doubt, endless edits and fruitless marketing, let’s not forget why we started this. Let’s not forget why we write. The most important writing rule in my opinion is it ought to be fun.