“Don’t do it if it’s not fun”

“Don’t do it if it’s not fun.”

“If you don’t enjoy it, you shouldn’t be a writer.”

I am so tired of seeing advice like this, to be quite honest. They’re these blanket proclamations that a lot of writers seem to identify with and so it keeps getting passed around.

And maybe I’m the black sheep here, because I do not identify with it. It doesn’t work like that for me.

The thing is this: WRITING IS HARD. It’s WORK. And more often than not, to be perfectly honest, I don’t enjoy it. Writing is very often me cringing over every word I put down. It’s finding a nail embedded deep in a wall and needing pliers to yank it out.

I have moments where the words fly out or where I connect with a character. I have moments where I see the story in startling clarity and in those moments, it is fun. And those are the moments that carry me through.

Sometimes, I identify more with the label of “reader” than “writer,” and that carries me through too. I write the stories I want to read. I make them come alive with revision, and I look forward to revision because that’s when I get to read. And when I can read something I wrote and enjoy it, I am glad I slog through all the “not fun” of not writing.

But when people say “you shouldn’t do it if it’s not fun,” it really rubs me the wrong way. It makes me doubt myself sometimes. ‘If it’s not fun, am I not a ~real writer? Should I not be doing this?’ They sometimes make me wonder. If I listened in my lower moments, when every word is a struggle, I’d have quit by now.

4 thoughts on ““Don’t do it if it’s not fun”

  1. Truth!

    Although maybe they’re talking about when the *entire* process stops becoming fun, and you don’t even take pleasure in the finished product? Maybe it’s an overall fun rather than a point-by-point. That’s how I always viewed this saying.

  2. This really strikes a chord with me, Jen! I used to think writing was always just about having fun, especially back in the days when I was just writing fan fiction FOR fun. But writing, real writing, like creating a book actually takes a lot of time and effort and HARD WORK. While writers should enjoy the art of creation and meeting their characters and getting the words on the page, it doesn’t mean every single moment is fun!

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