Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing

Have Fun!

That Is What I Am Always Telling Writers…

Having fun with the writing experience and publishing experience is the secret to being a long-term fiction writer. It really is that simple.

But what is fun? So many writers think that when I say that, they have to be happy, smiling, laughing while they write. Well, some are. I am seldom that way, unless writing comedy, and then I am laughing at how silly and stupid what I am writing is.

But mostly the fun I have is with the challenge of writing a story. And there is nothing consistent or straight-line about writing stories, especially if you write into the dark. Every story presents differently from the one before it or the one you will write after it.

So there is stress.

And worry.

And fretting.

And fear. (And sometimes even panic.)

Yup. Like riding a rollercoaster.

Exactly like riding a rollercoaster, actually, and you have a blast doing that while screaming your fool head off and scared to death.

That’s writing a novel into the dark. Buckle in and believe you will end back up in the station, breathing hard and laughing.

Yet so many writers have bought into the myth that writing is “work” and you must suffer for your art. And that you can’t make a mistake or have a wrong word and everything has got to be planned out ahead because, heaven-forbid, you write extra words.

And, of course, everything has to be rewritten, edited by someone who doesn’t write, rewritten again, and so on in search of a perfection that never can exist in the arts.

That’s torture and writers who write that way seldom last for more that a few books or a few years.

Sitting alone in a room and making shit up is fun. Plain and simple. Sometimes fun because of how well a story is going, sometimes rollercoaster fun of pure terror and worry and fear (and maybe even panic).

But fun.

So go have fun. Gets some words done. It’s Friday night and I have a movie to watch.


  • AndrewV


    Just wanted to say how much I appreciate this. This is the advice 90% of writers need to understand!

    It’s not just for fiction writing either. I write in a totally different subset, but when I tell myself I am going to enjoy the process of creation my writing is always at it’s best. Writers have one of the most fun jobs on Earth. We just need to remind ourselves of it 🙂

    Thanks for all you do in dispelling myths!

  • Connie Parrott

    Sir, you NAILED the writing experience for me when you described it as a rollercoaster ride. That’s me totally. Stressing to the point I have heart palpitations. Fretting when I’m writing, fretting when I’m not. Anger also. Days of harassing myself for daring to think I could be a writer. (“Just what the hell were you thinking, Connie?”) And yet…there are moments when I’m giddy and deliriously happy because what I’ve just written is so funny/crazy/unreal and, dare I say it, perfect! Perfect to me. Therein lies the joy. Like birthing a baby. So much pain, then pure ecstasy over what I’ve created.

    My new mantra: I will end back up in the station, breathing hard and laughing. (Repeat over and over.)

    And this line from you is pure joy, the icing on the cake. “Sitting alone in a room and making shit up is fun.”

    I can’t thank you enough for this article. You’ve peeled so many layers from the onion that I am.
    All the best to you!

  • Glen Sprigg

    What I find the most fun is coming up with a cool idea that I haven’t seen before and running with it. It’s possible that someone else has done it, but I can’t read everything. So, I’ll just write what I want, and someone out there will want to read it!

    The trick, though, is keeping the butt stapled to the chair; after I reached my 100,000-word goal for October, I’ve only written 15,000 so far this month. Now I need to do 4,000 a night to reach the goal again. Time to grab that stapler…

  • Tim Myers

    Excellent post, Dean!
    Even after nearly thirty years in this crazy business, this sums up my writing experience perfectly. If it’s not fun, why bother? Life is too short, otherwise. I love the thrill of creation, of discovery, and yes, at times of the uncertainty of how it’s all going to work out, and then finally, ultimately, of reaching the end and shaking my head, thinking, “Wow, I did not see that coming, but it all makes perfect sense now.” Writing into the dark is the only way I can do all of that. It’s exhilarating every single time I cross that finish line.
    Thanks for the reminder to all of us to have fun!