Follow the fun

In which the principles of writing, creativity, and fun are helpfully illustrated with a range of rodents in an assortment of emotional conditions
Recently, one of my clients had two books to write, both on subjects he loves. One of them was feeling much more exciting, ideas churning, bits writing themselves in his head. “Oh well,” he said miserably, “I guess I should just write the other one first and get it out the way.” What? But that day, I was doing exactly the same. I had two projects, both with the same deadline: a business book to edit; and a novel to read for review. I was enjoying editing the business book, but I’d already spent two days in a row working solidly on just that. “Oh well,” I thought miserably, “I guess I’ll just make myself read the novel instead…”  What? In fact – WTF?

We’ve all learnt to do the tough stuff first. Put difficult things on top of the pile. Work hard now, so you can have fun later. Do what you don’t feel like doing. And for many aspects of business, that seems to make sense. But we get so good at this, that we start choosing the tedious option even when it makes no difference. It made no difference, for my client, which book he wrote first – and he loved both ideas, so once he’d written the one he wanted to, the other would come alive again. It made no difference to my deadlines, that day, whether I worked on the business book or the novel – and of course I’ll soon feel like curling up with a novel!

We get so good at boring-stuff-first that we even take the fun out of the fun stuff.

In fact, we get so good at “boring stuff first” that we even take the fun out of the fun stuff. Our lists and tick boxes and time-management, so useful so often, turn evil on us. Imagine making a to-do list for an evening out with your best friends: drink 3 glasses of wine; tell joke; confide in close friend re x issue; buy round; suggest meal; relate anecdote; laugh. Then all evening a small man in a business suit follows you around with a clipboard and a tick-list, tapping you on the shoulder all serious-faced to check which items he can tick. You’d kill him. And this is what we do to ourselves.

In writing, in all creativity, it’s essential to follow the fun. If your book is writing itself in your head, WOOHOO! Brilliant! Let it have paper and a pen, or access to a keyboard. If you have ten chapters to write and keep coming up with snippets for chapter 9, but you’re on chapter 2, excellent – jot them all down. What will come better and flow more naturally: the writing you’re trying to get out the way, or the writing that insists on inscribing itself in the air for lack of paper? When will your best ideas of what to include come, when you’re trying to drum up a list of bullet-points, wishing you could take a coffee break, or when they’re crowding out of their own accord?

Writing is better when it’s fun – so follow the fun.

We do the boring stuff first, because we secretly believe that we’ll never want to do the other stuff. But if you let the stuff you want to write be written, then you’ll have interest to spare for the rest. It all gets its turn to be exciting. Actually, every aspect of my business and creativity is something I feel like doing at some point. Sometimes I want to sit in a coffee shop colouring in, sometimes I want to storm out words, sometimes I want to edit, sometimes I want to plan. There are even days I get a kick out of filling in my tax return and inputting my expenses, enjoying the numbers and watching the tax payable go down.

Writing is better when it’s fun – so follow the fun.

• Is it more fun to have fifty colours of felt-tip pen and some paper than a bullet-pointed list on the computer? Use the felt-tips. Follow the fun.
• Is it more fun to have a cool playlist to listen to while you work? Invest 10 minutes in compiling something that will make your desk a fun place to be for the next month or more. Follow the fun.
• Is it more fun to write a snippet of the next chapter than the bit you’re on? Fine, jump down the document, or grab a sheet of paper, and write that bit. Follow the fun.
•Is it more fun to write a blurb for your bestselling book-to-be than the actual book, right now? Brilliant! Write the blurb. You’ll need it in the end anyway, it might be harder to write later, and it’ll probably help shape the book and motivate you. Follow the fun.
• Is it more fun to write with pictures on your wall, with plants or flowers around you, in a coffee shop instead of your office, on paper, in a park on a sunny day, next to a river, with a blanket wrapped round you, with essential oils burning, on the sofa? Follow the fun.

Writing doesn’t care where it’s written, how Professional you looked while writing it, or what order it’s written in. But it does care if writing it was fun, and it shows.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one that was more damn fun,
And that has made all the difference.

One thought on “Follow the fun

  1. Pingback: Keep your motivation alive – Part 3: The Open Road, or, How to treat writing like sex | Thought Leader Books: The Blog

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