Writing for the Joy of It.
I loved that title. It was exactly what I dreamed of doing—the profit part of it anyway. At the time, all the writing was for fun, because I sure wasn’t spending all those hours filling pages for profit. But at times, it also wasn’t fun, forcing myself to the cubby hole my husband had helped me set up as a writing space after the kids were in bed after a long day, listening to my husband chuckling at something on TV in the other room. But I learned to do it anyway. And usually, the fun came as I got into it.
Yes, I didn’t really know what I was doing. But I was learning. I truly loved finding out about my characters as I wrote. (They always came first.) I’d hear them talk, feel them dealing with something strange or new, and they’d burst to life on the page, getting more and more distinctive as I wrote their story. By the time I was several chapters into my book, they were alive. They were unique. They were experiencing falling in love. Going to the computer to find out what was happening to them at that point was just FUN. (Shortly after Misty invited me to be a ‘guest’ here, she posted on her FB page about crying as she wrote the end of her current book and I knew, she was having FUN. Yes!)
And then I signed a book contract, or two or ten. Suddenly there were deadlines. Gradually, writing became a real job. It was becoming more profit than fun. (But I still liked finding out what was going to happen to those characters next.)
Then life came along. My kids left for college. My husband and I got off track for a while. Friends who had been anchors that kept me stable became the kind you’d throw overboard to bury someone at sea. Life changes. And I could not write anymore. For five years, I didn’t write a word, didn’t have ideas, didn’t do anything that resembled writing—except missing it lots and lots.
I started again when I had an idea for a non-fiction book about writing. I got an agent, sold it, (LIGHTS, CAMERA, FICTION: A Movie Lover’s Guide to Writing Fiction) and I was writing again. For profit!
Finally, I’m back writing for fun. I have three projects going. One is a series, similar to the book I wrote for Special Edition. One is a standalone contemporary traditional romance like the 9 I wrote for Harlequin Romance and…drum roll, please…a totally new adventure for me—a futuristic set 30 years from now. And I have no idea if it is a romance or just a story. I just know it is like nothing I’ve written before. But the best part? I’m writing it for fun. Yes. I would like some profit, and readers—because without readers, it seems like screaming in the forest with no one around to hear. What’s the point?
How I got to the ‘fun’ is the interesting (I hope) part.
I’ve always been creative. I took piano lessons for 12 years. I was pretty good. I wrote songs. When I got past the piano lesson stage in college, I had to have some creative project going. Stained glass? Yes, I’ve done it. Knitting? Yes, I can knit a mile of nothing. Tatting? Crocheting? Sewing? Designing costumes for 2 high school drama departments? Needle point? Oil painting? Macramé? I have boxes and boxes of unfinished ‘creative’ projects in the basement. The problem with all that creativity was that once you learned it, it didn’t feel creative anymore and got boring and tedious. When it wasn’t fun or challenging anymore, I was done.
No one can ever say that about writing. So when I couldn’t stand not writing anymore, I struggled to remember what had made me feel creative and longing to tell a story in the past. And came right back to music.
Music gave me the happy ending of the first book I sold. I was stuck, absolutely stuck, on that book, until I heard a song that so epitomized my hero’s journey and philosophy of life, the ending all fell right into place. (Silver Bells, Harlequin Romance)
My idea for my Shadows (Between Dusk and Dawn, Silhouette Shadows) came directly from a song from a movie that I was fascinated with enough to find the soundtrack that no one else wanted.
So I’ve turned up the music. Turned on the music again. (I love Pandora’s sneaky ability to just give me songs I like. They haven’t figured out yet that for a writer, the lyrics are an important part. Their choices are all about musical styles.)
So the point of all this is that if you lose the joy, go back to the beginning. Discover all over again what inspires and intrigues your creative side.
And write for the joy of it again.