Creative Writing: Is It Fun or Is It Work?
Creative writing belongs to the arts, and the arts are an odd bunch.
People pursue artistic endeavors for different reasons. For some, it’s a hobby. For others, a livelihood. For most, it’s a hobby they dream of turning into a livelihood.
It’s a worthwhile dream and a lofty one too. But what does it take to get there? How much fun are you allowed to have, and just how much work must you do to turn your passion into a full-time job?
And if you do manage to make a career out of creative writing, will it still be as fun as it was when it was just a hobby?
Creative Writing is Fun
Young and new writers often come to creative writing because they find it enjoyable. Many are avid readers, so inspired by their love of literature that they want to create it. Others are compelled to express themselves on the page or to have their voices heard by an audience of readers.
Most of us have experienced sudden inspiration. You’re sitting there and a poem comes to you fully formed. It’s finished within minutes and it just might be brilliant. It feels more like the poem came through you from some source outside of yourself. It’s pure magic. It’s exciting. It’s fun.
When we are being creative, and especially when we’re tapped into that magical kind of creativity, it’s an extremely pleasurable experience. From the instant we start writing until our work is completed, we’re on a wild ride, exciting but dangerous too. Because if we rely on having fun, we may start to believe the many misconceptions about creative writing as a career or lifestyle.
Misconceptions About Creative Writing
It’s not uncommon for novice writers who have experienced the magic of sudden inspiration to wait for it to strike again. It’s likely that it will strike again, eventually. But waiting for this type of inspiration to hit you is a bad habit. You’re simply fostering an addiction to the adrenaline-like rush that the magical muse evokes.
This idea that creativity magically happens is just one of the many misconceptions that inexperienced writers have about the craft. These misconceptions are dangerous because they are beliefs that direct writers away from their work. And sometimes, being creative is hard work indeed.
Here are a few of the most notorious misconceptions that surround creative writing:
- Myth: You shouldn’t read much because other writers’ styles might leak into your own work and it won’t be original. That’s like saying you shouldn’t interact with other people because you might adopt their personalities. Trust that your own unique style will emerge, even if it is influenced by other writers.
- Myth: Good grammar is unnecessary if you want your writing to be raw and edgy. Writing is raw and edgy because of what it communicates, not because it’s peppered with typos and poorly structured sentences.
- Myth: Why work at writing when you can just sit around and wait for inspiration to happen? Um, because you’ll produce almost nothing.
- Myth: Artistic success is borne of pure talent. Talent is a booster, not the foundation upon which a successful artistic career is built.
- Myth: You don’t need to hone your creative writing skills because you have natural talent. No matter how talented you are, you are not born knowing how to read and write. There is work to be done!
See? Dead wrong on all counts.
Creative Writing is Fun, Hard Work
Like anything, if you want to succeed in creative writing, you’ve got to work at it. I’ve tried many creative endeavors over the years, and writing is one of the most challenging pursuits you can choose. It requires a vast skill set, intense determination, and a willingness to work. It also requires a good measure of creativity, and you need business skills too. Talent is just the icing on the cake, something you’re born with if you’re lucky.
People have all kinds of funny ideas about hard work and creativity, many of which are nothing more than idle fears. A common one is avoiding a career path in creative writing because then it will become a job and that would take all the fun out of it. Another is that if you have to work hard at creative writing, then you must be talentless.
Misconceptions about the arts are rampant. It’s no wonder artistic people are so misunderstood by the rest of the world. We tend to be an unusual bunch, and many of these misconceptions come from artists themselves.
The truth is that hard work and fun are not necessarily separate from one another. Hard work can be fun and good fun can also be hard work. Going to Disneyland might sound like fun, but even that takes hard work – the work you have to do to pay for your trip, making reservations, packing, getting there, standing in line. If people will do all that for a few minutes of thrills on some theme park rides, why can’t they work just as hard to make their dreams come true instead of sitting around waiting for that magic, that talent, to manifest?
If you work hard at your creative writing, that magic will happen. In fact, the harder you work, the more frequently the magical inspiration will appear. There’s no real benefit in waiting for the muse to honor you with her presence. So stop waiting. Stop looking for an easy way to compose a poem, draft a short story, or write a novel. Sit down and get to work. And have fun while you’re doing it.
Keep working, and keep writing.