Do You Actually ENJOY Writing?

Someone asked me this question recently, and it’s stuck in my brain. The answer isn’t obvious.

There’s no question I love writing. It gives me purpose. When I write – a novel, a story, a poem, a blog post – I get that feeling of yes, this is what I’m supposed to do with my life. It’s that overriding passion that gets me through the hard parts.

Because, as we well know, there are a lot of hard parts. If there’s one thing writers love to do (myself included), it’s whine about how hard it is. It’s hard to take a great idea, throw it at the page, and discover after two or three false starts that it’s not a great idea after all. It’s even harder to throw a great idea at the page and discover that you haven’t (or can’t) do it justice. It’s harder yet to spend months of revision wondering whether it’s “haven’t” or “can’t.” And when you finally finish, the choice between traditional and self-publishing sometimes feels like the choice between rejection and indifference.

Yes, I know, writing is the easiest thing in the world: you sit in a chair and type words. Doesn’t make it any less hard. I’ve talked about this easy/hard duality before.

I like having succeeded, of course. When you finish something that people really enjoy, when you know in your heart you’ve created something beautiful, of course it’s fun to look back at the gauntlet you ran and say “Yeah, I got through all that.”

But you can’t live in the end state, and I wouldn’t if I could. You live in the process.

Do I actually enjoy writing? Like, while I’m doing it?

The answer is yes, but it’s hard to explain.

Certainly I don’t like it all the time. Every step of the process (first draft, revision, submission) is by turns dull, frustrating, and disappointing. I guess I’ve said that already.

But beneath all that, the driving, underlying love sort of…bubbles up through, into “like.”

I like the idea phase, when everything is possible and everything is new. I like the happy surprises, when you lay down a sentence or a scene and think “Huh, that actually turned out pretty good.” I like watching my story take shape in the fires of revision. I even like the excitement of sending out query letters, when the big dark voice of “This will probably get rejected” can’t drown out the bright little voice of “But maybe it won’t.”

All those things, and more, I like.

And the rest? That’s what the love is for.

You tell me – do you actually enjoy writing?

9 responses to “Do You Actually ENJOY Writing?

  1. This all depends on whether storytelling and writing are separate.

    I love making up stories and characters. Writing aids in that. So, yes, when it comes to making up a story, I LOVE writing.

    But everything else that gets away in that is what I don’t love and find it frustrating and find myself wishing I wanted to be a doctor or something else instead.

  2. I think Enjoyment of Writing is a spectrum. I’m probably closer to the “have written” end of the spectrum than the “am writing” end, but I do enjoy the process sometimes.

    What I enjoy *most* is the feeling of wanting to write — that eagerness to get away from wherever you are (boring party, commute, work) and get to your computer, your blank page, your characters and their world.

    • I think you’re right about the spectrum – some people only do it for the finished product (or – even more extreme – for the money they’ll get from it). Then you’ve got the other end, people like Henry Darger, who wrote 15,000 pages with no apparent plans of ever showing it to anybody else. Like you, I’m closer to the “have written” end.

  3. I do actually enjoy most aspects of writing. I’ve noticed that whenever I get to a new stage in the process I write a blog post gushing about how awesome that stage of the process is. Editing, brainstorming, drafting, rewriting — apparently I love and enjoy them all.

    The part I don’t like is the part that happens when I’m not writing, but when I’m thinking about writing. The “Am I Good Enough?” part. But the fact that I absolutely love and enjoy writing gets me through the worst of the self doubt.

  4. Pingback: Monday’s Top 5 | The Happy Logophile

  5. Wow. You pose such an interesting question…

    I love it, YES! Do I get frustrated? DEFINITELY YES! Do I want to pull my hair out during it? At times, YES! Is it worth it? OH HECK YES!

    As I’ve quoted on my blog and various other social media sites, I have a love/hate relationship with my work. But love wins in the end. 🙂

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