Writing Should Be Fun

03/21/2016 09:36 pm ET Updated Mar 22, 2017
Female student writing in notebook, looking at camera, close-up
Female student writing in notebook, looking at camera, close-up

Yes, writing should be fun, and for most writers - even those writers who complain about writer's block, and who claim they like having written more than writing, and who say writing is like sitting at a desk until blood comes out of your forehead - writing is fun. They just don't recognize the fun when it's happening. That's because writers are overwhelmingly adults, and fun is what adults get to have when they're done doing their important adult work.

It's true that, if things go well, writing can become a job, a job within the business called publishing. Like all businesses, publishing would not exist unless it made money. Adults, after all, need to make money and pay bills and buy food and maybe even take a vacation now and again. All that is true. Adulthood carries with it the more or less constant responsibility of survival.

This was not so much the case when I was a child. The only time I thought about survival was while negotiating the unsupervised No Man's Land that was the '70s schoolyard. Otherwise, my only job, as far as I was concerned, was having fun. School was mostly an interruption to the fun. You could say I did my schoolwork so I could get back to my job.

My real job was to look around and find the most interesting game, toy, or thought, and then follow it. That was how I had fun. It was easy. Sometimes my fun involved other people, and sometimes it did not. It didn't matter. The point was to match the action to the feeling I'd named fun - that light, exploratory, curious, eager impulse within me seeking expression. Fun was never satisfied with the same game. It always needed something new. And so pretending I was a hero when I was five was fun, and then reading about heroes when I was ten was fun, and then, when I was thirteen, I found that writing a story about a hero was also fun.

I am now a stubborn child in a fifty-year-old man's body. I only want to have fun. I get grumpy when I think I can't have fun. When I think I can't have fun, I procrastinate and complain and become depressed. Fortunately, I am the only adult telling me I can't have fun. My adult tells me I need to make a living. He's adamant about this. It's virtually all he thinks about. He's no fun.

Very interesting idea: they sound like fun. It is easy to focus all my attention on a very interesting idea. The fun part of interesting ideas is they are only a beginning. An interesting idea is like a clue that leads to even more interesting ideas. I have found it is more satisfying to write these ideas down than to simply think about them, just as it is more satisfying to build a house with LEGOS than to simply imagine building a house with LEGOS.

Plus, if I write these ideas down, I can share them with other people. This is fun in much the same way that it is more fun to watch a movie with a friend than it is to watch it alone. Other people have a way of multiplying fun. It's mysterious, but you can't question these things. You can't even question it when these other people give you money for these interesting ideas you've written down.

Don't question whether having fun looks like making a living. It'll spoil the game. My adult always spoils games because he thinks they're only about winning and losing. As I said, he's no fun. The game can't be won or lost because it never ends; it just pauses sometimes while it waits for the next fun idea to come along.

You can learn more about William at williamkenower.com.