Do you enjoy writing?

That might sound like a stupid question of course – given this is a blog written by a writer and read mostly by other writers and keen readers. And that’s why I asked it. Oh yes, I don’t just throw this stuff together.

Well, ok, maybe I do – but I have at least some thought for the consequences. And ‘Do you enjoy writing?’ isn’t such a daft question as it sounds. Because when I ask it of myself – I find mostly the answer is no – I don’t really enjoy it. Not the same way I enjoy ice-cream or red wine or sunsets or a good film. I don’t enjoy writing the way I enjoy reading.

Writing isn’t something I enjoy, it’s something that I do.

The obvious next question then is why do it? I mean why write fiction? I don’t get paid for it – at least not enough to live on. I get the occasional tichy pay-day when a story wins a competition and my book, when it comes out, will pay royalties – though, as the mathematicians amongst us will be aware, 15 per cent of nothing is nothing.

So there must be some other pay-off then? Yes – there are many.

The actual process of writing can be a trial – a brain-ache and a nuisance, something I would rather not be doing. But nevertheless I do it, because it is what I feel compelled to do. It feels like what I’m good at – it feels like what I’m for if you like, and it always has done.  It is something which is not part of me but which I think will always be with me – like the weather. I could have said like air or water – but I need those, I don’t need to write – I just want to. Also you can have bad weather, like bad writing.

Another reason I write, despite not actively taking pleasure in it, is that, although the process of sitting somewhere getting words onto a page, then revising them again and again and again until they feel right is not enjoyable at the time it does have an effect on my overall sense of wellbeing.

I think it does anyway – I’m not sure. But I’m going to say it does. I think that, when I am writing fiction I have more of a general sense of satisfaction – an underlying fuzzy sense of goodness. You can tell I’ve not really thought this bit out.

Is it just me or does anyone else feel like that?

18 thoughts on “Do you enjoy writing?”

  1. Love it! I can totally relate! Especially the revisions part! What it is for me is I love stories and I love to be taken away from reality, even if it is only for a little while. That is why I chose to sit down and write the world that I’m creating, and I do love the story.

    1. Yes – wouldn’t it be nice if the story just appeared, rather than having to be pulled out word by word? There is a satisfaction once it’s done of course.

  2. Sometimes writing helps you to understand something better, like seeing a situation in a new light. Sometimes a bit of research is necessary and again this means you learn more. Not always the case. I have different mindset days (i) scrawling down the story (ii) researching and checking some facts (iii) attention to detail editing and I have to be in the right mood to do these entirely different aspects of writing a book. Overall, I love it.

    1. You are right – it’s many different things. I would say there’s also planning and outlining characters and plot – scribbling down random ideas – and different types of editing from major rewrites to proof-reading. It’s certainly a complex business.

  3. I feel that writing connects your heart, mind and soul with your physical body. It’s when I write that divine intervention and those mountain top experiences happen. Although I may not enjoy writing, just for the sake of writing, I do enjoy the benefits and ending result of writing. Similar in idea to working out and getting exercise; There is pain and discomfort in the process, but endorphins are worth the inconvenience to have an enriched life.

    1. Thanks Jessi – that’s kind of how I feel as well I suppose, though I might not express it in such spiritual terms – I think that’s what I was getting at when I said it gives me a general sense of wellbeing.

      1. Yes! The fuzzy sense of goodness you talk about. This is very profound and I admire how you reveal your free-flowing, inner thoughts. It requires bravery and courage to be vulnerable on an idea you’re exploring. A brilliant brainstorm.

  4. I love writing, that first rush of ideas and characters and and voices I can barely get down on the page they’re coming so thick and fast and when patterns start to form, the connections that turn a series of images and conversations into a *story*. That’s the compulsion.

    What I *hate*, is re-writing – which is what I mostly do and sometimes for *years*. So why do that? I suppose because I can never leave anything unfinished; once started, I have to finish, always have, always will, I think. That must be the compulsion bit of the equation. 🙂

    1. Hmm yes – rewriting is really important though isn’t it? Well it is to me anyway – I always think nothing I say ever makes sense until after about the third rewrite! I find all parts of the process equally good/bad though – in that I get a lot of satisfaction from it but can also find it a drudge.

      1. My first draft is always appalling! Stephen King’s advice to put it in a drawer for 6 weeks before looking again is excellent but very hard to follow.

      2. Alexander Pope’s advice was to keep your piece ten years – which beats Stephen King’s six weeks by quite a long way – he was just being mean though. But I do think it’s a great idea to hang on to things until you’ve forgotten them then go back to them – I often re-edit old short stories in that way – then sometimes they win things.

  5. Great post. I often find it hard to pull out each word, I have to switch off my inner editor to just get on with it and I’m constanting writing notes in brackets to myself saying ‘this is rubbish’ ‘rewrite this bit Claire’. It helps me admit aloud that the first draft is very rough. What I really enjoy is the polishing and editing. Moving words around, until something sparkles.
    Glad to know that other people find it difficult too.

    1. I think lots of writers do those ‘this is rubbish’ notes – I remember reading that Phillip Larkin scrawled them all over his earlier work. I’d say those are a sign that you won’t settle for second best! I do it too but I tend to be a bit kinder to myself – the notes tend to be about specifics ‘style drops off in this section’ ‘you’ve used that joke before’ that kind of thing rather than just giving myself a bollocking!

  6. That hour before heading off to work, when I can just sit down and write- it’s what I live for. First drafts, revisions, eighth or ninth rewrite…doesn’t matter. It’s all transport. I am no longer here. Have to smoke a cigarette after.

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