Helen (heleninwales) wrote,
Helen
heleninwales

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Doing what you enjoy

anghara is talking here about people who say they hate certain aspects of the writing process. I do agree with some of the things she says, but to be fair to those who complain, there isn't just one activity that you can point at and call "writing". It's the same with every job. There isn't just one activity that you can point at and call "teaching". In the day job, I enjoy planning lessons and writing teaching materials. I enjoy the time I actually spend with students. However, I hate the paperwork and form filling and having to sort out the money for course fees, and getting all this admin done to a deadline, not to mention the marking of test papers. But that's as much part of the job of being a teacher as standing in front of a class of students enlightening and entertaining them.

I often say that I hate writing first drafts. I love thinking up the ideas and playing with them and getting to know the characters in my head. The hardest part for me is turning those images and conversations and feelings into words on a page. Once I have a first draft, I really enjoy the polishing and cutting and rearranging that many people loathe. But that first draft is a slog at times. Does that make me any less a writer? Personally I think not. I think that as long as you like enough of any job, you'll grit your teeth through the parts that don't fill you with joy.

Also I think it's misleading to new writers if experienced writers give the impression that all stages are equally enjoyable and that if you aren't equally thrilled, then you aren't cut out for the job. For every writer that loves pouring their ideas down into a sparkly new first draft, there'll be one who finds that the words never flow easily, but they love the polishing and revising. For them stories are re-written rather than written.

As it doesn't matter to the reader how a particular story came to be created, then as long as the writer can evolve a working method that, on balance, gives them enjoyment and satisfaction, then everything is OK.

And you know, if writing was too easy, I wouldn't get a sense of satisfaction out of it. When I'm walking up a mountain, I wouldn't say that I actually enjoy the sensations of breathlessness and aching calf muscles I experience as I climb, but ultimately I get a much greater sense of enjoyment and achievement when I stand at the top of a mountain I've walked up by my own unaided efforts. Taking a train or cable car just doesn't give the same sense of satisfaction.
Tags: writing reflection
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