We've all seen movies where it looks like the actors aren't having any fun. They can't wait to get off the set and go over to the catering truck for a snack break. They look a little embarrassed to be there on camera, actually filming this boring story. Those kind of movies aren't any fun to watch, either.
I've heard that when a writer isn't having any fun writing a story, the readers can tell. A week or so ago I stopped in the middle of a project I was working on and read it from the beginning and realized I didn't seem to be having much fun. I was making myself write because that's what I do. I was doing it on automatic. Like the way I wash dishes.
No one wants to hang around and watch me wash dishes.
So last night I decided to think wa-a-a-y back to what got me hooked on writing in the beginning. What was it, when I wrote that first science fiction story in third grade, or that fantasy novella in junior high, or that graphic novel I never finished in high school, that made me feel like I was taking the first plunge of a giant roller coaster and I wanted to throw up my hands and shout "WHEEEEEE!"
Here are the answers I came up with:
- FEELING: The words, words alone, could make me feel like something exciting, important, terrible, and wonderful was happening, even though I was only sitting there, scribbling in a notebook. I could tell myself stories in my head that would charge up my emotions, and then I could write them down, read them later, and get the same emotional buzz.
- CHARACTERS: I liked to hang out with my imaginary friends. What can I say? It was almost as fun as hanging out with my real friends. Sometimes it was more fun, since my imaginary friends had space ships and could do magic.
- PLACES: I never had to be where I was. Working on a story transported me. It felt like exploring, traveling, going on an adventure.
- PUZZLES: Figuring out how to get my characters in and out of totally awesomely horrible situations without breaking any rules of the game always kept my brain very, very happy.
- TIME: The hours flew by when I wrote. My internal clock is usually merciless, always driving me to get things done on schedule. When I wrote, the gears would slip, and I'd be totally free.