Why writing is fun for me

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed,” is a popular quote often attributed to Ernest Hemingway. I don’t mind that Hemingway wrote it; what confuses me is how popular the quote is. 

From this perspective, creativity is a curse, and the image of the tortured artist comes to mind. It reminds me of an essay by author Costica Bradatan, in which he recalls the story of an architect from Shiraz, who designed the world’s most beautiful mosque:

Famous builders begged the architect to allow them to erect the mosque; wealthy people came from afar to buy the plans; thieves devised schemes to steal them; powerful rulers considered taking them by force. Yet the architect locked himself in his study, and after staring at the plans for three days and three nights, burned them all.

The architect couldn’t stand the thought that the realized building would have been subject to the forces of degradation and decay, eventual collapse or destruction by barbarian hordes. During those days and nights in his study he saw his creation profaned and reduced to dust, and was terribly unsettled by the sight. Better that it remain perfect. Better that it was never built.

As tragic as it sounds, perhaps the architect was wise to end the torture early; in their mind, it could remain perfect. If they wanted to put it into the world, it would inevitably be met with a constraint, tainting its perfection. The architect likely didn’t believe in the philosophy of wabi sabi, and the acceptance of imperfection.

By contrast, for me, writing is usually one of the best parts of my day. I don’t think about slogging away at it; I’m really stoked I get to do it. Just two days ago, I was up past midnight writing a piece about a topic that’s been on my mind for years

Writing at my blog actually gives me energy for the other parts of my life; it doesn’t drain it away.

Perhaps there’s a sense of metaphorical muscle to my experience of writing (I’ve been writing at a blog since I was 15), as well as a natural inclination towards the written word (I really like reading books). But I’ve also deliberately made a few decisions to make sure writing at my blog stays fun. I’ll write them in “universal you” format, so it’s more engaging and can appear as applicable rules:

  • You write about whatever interests or energizes you that day. If it doesn’t catch your attention, you’re not going to write about it.
  • You don’t make writing your career of choice. You work a day job or operate a separate business, which means your financial health doesn’t depend on your writing. (This is really important!)
  • You refrain from looking at analytics as much as possible.
  • You try to build up a queue of writing so that you’re not under pressure to write and release every day.
  • You let go of “being a writer” as part of your identity; you accept that whether your book hits the New York Times bestseller list, or you always just write in your journal, you’re a writer as long as you keep writing.

With these rules, you can make writing—or whatever craft you’re working on!—more fun too.

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