WRITING IS FUN … isn’t it?
Remembering why I write is hard sometimes. Remembering that I love it, and that it’s supposed to be fun – rather than hair-tearing and stressful, and often squeezed into a corner of the day rather than prioritised. Why is this so difficult?
When I was little, I wrote all the time. I had a little notebook with a picture of a poodle on the cover, given to me by my grandmother, and for some reason I wrote in it using a green felt-tip pen. I wasn’t even a stationery addict back then – I just wrote on the first thing that came to hand. It was quite a small notebook, and these days I’d scoff at it and say it was far too small and impractical. ‘I need book with space, with smooth, thick paper to do justice to my huge ideas. And a proper pen, an expensive fineliner or a fountain pen, something that helps my thoughts to flow …’
BOLLOCKS TO THAT.
Seriously. Stationery porn is a part of my life, and I’m not going to deny that notebooks filled with gorgeous cream vellum, and a panoply of stylish and aesthetically-thrilling pens make my heart beat faster – but Get Over It. The stories I scribbled in my tiny book, with the rather ugly, winsome, Hallmark poodle on the cover, in ink that stained my fingers a lurid green, were full of imagination. And freedom. And passion. I used to immerse myself in those stories, and hours would pass. Long, happy hours, in which I escaped from the humdrum of school, chores, who was whose best friend that week and why my socks would never stay up, and disappear into whichever world I felt like creating that day. I never thought about where these pieces of writing would end up, or if anyone would read them – I just wrote, caught up in the fun of taking an idea and turning it into something; seeing where it went. It was all about that fun, and discovery, and very simple, unadulterated JOY. And ‘unadulterated’ is an interesting word, isn’t it? Its actual meaning is to mess with something and, by implication, make it less powerful, or inferior. But I think that with writing, we ‘adulterate’ by literally becoming too adult about our work – too shy, embarrassed, self-critical, perfectionist, and nervous of negative reaction. No wonder the joy starts to dissipate!
Hard as it is, I would urge you to try to ditch the adult when writing. Obviously we need a mature outlook, and the ability to judge, edit and improve – I’m not saying that my childhood green scribbles were brilliant, by any means. I’m blushing just thinking about them. But that maturity is needed later, once the initial rush of creativity has settled down for a breather. I really think that if we can dig deep, and find the energy and passion that we all had before bad teachers, critics or just Mean People made it a bit more nerve-wracking to think of putting our work out there – then it would be a whole lot easier to find the lightness and the fun again.