Jan here, writing to you today about writing craft, with a focus on keeping the fun in writing.
Recently I had a conversation with writer, Nancy Sanders, who encourages those she mentors to take time each week to set aside deadlines and write whatever they feel like. I see merit in that. Oftentimes we do enjoy what we are currently writing for publication, but it might do our writing some good if we took regular time to write something just because we want to.
This post is dedicated to writing for the fun of it.
I think of one favorite poem called I Like Words, by Margaret Caskey. Caskey playfully describes words as silvery like delicate wind chimes, or eager and impetuous as they come racing and tumbling over each other, or comfortable like a cat upon a hearth. She ends her poem with “I like words. The empty white of paper catches at my pen in an insistent plea to be peopled.”
In the midst of deadlines we can lose that playfulness. If we’re not careful, we might begin to resent writing instead of enjoying it. It becomes a drudgery. If even for fifteen minutes or half an hour each week, taking time to write for enjoyment can take us back to what we loved about writing in first place—the enjoyment of playing with words, of seeing them come alive on our pages in unexpected ways.
How you do that will be entirely unique to you, but here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Pull out an old piece you enjoyed writing and play with it some more. Take it in a surprising direction.
- Write a letter to someone. Make it playful, reflective, encouraging—writing what you are sure would touch that person’s heart.
- Remember a favorite writing exercise? Try it again, but take it in a fun new directions. (One of my old favorites from a writing class taken long ago involved going somewhere where I could observe what is going on around me. I was to pay specific attention to my senses and write a sensory piece bringing in all that I was experiencing.)
- Write in a different genre than usual. Maybe the one you thought you’d do when you ‘grew up’, or the one you hope to one day try.
- Write about your goals and dreams—writing or otherwise.
- Write a love letter to someone or to God.
- Consider where you feel stuck in writing or in life. Create a picture of what that’s like and write your way to a better place.
- Choose a sentence from your journal or other writing you’ve done. Begin there and write a short article or create a character and write a story.
- Peruse a newspaper or magazine and choose an article. Rewrite it in your style, better than the original author. (Ben Franklin used to do this!)
- Think of a memorable event that happened in your family. Write about it for your children or for someone else who would appreciate knowing or remembering the story.
Warning: Participating in these activities can be addictive. Side effects include increased production of endorphins and brain cells. In some cases, this may produce stronger writing skills and clarification of personal writing style, which may impact your work.
A question for you: How do you stay in touch with your enjoyment of writing? (Or if you haven’t lately and want to, how would you choose to have fun with writing?)
Jan writes nonfiction from her home in the foothills of the California Sierras. She is currently adding to her Live Free series for the teen/ya audience and also enjoys life coaching and mentoring writers. Visit her site at www.jankern.com.