Why I Started Writing What I Enjoyed Instead of What I Knew

Saturday, July 21, 2018
We all know the advice, "Write what you know." It isn't my favorite piece of advice, although recently I have learned to understand it better. I have learned that it's not just about writing about all those real life moments you have lived through, but it's also about emotions. We've all known sadness, fear, disappointment, love, and so many other emotions that inspire the characters we write and the stories we tell.

But for me lately, even that new level of understanding feels crippling. Whether I try to write what I know or what I feel, lately I just feel stuck. In the midst of an extremely stressful time, I prefer to escape into writing and frankly, writing from those raw places sometimes hurts.

I've started approaching my writing in a completely different way these days. Instead of writing what I know or what I feel, I'm writing what I enjoy.  I'm finally smiling as I write. I'm laughing to myself as I write out the scenes. This has made writing fun again. I feel like I'm a kid playing pretend all over again.

Will this story get published? Who knows. I'm not even thinking about it yet. Honestly, I'm just glad I'm enjoying writing again. Like, really enjoying it.

Have you ever felt stuck in your writing? Maybe you are beginning to hate that novel you are working on, or the article you are trying to piece together, or that short story that can't seem to get an ending. If that sounds like you, put that piece of writing aside. For now, write something you enjoy. You may not figure out what that is yet, but I encourage you to keep looking and trying out new ways to write. Try poetry. Try scriptwriting. Try a memoir. Try something you've never written before. Try something silly or something terrifying. Write what you enjoy. Write what you would want to read.

This approach may not result into a bestselling novel. In fact, it may not be read by anyone but you. Yet, I'm a strong believer that exercising that muscle of enjoying our creative work is just as important as exercising the muscle of discipline that sits us down in the chair. Both go together. Once I've begun to enjoy writing again, maybe I can finally figure out how to apply that age old advice of 'write what you know (or feel)." And who knows? Maybe that story I am enjoying will end up a bestseller after all.


Margo Dill said...

This sounds a lot like what I have been going through lately. I also recently started enjoying writing again. I had this story to tell, and I couldn't figure out a way to tell it, and I also wondered would anyone even care to read it?

But then I was inspired by so many TV shows (weird, I know) that lately have this format, where you learn a little bit about the characters in the present, and then you learn more about them in the past (think THIS IS US or HANDMAID'S TALE), and now, I am having so much fun. ALthough I get confused sometimes on my timeline. (I am about halfway done now, and I was thinking, I need to read what I have so far and maybe even do a little outlining to finish the book!)

But yes, I am not worrying about the publishing. I'm having fun. And I'm learning and improving my craft! And if I get it published, then at this point, that's a bonus.

Nicole Pyles said...

Absolutely! That is an incredible trick, to simply enjoy writing for a while. The one story that inspired me to simply enjoy writing has led to some others and I have them all bubbling and brewing in my head. When one story inspires another that has to be a hood thing!

Renee Roberson said...

I so agree with you. For the longest time I focused on writing nonfiction for magazines, blog posts, and longer works of fiction. Then this past year I decided to try more with short stories and have had a blast! Plus, I think it has helped me improve some hang-ups I was having in my novel writing. Now I want to stretch out and learn more about creative nonfiction, and am even considering one of the upcoming WOW! classes and want to find a conference where I can learn more about playwriting and script writing. Part of the joy of writing is finding what makes us happy, first and foremost, if we're going to spend so much time at it. Happy writing, Nicole!

Nicole Pyles said...

I think that's incredible! I hope that class works out for you too, I've been thinking lately too look into some classes as well, especially if it will help with my short story writing! Enjoying writing and having a blast can make the whole process more fun again! :) Happy writing to you too!

Sioux Roslawski said...

Nicole--A long time ago, I used to quilt a lot. It was a well-known strategy: when first quilting that day/evening, quilters should work on a "junk" project (an oven mitt, for example) to warm up the fingers. Then, we'd switch over to our wall-hanging or bed quilt, and our stitches would be small and neat, since our fingers were now in the groove.

Now, I know your joy-producing project--the one that makes you laugh and smile--is not a junker. And I know that Cameron's "The Artists Way" suggest "daily papers." At some point you might be truly lucky. You might end up with one publishable project that you worked on--and then finished--while you wrote other pieces.

And after all, life is too short not to seek out joy. Do writers get enough satisfaction and fun out of writing? Not usually, so get it where you can.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Recently, I've heard over and over again that writing fiction has a way to get at truths the way nonfiction can't. And I can see why! Because you can play with your imagination through perspective, characters, make believe places, etc to unearth universal truths that you can't when you're in one perspective: your own. I write both creative nonfiction and fiction, depending on what the story is, but all I focus on is having fun with my writing. I had writer's block for creative work for ten years and only found creative writing again about a year ago, so I allow myself to do whatever I want with or without a view for publication. It's more important for me to play right now than submit. I take a lot of classes, and having peer feedback is enough of an audience for me right now. So I totally agree! It's freeing, isn't it? Great post, Nicole. :)

Nicole Pyles said...

@Sioux - I remember reading about morning pages and I believe in that so much! One creative work encourages another! Just today I worked on another piece that I had been sitting on, all because I allowed myself creative freedom.

@Angela - oh I agree with that sentiment about fiction so much! And giving yourself permission to be free with writing is so important and that's where I'm at now too :)

Powered by Blogger.
Back to Top