I have a knack for turning play into work. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could switch that around? Earlier in my life, writing was play, but now that I think of myself as an author, writing and editing have become a burden. This is not as it should be.
In my high school speech & debate years, one of the important lessons I learned was that if you want to give your best performance, don’t try to. Consciously trying to perform well takes away the joy and experience of the performance itself, for both performer and audience. If you want to perform well, the key is to forget you’re performing. You’re playing. If you’re having the time of your life, or simply enjoying yourself and reveling in your activity, your audience will be able to share.
The same is true of writing. Consciously try to do your best, and you cripple yourself. The key to excellence is a willingness to experiment and play and enjoy your work. Remember how your writing was once play, not a chore, and make it into play again.
I’m doing this by setting aside 15 minutes a day, no more nor less, to play with words. No expectations, no word count, nothing but freedom to enjoy myself and remember how wonderful writing once was to me, and still is.
“Yes, I’ve made a great deal of dough from my fiction, but I never set a single word down on paper with the thought of being paid for it … I have written because it fulfilled me … I did it for the buzz. I did it for the pure joy of the thing. And if you can do it for joy, you can do it forever.”