WHY DO WE WRITE FICTION?
I have to speak to you from the perspective of a writer who loves this pursuit. Writing to us is a passion, it’s something we’re compelled, we have to do. We love it and it’s not work. At least that’s usually what motivates us. At least I hope so! That being said, what I want to talk about applies to those of us that write fiction, so for those of you that focus on non-fiction, this won’t apply. However, you still might want to read on, because your focus may change one day.
PURSUIT OF A DAYDREAM
We don’t have control of our dreams when we’re sleeping, at least we don’t most of the time. We also don’t usually remember them when we wake. However, when we’re conscious and may be sitting around, performing rote tasks, or even concentrating (yeah, multitasking), we fantasize. As writers, as often as not, this stuff becomes the seed for a novel.
Though this is usually assigned to the non-fiction crowd, there is nothing so far out that precludes fiction writers from pursuing their dream through an agenda. Whether it be political, environmental or religious (the most common I can think of), nothing motivates or inspires some writers more than an agenda. Their stories tend to be either thinly veiled, or out-and-out blatant attempts to sway their audience toward their way of thinking. This is usually bad, especially when it comes off as preaching or propaganda, unless your audience is built-in. I talked about that last week.
No, I’m not talking religious fiction. That fits under the category above, agendas. Being inspired to write can come from anything around us. It can be as simple as going on the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland and wanting to write a ghost story. Or, it could be reading a great detective story and wanting to do your own, even better. Or, you watched a movie at the theater. It inspired you to write a story that had nothing to do with the movie, yet it gave you the seed of your plot. It kick-started your idea while being something entirely different.
WHAT I HOPE
My hope is that whatever your inspiration and motivation is, it isn’t about making money. I don’t say that to mean you shouldn’t pursue that angle once you’ve completed your tome. However, that should never be your main or sole reason for writing. If it is, it will show. You have to love what you do, or what you write will suck.
Writing fiction should be an adventure. Creating your made-up world should be a pleasure, not torture. You’re creating a world of your own, something unique in the universe. This is the ultimate adventure and it should be pleasure not pain. Learning the ropes and getting your chops together does take some work, but if you are really interested in becoming a writer, it’s like learning to do anything else. If you don’t like falling off a bike to learn, don’t ride a bike. Ever. Quit and find another pursuit!
If you don’t write fiction because you love to, I think you should quit right now or at least re-evaluate why you’re not enjoying it. Maybe you aren’t cut out to be a writer.
For the rest of us, party on!
That’s why we write fiction.
(It should always be) Happy writing.