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Writing, Fun, and Compulsion

23:59 Fri 20 Feb 2009. Updated: 03:47 21 Feb 2009
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This evening I was asked a few times about whether or not writing was fun, and why I write. I’m not completely sure about the answers.

It’s clear that it’s not fun, in the usual sense, most of the time. The only times that it’s been fun have been when I’m in the grip of inspiration. That’s definitely fun, and is a wonderful feeling. However, inspiration like that only seems to come along once every few years. I know from experience that if I wait for inspiration, I just don’t write very often.

If writing were simply an activity I did for fun, that would fine. But there’s something else there as well, the compulsion, that drives me to try to write more often, to try to complete longer projects, to just try to get fiction done, and I’m not sure where that comes from.

There are at least two separate drives here. Both of them appear to be focused on writing fiction, on creative work; there are other drives for non-fiction, but the fiction is what I’m concerned with here. One is easier to understand, and could be the aftereffects of a kind of inspiration. This is where I have an idea, and am compelled to write it. This can last an awfully long time, as was the case with ‘Coup’, which was in my head for about a decade before I wrote it. For all that time it remained as a recognized idea that I was conscious of and knew that I should write. That ‘should’ is somewhat explicable because it had the weight of a solid idea, fairly well realized in my mind, behind it.

The other drives is harder to understand. It’s the drive to write when there’s no driving idea. The drive to write something even if I don’t know what that something is, or what series of somethings might result.

Another related compulsion, one I’m trying to encourage, is the desire to finish projects that I’ve started, which helps with the longer projects like the novels, and which can be coupled with the latter compulsion above, the simple compulsion to write something.

Beyond that, I’m not sure where the compulsion comes from, only that it’s been with me for a long time. Not my entire life, but probably my entire adult life. So, as usual, I should spend more time doing it.

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