Most writers feel pressured to
make money from their work. It’s no wonder, as our culture values monetary
rewards above all others.
Current research shows that three out of four American
college students consider it “very important” or “essential” to become “very
well off financially.” That’s nearly double the numbers from 1970.
Add to that the desire to “look
good” in front of our peers, the tendency to judge our writing even before it’s
finished, and the fear of failure, and you have a situation ripe for
discouragement and writer’s block.
What happened to writing just
for fun? Surely that’s what you did when you started out. Maybe you’re missing
that carefree creative feeling.
If so, below you’ll find five
times it’s okay to let your guard down and allow your imagination to run free.
1. It’s Okay to Write Just for Fun If You’re Just Starting Out
This is the best and easiest
time to write just for fun. No one is expecting anything of you. If you’re
writing in secret (and haven’t told anyone yet), so much the better, as no one
will know what you’re doing.
It doesn’t matter if you
publish, make money, or win awards. This is your time to simply write for the
enjoyment of it, so take advantage of it!
Motivating Tip: Realize that many experienced and successful
writers may envy you! Once they have publishing deadlines to keep, marketing
tasks to complete, and too much to do, many long for those early days when they
were free to just write without worry.
When you start thinking about
publishing and all the rest, stop yourself and take a step back. You have time
now to explore your writing nature. Allow yourself to fully inhabit this part
of your journey. The other parts will come soon enough.
2. When You’re Not Ready to Publish, Write for Fun
You may feel pressured to
publish right away, but no matter what your friends or peers may think, it’s
always best to wait until you have a lot of words under your pen.
It’s a more common mistake to
publish early than it is to wait too long, so don’t feel like you have to
justify the time you spend writing right away, or even within a few years.
Take the time you need to
discover your author’s voice and the types of stories you want to write. When
you are ready to publish, you can begin to pursue that goal, but give that desire
time to grow until you’re ready to face the challenge.
Motivating Tip: Writer’s guilt is an affliction that plagues many
writers, particularly when they’re learning their craft. You may feel guilty
for the time you’re spending alone in a room with your laptop when you could be
doing something else more “useful” or practical.
Remember that you’re writing for
a reason. It may be a fun hobby for you, but you may also be answering a
calling or following a lifelong dream. Honor your reasons, whatever they may
be. Writing is a beneficial practice for many reasons, and as long as you’re
enjoying it and are committed to it, there’s no doubt that you’ll benefit from
it, no matter whether you ever publish or not.
3. When You’re Stuck on Your Current Project, Switch Gears
You’ve been working on your
novel for a while now, and you’re struggling. The plot isn’t coming together,
or maybe your characters are acting, well, out of character. The pacing is off,
or you can’t figure out how you want to end it.
If you've been banging your head
against a wall for a time on your current project, it can help to switch gears
and write something different just for fun. Try a poem, a short story, or a
children’s story. Write a magazine article or a slice-of-life story.
Don’t worry about how good it is
or whether or not you’ll publish it. Allow yourself to write purely for the joy
of following your imagination, and see where it takes you.
If you succeed at leaving your
inner editor behind, you may discover the solution to the problem plaguing you
in your novel. It's amazing sometimes how loosening up your writing chops can
bring your creative muse back to the table.
Motivating tip: You know that if you spend too many days in a row
doing hard workouts, you’re eventually going to push yourself too hard, risking
The same can happen with
writing. After working hard on a project for a long time, you need an easy day
to step back and allow your creative muscles to recharge. Writing something
entirely different with no pressure to publish can help you do just that.
4. If You Don’t Like the Idea of Publishing and Book Marketing, Write for
Today’s publishing market is
very competitive, and it’s not easy to gain a foothold among all the other
great writers out there. Most writers want to try, but you may not be one of
Maybe all you want to do is
write your stories in peace. You can share them with family and friends, and
that may be enough for you. If so, there is no reason to feel like you have to
Motivating tip: Writing can provide several benefits to your life
that you may not have thought about. Even if you never publish or receive a
dime from your work, writing can help you heal, express yourself, explore hard
questions, recover from trauma, and reflect on experiences.
When you maintain a regular
writing practice, you may also experience other benefits such as boosting your
creativity, increasing your brainpower, improving your ability to communicate
with others, and getting to know yourself better. All of these reasons are more
than enough to justify continuing to write for the fun of it.
5. Make It Your Goal to Write Just for Fun More Often
“Is this book good enough? Will it sell well?
Will anyone want to read it?” Questions like these can leave you anxious and
stressed, and those feelings chase creativity away. Yet we often allow
ourselves to get caught up in these sorts of thoughts when we’re writing our
When we write for fun, on the
other hand, our work tends to be more creative and inspired. It’s when we get
bogged down by deadlines and marketing that we can start to write formulaic and
You need that spark inside you
to fulfill your potential as a writer, so whenever you find that it’s fading
out, make a point to do what you need to do to get it back. Often that involves
play, so go have some fun!
Motivating tip: Take yourself on a writing date. Head out to your
favorite park, café, library, or other location, armed only with your pen and
notepad or laptop. Allow yourself to just be for a few minutes, then write
whatever comes to mind.
Observe the people around you
and make up a story about them, or choose a picture you see and write about
that. Be outrageous in your writing and allow yourself to push the boundaries.
Go farther than you normally would, and just enjoy the experience.
When you finish writing, close
the notebook and return to your life. Later, you can look at what you wrote to
see if you want to do anything more with it, but don’t expect anything. The
exercise was simply for fun. Anything beyond that is gravy.
When do you allow yourself to write just for fun?
Note: For more on overcoming self-doubt and deciding to be a writer
no matter what, see Colleen’s new book, Your Writing Matters: How to Banish
Self-Doubt, Trust Yourself, and Go the Distance. Get your free
About the author:
Colleen M. Story’s latest
release, Your Writing Matters, helps
writers determine once and for all where writing fits in their lives. Her
previous release, Writer
Get Noticed!, was a
gold-medal winner in the Reader’s Favorite Book Awards, and Overwhelmed Writer Rescue was named Book by Book Publicity’s Best
Writing/Publishing Book in 2018. Her novel, Loreena’s Gift, was a Foreword Reviews' INDIES Book of the Year Awards winner, among
others. Her next novel, The Beached Ones, is forthcoming from CamCat
Books in spring 2022. Colleen is the founder of Writing and Wellness
(writingandwellness.com) and Life and Everything After
(lifeandeverythingafter.com). Please see her author website (colleenmstory.com)
or follow her on Twitter (@colleen_m_story).