Tuesday, December 04, 2007

"Fun! ... The New Core Value"

Inc. Magazine for entrepreneurs (and surely that category includes artists) has dedicated a recent issue to making work fun. "Give your company a merriment makeover," the cover advises.

I rediscovered writing as fun last month when I took a two week vacation. In the second week, I began writing an essay that I wanted to write, whether there was a market for it or not. I mentioned this at the time. I had a gloriously fun time writing it. No sense of deadline or meeting market requirements. No sense that I had to finish it. It refreshed me for returning to work on my larger years-long projects.

That essay may or may not see the light of day. The New York Times magazine "Lives" editor liked it very much but said that the piece, which is very timely, came in too late for their schedule.

Even so, I'm delighted that I wrote it. It's one of the pieces I'll look back on with delight. I'll think at least get it into an anthology somewhere some day. It made me a good contact at the Times magazine. And it excited me again about my other writing.

The founder and CEO of a $76 million company (somewhat larger than my writing enterprise)described in Inc. a fun thing he did that was linked to an important purpose. He told an employee whose health was at serious risk that if he'd lose 70 pounds, then the whole management team would dress as superheroes for a day, without explaining their costumes to customers, staff, or anyone at all.

With that enticement the man lost the 70 pounds and Jonathan Bush, creator of Athenahealth, wore a top-to-toe Batman costume while giving a presentation to a huge business prospect. He said never a word about why he'd dressed that way. The company got the customer. "You can take fun pretty far," Bush says, "before it stops serving the mission."

What are some ways that a writer can have fun and refresh the creative juices? Examples:
*reading someone else's wonderful work
*taking a break
*writing with a friend
*taking part in a group effort, like the 20+ author "story" that emerged from a beach weekend I attendeded
*writing faster...or slower
*take on a challenge...like the NaNoRiMo project, where each writer turns out a draft of a novel in 30 days
*write a bit of whimsy that you're sure no one will ever want
*dig deeper, deeper into an already rich character
*write a sketch from the point-of-view of the next person who crosses your path
*throw a kink into the story you're working on (you may be surprised to discover that it's integral)

Got ideas? What has worked for you?

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billie said...

I always have fun with the writing part - at this point, my enjoyment of the craft and magic of fiction is the sole reward for doing it.

I've often wondered if that will change when the books get published and I'm writing on a deadline.

I do have to get creative about making the tasks fun that are associated with the path to publication. Querying, waiting, etc.

Thus far my solution has been to do more writing!

Debra w said...


Great post! I would love to read the article that you are referring to. I do hope that it is published somewhere, someday!

I am not a published writer, but one of the things that I sometimes do to get the creative juices flowing is to make a collage out of magazine clippings. I cut out words, or pictures, or colors that appeal to me, and paste them on paper. When I feel like I am finished, I often end up with a theme that sometimes leads to other notions. If nothing else, this can be a stress-reducer.

I really like the list that you posted here. Lots of great ideas!

Peggy said...

I also like to cut out pictures, Debra. And I envy you, Billie, in always enjoying the writing. I can't say that I always do. Sometimes it's a high and sometimes a slog.