Due to a technical issue, I recently transferred this blog to a new host. Please contact me if you find any broken links or other problems.

Did You Get The Memo? You Don’t Have To Write Fiction

by Jennifer on September 1, 2010

By Jennifer Blanchard

Last week on the Procrastinating Writers Facebook page, I asked the question: What is the biggest writing challenge you’re currently facing? Everyone who responded had a range of challenges they were facing, but one writer in particular was facing a challenge that stood out to me: She was having trouble just getting started.

I wrote back to ask her what she meant by “getting started” and she said:

“I just need to sit down and DO it!! I’ve been writing some fiction on a blog because I don’t enjoy writing fiction as much as non-fiction. It started out as an exersize for me. It seems that my readers are enjoying my fiction (which is a good thing), but I dread sitting down to do it. Once I get started, it doesn’t seem so bad, but it’s just finding the motivation to get it done.”

Something in her response jumped up and hit me: “I dread sitting down to do it.”

Why, I asked her, would she force herself to do something that she dreaded? It’s no wonder she couldn’t find the motivation to sit down and write.

There is a common belief that if you’re a writer, you should be writing fiction. But not all writers are meant to write fiction.

There, I said it. The truth.

Not all writers are meant to write fiction.

If you’re going to write fiction, you should write it because you love it; because you can’t NOT write it. Fiction is something that lives in your soul. It’s something that gets under your skin and makes you itch with the desire to put words on the page.

And it’s not for every writer.

Writing a novel takes a lot of hard work and dedication. It takes you spending hours alone writing. And if your heart’s not in it, one of two things will happen:

  • You’ll never finish
  • You’ll do a half-assed job

Not a good thing.

You should never force yourself to do something you don’t want to do.

So if you find the reason you never sit down to write fiction is because, deep down, you just don’t really like writing fiction, then it’s time to ask yourself one question: Why am I trying to write fiction?

Yes, admitting that you don’t really want to write fiction may be difficult, but once you acknowledge it, you’ll be able to see all the opportunities available for you to write what you want to write.

Now that your mind isn’t clouded with the negativity surrounding you not wanting to write fiction and berating yourself for it, you can check out other types of writing, such as:

  • Poetry
  • Song writing
  • News writing
  • Travel writing
  • Food writing
  • Writing reviews
  • Blogging
  • Magazine writing
  • Freelance writing

The list goes on.

Take this time to explore the other types of writing that are out there, and eventually you’ll find the kind of writing you are meant to write.

If you’re not enjoying writing fiction, and therefore can’t find the motivation to sit down and write it, there’s a reason for it…

Just saying.

Have you been forcing yourself to write fiction, but your heart’s just not in it? Please share your experience…

About the Author: Jennifer Blanchard is founder of Procrastinating Writers. For more great writing tips, articles and information, follow her on Twitter.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Bruce H. Johnson September 1, 2010 at 12:35 pm

All of us have creativity within us, even if it’s “I think green olives will go great with my butter pecon ice cream.”

I come from a 30+ year technical writing background and got into fiction writing into 2005.

A couple things I’ve learned over my 60+ years:
– Everyone has their own likes and dislikes — that’s an individual taste.
– We have “stuff” in our lives which frequently affect those tastes, be it “How Mama raised me” to bad experiences.
– Looking at a new field such as fiction writing can be a daunting task.
– Not liking a new field might well be not knowing enough about it and not knowing how or were to start.
– Fiction writing has a ton of material available on the how-to; that’s part of both the challenge (and potential dislike) and the attaction.
– One has to do a bit of a dive into a subject to get some idea of what it’s like, even if the first tendancy is “I don’t like that area.”
– Learn to like what you’re doing that makes you income (or “success”) or learn to be “successful” at what you like.

Personally, I have no taste for writing poetry. Probably some of that is I know so little about it. What’s a sonnet, iambic pentameter, etc.? Blank verse is the best I can do.

Yes, if you dread (don’t like) writing fiction, then the world isn’t forcing you to do it. On the other hand, your readers’ liking what you’ve done so far might indicate it could be a succesful field for you.

Recommendation: learn more about it. I notice on this block there are several references to Larry Brooks’ work (Story Structure.. and Three Dimensions of Character). You might grab Story Structure… and give it a whirl; you could find that learning more about the area could actually change your own taste.

We humans are rarely fixed in our beliefs and likes/dislikes. That’s the great part about being alive. As long as we’re alive, we should be learning.

2 iHanna September 1, 2010 at 1:59 pm

Oh, great point and great question! Why should we try? I’m not a fiction writer but I do loooove to write! Thanks for sharing that I’m allowed to keep going exploring my own writing. 🙂

3 jblan September 1, 2010 at 6:19 pm

@Bruce H. Johnson You make excellent points. I agree that writers should give fiction a try before completely writing it off. I always loved fiction, but thought I wasn’t cut out for it because I never wrote anything that compelling. But then I found Larry Brooks and discovered that my problem with fiction all along wasn’t that it wasn’t right for me or even that I wasn’t good at it. It was the fact that I didn’t know a damn thing about story structure. So yea, definitely pick up Larry’s book before you decide fiction isn’t for you.

4 jblan September 1, 2010 at 6:21 pm

@iHanna I do think you should try fiction, don’t get me wrong. But I also think that you shouldn’t limit yourself to just one type of writing. Try a variety of things and eventually you’ll figure out what your true writing passion is.

5 Elle B September 3, 2010 at 1:41 pm

I recently gave myself permission not to write fiction. I started writing non-fiction and it just felt more “natural.” I was fine with that and happy I’d made the discovery.

And guess what? I developed a burning desire to go back to fiction and now I have a whole new relationship with it. I think part of it was “letting go,” but the other part is that like you guys, I found Larry Brooks and realized I’m not a “pantser.” I like structure and that doesn’t make me less creative! @iHanna — he’s at http://storyfix.com.

6 Kerrie September 5, 2010 at 12:49 am

@Elle B: I did the same thing — “Let go.” And I just learned that I AM a “pantser.” 🙂

You know what I found? Some days I like to write fiction, some days I don’t. Sometimes I want to work on my running memoir and sometimes I want to work on YA fantasy and sometimes I want to write in the genre-formally-known-as “chick lit.” I have three WIPs and I work on whichever one I’m drawn to at the moment.

Also, I didn’t find Larry Brooks, but a friend sent me some outline styles to test out and that really helped me. I needed a “starting point.” One of them talked about using the act structure like a film. I looked up scripts online and read some from my favorite films. That totally helped!

Anyway, one of the non-fiction genres you forgot to mention was creative non-fiction. Think Jen Lancaster, “Bitter is the New Black.”

7 Laurie September 7, 2010 at 10:19 pm

This definitely needed to be said! I struggled in my “creative writing” class in college, and could not get through the exercises easily wherein I had to create characters and set up plot and all that… but then I took a class on personal essay. EUREKA!!!!!! It was clear from day one that I had been writing personal creative non-fiction for years and just didn’t know it had a name.

Now, to figure out how to get published… 🙂

8 Andrew Toynbee September 9, 2010 at 4:03 am

The problem seems to be that your readers like your fiction, but you don’t like writing it. So…you have the talent, but not the desire.
I agree with Elle B above -try working on that which you DO have the desire to write, but don’t turn your back on fiction.
You might find yourself drawn back to it later…when you’re ready.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: