How what we enjoy shapes how we write.


Believer in flawed heroes
Nov 4, 2010
I started writing a door stopping wedge of a sci-f
Today's random thought.

Do we write fast first drafts then rewrite a lot? Do we perhaps outline more, and write slower drafts, rewrite less?

I think a lot of this, perhaps more than we realise, comes back to what we enjoy. Obviously, we'd probably all say we're into plot AND character AND craft AND world building/setting. But we'll all have a unique balance, in terms of how much we enjoy each.

Personally, I just ENJOY the craft. I really love the luxury of playing around with the sentences and the language. So stampeding through a first draft makes no sense.
I'm the same way. Or becoming more so of writing slower and thinking longer when writing my drafts but taking my time in rewriting too. The writing seems to be coming along quicker and I'm starting to look forward to the rewriting. A cooperation of me writing my story idea and the story writing itself. A give and take of the two, if you will. Developing the art of crafting a story perhaps?

So many story ideas to play with, so little time to work on my own novels! Go figure...
I can't say I enjoy it. Writing takes up so much of my time and attention, it would be strange for me to feel the same way for hours a day, year after year. There are *times* when I enjoy it. No, rather, there are times when I feel good about my writing, feel satisfaction in work done well.

I know I've quoted this before, but it's just about my favorite observation about writing. I hate writing, but I love having written.
I found that dialogue is the thing i love writing. Scene descriptions, setting, broad, here's what people are wearing and here's the colors and whatever, tends to bore me--but also, that's the stuff that helps shape a character and shape a personality. Finding a setting is really hard for me. Finding a character's voice--their word choice, dialect and cadence--i love that stuff and it's how i find my way into a character. It's annoying to go, OH, that is this character, and then struggle to find where to put them.
I tend to gravitate first to dialog (when writing). I pay close attention to this because I easily wind up with a series of white rooms. For me, writing the dialog in a scene is akin to putting down a base layer of paint, or creating the basic shape in a sculpture. It's how I get the parameters of the scene.

Next will come adding in some actions within that dialog, whether it's as simple as pacing or changing position, or something bigger. Details of the physical space tend to come last, as I see a need to know or as something physical affects the action or mood. I find it difficult to start into a scene by describing the people or the setting first. The finished product might start that way, but that portion probably got written rather late.

But do I enjoy it, as in does it bring me joy? No. It's more like work. Sometimes I'll get in the groove and words flow in a fairly successful way (read: requires little revision), but as for joy or even its more modest cousin, pleasure, naw. I can say that with some confidence because I also play music, and while playing I can definitely feel joyful. But when I am composing music, when I'm working on the tune, well there's the operative verb right there: work. It's head down, concentration, attention to detail, crafting, building; in a word, work. Writing is very much an act of composition.

For me, for me. Always and ever that caveat. I recognize the mileage others get may vary, to counterfeit a phrase.
I tend to put more into emotion and description. I know my characters personalities and try to incorporate that into dialoged, but for me it's a personal block and nothing to do with my writing skills. Though I am getting better, I have a long way to go in improving in my writing skills and well keep going at it. I have a trilogy to write after all!
I will have an ‘idea’, which can lead to 10-15k (unplanned) words, but then a pause/hiatus unless the ‘idea’ contained a number of narrative steppingstones- such that I’m kind of joining the dots. For me the act of writing, developing (discovering) the plot - including rewriting sections and dumping alternative ways of reaching the next stage - are what I enjoy. Editing I find unappealing, as it can be endless tweaking. The main reason I turned to self-publishing, or submission to an on-line periodical, was to draw a line under a story, so I could move on.

As I write almost exclusively in first person the main character is ‘me’ to a greater or lesser degree, placed in a situation and trying to cope. A couple of characterisations I’ve enjoyed to the extent they they now crop up as ‘independents’, with lives of their own.

I can enjoy a turn of descriptive phrase, and the rhythm, the interplay of dialogue - especially when both characters think they know what they’re talking about. I’m a fan of David Mamet and Elmore Leonard in this respect.

For me, enthusiasm is key.
I hate starting writing. I love the part that comes after that, when the words are flowing and the story is emerging. I like that bit especially when I convince myself not to worry that the words aren't to the standard I want them to be,
@msstice I agree with you; same here. More because of my Dyslexia and how bad it is. A little though but a lot of time in writing it. All I can do is guide how it goes. And even then, I'll get tangled up at times.
Dialogue is the most enjoyable for me to build. I can visualize the scene/emotions much better if people are having a conversation. Makes the experience of writing more like an actual reading because things naturally unfold. Still a work-in-progress trade, but I love (almost)every minute.
Interesting thoughts and practices; nice thread!

One of the recent things I’ve learnt about ADHD is super focus. And a sort of — I don’t know what to call it — intuition (?).

I’m mostly inspired by tone or feel. I can just get this awful obsession with writing a certain tone and can’t concentrate till it’s on paper.

I love E M Forster and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. At the mo I’m reading the complete works of STC and Forsters A Passage to India. It’s torture because I keep reading lines (esp with Coleridge) and have to get up and write something.

My last 300 word entry was heavily influenced by a Coleridge poem and inspired me to write my own (prob doggerel not poetry) to get across a sense of anguish from my character.

I often dream certain lines and/or stories — I can wake up with some bizarre nonsensical phrase that seems so important. That can be quite troubling because you think you’re going doolally.

I think that although I write modern spec fic with á supernatural element, I’m far more influenced by the likes of M R James or the two I mentioned above.

Weird that I love to read and write horror and weird fiction yet my influences are stuffy old literature.

Personally I love writing a story, so yes I will rush out a first draft, or as much of one as I can manage, and later start rewriting and editing. My goal is to write a good story, one that I want to read. But at some point in the writing process I begin doing some basic rewriting, simply because I have to. I'll also create a data file about the story - usually about 20k in. So this is characters, places, a timeline of the plot and notes and so on. That way as I continue to write I have something to fall back on - and if I want to add a new plot point or character or what have you, I can go through the story and just make all the changes I need to. I guess that this is simply pantster mode. Writing flat out and fixing things as I go.

As to writing what I enjoy, absolutely. But one thing, I've always liked detective works, but I've only started writing detective stories about a year ago, though I've been writing for a dozen years. Don't know why. I just started writing them. Maybe my muse had some sort of breakdown!

Cheers, Greg.
I love free writing, and hate structuring. I started as a pantser but think the next project I write will be much more enjoyable for having been planned more (I'm doing the work after draft 1 that I would likely try to do at least partly before it next time). @psychotick I have turned to writing a mystery because all my non mysteries ended up with bodies in them...
Personally, I just ENJOY the craft. I really love the luxury of playing around with the sentences and the language. So stampeding through a first draft makes no sense.
While there is nothing wrong with taking time to think--I find that I can begin to overthink and then never write anything.
I tend to wait for the craftiness when I have something on paper and I'm going through for the first few edits.
Thanks for all the fascinating responses. I think all this just underlines the point: we all enjoy some aspects of writing (or the having written) more than others, and as such we adopt a different approach and pace accordingly. And that's great. The one rule is that the novel (or story) gets done. The process (fast first draft or not, some rewriting along the way or not, outline or not) varies according to how our brains are wired and according to taste.

There are different kinds of enjoyment. Sure, writing can be very hard. As someone with dyslexia, I have times when it's agonising. But there's a purpose and a fulfilment, which provides a real joy even if it's nothing like the "hedonistic" kind of happiness that comes from a good book, a film, great food, or whatever.

When the writing is going somewhere, I do just love the craft. Just being in the moment and getting lost in the words, the characters, the world, the story.
In a way I can’t plan or it doesn’t get written. There have been a few ideas I developed, crafted, edited, all in my head, such that ‘all’ I had to do was write the narrative down, but it never happened. Finishing the story to my own satisfaction ticked some internal box and that was enough to dissipate my enthusiasm. Ho hum.
For me, the plot is rarely the most interesting part of a story. As a reader, I'm more focused on characters, relationships, situations, ideas, description, dialogue and worldbuilding. To me, the plot is just a (usually pretty hackneyed) framework to hang the good stuff on.

Guess what I have trouble writing?