A short time ago I watched a long long interview with the Wizard of Northampton himself, the comics writer, Alan Moore. The interview covered a lot of ground but one point in particular stuck with me – have fun while writing. Now it’s kind of inevitable that at some point any project, especially a humungous project like writing a novel, can if you are not careful become a bit of a slog. But I think you have to fight against that. For one thing if it’s a slog for you, then yeah it’s probably going to be a bit of slog for the reader too. You have to make it fun for yourself and not let it become too much like work. Whilst it’s not going to be all ha ha, clowns and giggles fun* all the time I think you have to try and make it interesting for yourself (and of course the reader). Even if you have, say, a bread and butter scene were one character is just passing on a bit of information to another, try and do it in a fun, different and creative way. For instance in a scene from Iain Bank’s recent novel Stonemouth I heard the author read on the radio recently there was a section where all two characters are doing is telling each other what job they do now, but Banks makes it interesting for the readers by shoving in a lot of jokes in the piss-takey way that friends of ten talk to each other which I imagine was just as fun for him to write.
Another similar point came from an article about Alfred Hitchcock that I read recently. A co-writer was quoted talking about the frustration he encountered when he was in a script meeting with the great director and after the both arrived at an impasse over one point and were not sure how to progress the script Hitch just started talking about something completely irrelevant, an amusing anecdote that had happened to him recently. The co-writer was infuriated with this – what was the talking about? Why could they not just get on with the script? However he later realised that this was Hitchcock method of getting over the problem. It’s far too easy to get stuck into something, to worry at it, to keep working at it, to try and force an answer right here and now, when it’s much more efficient to put the thing aside and move on to something else, coming back to it later with fresh eyes and new ideas. Basically not to worry to much; don’t try too hard. Or even more simply, to just make it fun.
*a phrase I came up with to make writing this slightly more fun for myself.