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Learning at its Best

I’m Writing for Fun

I knew it was worth writing when Micah drew it on our back patio

I sit at my keyboard, ready to start on a new section of a novel. What am I doing? Who’s really going to read this? Man, the premise is whimsical, silly, dumb. I’m wasting my time. A story about monsters? I should be focussing on my blog or maybe . . . 

And so the process goes until I am convinced that this work is a waste of time. I decide, instead, to pick up a book of short stories and immerse myself in Saul Bellow’s world. This process continues, not with one or two nights, but over a series of weeks.

I ask for some perspective, reaching out to a few folks I trust. They offer some great advice and help fuel my desire to keep plugging away. I write a few chapters, trying my best to find a voice that would suit an audience.

Then it hits me. I’m treating this as a project. I’m managing it like it’s a company. What began as a novel based upon a long, leisurely story I told Joel and Micah over a series of months morphs into a rigid, structured assignment.

So, I let go.

I’m writing a novel, not to be published or to be read by a large audience. I’m writing a book for Joel and Micah and for Brenna, when she gets older. I’m writing it with my own voice, in my own way, as whimsical as that might be. I’m writing it slowly and that’s okay.

Here’s what I’m realizing: Once I have the freedom to slow down, I write more. When I begin writing for a smaller audience, it appeals to a larger group. When I’m not trying to be creative or different, it becomes more creative.

In other words, I’m having fun. I’m writing because I love to write. I have no idea what will happen with this work. However, I’m not writing it for utilitarian reasons. I’m writing for fun.

– A post that has nothing and everything to do with teaching and learning.

About John Spencer

I teach. I write. I live. I want to do all three authentically.


7 thoughts on “I’m Writing for Fun

  1. Thoughts for me on reading this:

    (1) When I was in K-12, really high school (a long time ago: so long ago that dirt was clear; hadn’t gotten dirty yet – as I often relate to students or anyone), we got very specific assignments that always challenged me on topic selection, never in the STEM area that I liked and became my career. My mother was my savior for what was a really hard assignment for me, my idea person.

    (2) my girlfriend at the time and I were comparing our college experiences during the Christmas holiday. She told me one of here assignments had been to write a ten-page paper describing how a spilled glass of water dried. At the time, I couldn’t imagine ever being able to write that much about such a topic – she was a liberal arts major and I was an engineering major. Today, I’d like the challenge AND indeed might just give it a whirl some day soon – FUN now as the author says.

    (3) While an undergraduate student and even in my graduate classes (at two very well ranked universities – engineering remember), I do not remember any writing assignments that were longer than THREE pages. As an engineering faculty member, I realized how wrong that was, how much I and my classmates were slighted. I changed that as did most of my engineering colleagues.

    (4) I often think of Miss White, my high school senior English teacher, who did her best to help me and my “STEM” classmates learn to write well. Particularly when I was reading / grading project reports, I often pictured her looking down from heaven laughing as she watched me correcting awkward sentence structures, etc. I only hope she puts me in the “OK” column as one who eventually got it – writing is important to do well and it’s …. FUN,

    (5) I’m so excited to observe our grandchildren (fourth through nineth grade, five of them) working on homework writing assignments without any of the misery I had in K-12. Indeed, they often write without assignments, for … FUN! The youngest is even in an after-school writing club.

    (6) Finally, a thought on my status today. I find that only through writing can I develop my VISION of how newly encountered information relates to prior knowledge. And indeed, from the length of this comment effort, I hope that you can believe that, for me, writing is indeed … FUN! Thanks, mom, thanks, Miss White, and thanks to everyone else that mentored my writing evolution.

    Posted by John Bennett | April 23, 2012, 11:25 am
    • John Thank you for a beautiful reminder of essence of living from our own hearts, our own voices. So often we carry such censorship, or rigidity, or lines that we dare not cross that we are frozen before we begin. I have five children’s books in various stages of completion, all dwindled to nothing through the same process you were describing in the beginning of you post. I too pledge to let go of these nasties and let my voice and my heart write for the pure joy of storytelling. Thanks!!

      Posted by charles kouns | April 23, 2012, 6:03 pm
  2. Great post. Like you, I enjoy writing, and you’re right we need to let ourselves write for the “pure joy of storytelling.” Thanks.

    Posted by Maureen Devlin | April 23, 2012, 11:10 pm
  3. I hope i continue to be in that small circle! love your play with words and your stories for you kids. We need more whimsy and fun in this world, and all of our work!

    a big fan!


    Posted by dloitz | April 24, 2012, 2:34 am
  4. Keep writing for fun, John! Sometimes we need to let go of an obsession, a direction we want things to take, a goal, in order for this to become a reality. Write because it’s what drives you, makes you happy, helps you be creative. The rest is lagniappe!

    Posted by Elisa Waingort | April 24, 2012, 7:25 am
  5. John, I so related to this post. I published a book this winter and somewhere along the way, it became…work. People have said, “oh, you should write more about the work you’re doing now.” And I think, “Good grief, that is WAAAY too much work.” You just reminded me, I didn’t start writing because it was a job. I started writing because I just wanted to muse on my work, my students, my dreams, my beliefs, my ideals. You’re right. It’s gotta be for fun! Make sure you tell us when you finish your stories, so we can have the fun with you.

    Posted by sngrlittle | April 27, 2012, 4:04 pm

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