Lessons from R. L. Stine’s Masterclass #2: Write for fun!

1024 576 Siobhan O'Brien Holmes

I talked recently about my love for R.L. Stine and his fabulous masterclass for children’s authors and today I’m going to do that a bit more. For this post I’ve chosen a lovely quote from the course that really resonated with me, and I hope it will speak to you a bit, too:

Why can’t you just write for fun? Why do you have to write from the heart? I’ve written hundreds of novels and I’ve never written one of them from the heart.

 

For years, I was very self conscious about my creative writing. I’d pumped out god knows how many stories, poems and plays throughout my childhood (all pure gold) but as an adult, I clammed up when I sat down to type. I thought I needed to say something profound, to ‘bleed’ onto the page like the famous writing quote orders us to do. I didn’t have deep secrets or unique experiences I wanted to share with readers, so I felt inadequate, like an imposter. Writing was all about big, original ideas and I couldn’t find anything big to say, so I didn’t say anything.

I feel like I wasted so much time thinking like that!

If you have something profound or monumental to say, or you’ve been through something you want to share, absolutely write that down. But if you don’t, that’s fine too. We don’t always have to feel sad or angry to write amazing novels. You don’t even have to feel sad or angry to write sad or angry novels. You’re a writer – you get to make this stuff up! We can read, observe, interview, imagine, role play and remember those emotions into our books if we don’t feel them.

What Stine’s quote really says to me is that it’s fine to just write something fun, just for the fun of writing it. If you’re staring at a blank document trying to stir up some intense memories or wondering what your unique take on the world should be, just relax. Let go of all that pressure and enjoy it. Maybe the emotions will come later, or maybe they won’t. That’s okay, because everybody has the right to write. You’re not an imposter because you don’t spill your heart onto every page or because your prose isn’t as poetic or passionate or laced with darkness as the next person’s. The children or teenagers who end up reading and loving your book will be glad you didn’t write like the next person, because they like how you write. Maybe you’re really funny or spin a great spooky scene – there are readers crying out for those stories! So if you’re struggling to write from the heart, just start by writing for fun. I promise you are not failing at writing.

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Siobhan O'Brien Holmes

Siobhan O'Brien Holmes is a developmental editor working with middle grade and YA authors. She specialises in speculative and genre fiction, particularly horror, fantasy, mystery, sci-fi and anything with a dash of magic or macabre. She is a member of the SfEP, EFA, ACES, British Fantasy Society, Horror Writers Association and SCBWI. She has an MA in Novel Writing and an MA in Children's Literature.

All stories by: Siobhan O'Brien Holmes

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