Today I have on my sassy pants because there’s a messy task ahead. Oh it will be a TON of fun, but messy. We are going to tip over some sacred cows like how fun is evil and misery is awesome.
Granted I am from Texas and have heard stories of those miscreants who’ve sneaked (snuck? snucked?) in under cover of darkness to traipse across pastures littered with steaming cow poo…for the sheer joy of pushing over sleeping bovines.
I, myself, have never indulged in this innocent mischief and remain dubious this “cow-tipping” thing is even real. But supposedly the boogeyman isn’t real and yet–even as an adult–I never sleep with a foot off the edge of the bed.
I can’t see how tipping over innocent cows could be half the fun we hear it is, but I assure you tipping these sacred cows?
LOADS of FUN.
Sacred Cow #1—Fun=Ineffective Time-Waster
Remember being a kid and it was actually okay to have fun? Then something weird happened in adolescence and everything got super serious. Teens of course have hormones and the whole “forging a distinctive identity” thing to blame, not to mention *ugh* high school.
But what is our excuse?
As kids we longed to grow up, to be ADULTS, so we could be…FREE.
About that. We humans are weird.
Give us anything that might liberate us and make life BETTER, and we will quickly turn it into a soul-sucking chore. It is simply astounding all the stuff that is fun…that we RUIN.
Bear with me.
We might start at the gym because we know going for a walk is good for us. We also know the gym is climate controlled so we won’t be able to use rain or sun or wind as an excuse to not get some exercise.
We start walking and feeling better. Yay, lower back feels great. Thirty minutes. Happy endorphins and we are very proud of what we have done.
We bask in the glow of our one month of walking five days a week for thirty minutes. In fact, we feel this self-discipline thing really isn’t so hard at all!
A personal trainer notices we’ve been at the gym regularly and steps in to…help.
DON’T FALL FOR IT! IT’S A TRICK!
Sacred Cow #2—TRUST the “Experts”
Mere moments earlier, we felt AWESOME, only now realize how misguided we were. Oh, thank goodness this expert saved us from destruction!
The trainer, deeply concerned for our welfare tells us with all kinds of statistics and studies that our silly walking is not enough.
No, we must add in weight training. Not just any weight training. No, it needs to be high weight low reps. No, high reps low weight. Scratch that, high intensity!
No! You fool! You are overtraining! You need recovery time. Oh, you took recovery time because you can’t sit on the potty without a Life Alert bracelet? You’re just going to have to suck it up.
Did we mention your diet?
Remember, simplicity is KEY.
If you do cardio, eat carbs 90 minutes before aerobic exercise and protein 30 minutes before weight training. Then protein within 90 minutes after doing cardio.
Post-workout, rub your body in coconut oil (unrefined, of course) and stretch but only when Mercury is in retrograde–and within the 123 minute window after cardio–or the stretching and expensive coconut oil all a waste.
Got it? No. Okay, let’s create a plan for you. Mastercard or Visa?
The next thing we know this FUN time at the gym has now turned into a personal hell where we are prodded by macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients all using pointy vitamin-supplement pitch forks.
We cling to that trainer who saved us from our pointless 30-minute walks and toss money at her if only she can help it all make sense (or she will go away)!
More often than not, we return to our blanket fort…where there are snacks.
We adults do this crap ALL THE TIME. Hey I am guilty, too. We know as adults we should want to be better, do better and we start out well-meaning enough.
Yet we fall for it…
Sacred Cow #3—The More It SUCKS the BETTER!
From books on “simple home organization” to “better parenting” to “eating healthier” to “financial freedom” we generally tend to fall into this bizarre belief that the more it sucks, the better it must be.
Like the crappier food tastes, the healthier it is!
Soon, we start shackling ourselves to all kinds of bizarre and UNFUN legalism. We wanted to be free (of extra weight, too much clutter, too many bills).
Yet all these books and courses and virtual tools to save time and make life better…kinda just make us want to drink heavily and OD on brownie batter.
We soon find we avoid the gym we once loved like Ebola, are afraid of our mailbox, and with our spouse and kids? We turn into the HULK only meaner and in yoga pants (because those won’t split when we “turn”).
THIS IS A SPONTANEOUS SCHEDULED FAMILY FUN SESSION AND SO HELP ME YOU BETTER START SMILING OR I…WILL…END…YOU!
Hmm, maybe just me.
Why DO We DO This?
Much can be blamed on Western culture (Americans being the most guilty). Many of us are taught from youth that FUN=BAD.
We’re riddled with guilt about pleasure and fun (and sure, we can probably blame those sour-faced Puritans for laying the groundwork).
*stabs Plymouth Rock in my mind*
Yet kids are robbed of recess, daydreaming is forbidden, and only school-sanctioned imaginative activities are allowed (refer to why my son was kicked out of preschool for liking zombies). Put a kid in sports, gymnastics or dance and see how long it takes for all the fun to get sucked right out of THAT.
Why does all this happen?
Because fun-stealing is big business if we allow it.
Cruise lines can sell us a package of joy and harmony and relaxation. Then, the pharmaceutical companies step in to sell us the anti-anxiety meds required for taking a whole week off to have…*gulp* fun.
We return to our day jobs and 547 unread emails is our penalty for being so selfish as to believe we might actually need to rest now and again.
Maybe we should buy that app to check messages at sea.
Many Americans proudly wear the “I Haven’t Taken a Day Off Since Y-2K” badge of honor…even though we all secretly hate them and know if they took a little time for fun, they might actually not be such frigging jerks.
And Ms. I Never Take Vaca is there to sneer at us for our “weakness.” She embodies FUN! Because the sheer joy of leading the PTA, baking a zillion nut-free GF cookies, and zooming her kids to every social event imaginable is fulfillment in and of itself and all the “fun” required for “good mothers.”
*stabs her in our minds, too*
And Mr. I Never Need Holiday is there at work (where else?). He recommends the Intensive Weeklong Fasting and Time-Management-Leadership-Be-Your Best-Self-in-Less-Than-Nine-Minutes-a-Day-Retreat…which is of course, conveniently offered on-line.
Also, he can reach us every minute of the day via text or email…unlike when we were so naughty as to take that cruise.
It’s madness. I know!
Yet here we are. All staring at each other on the crazy train wondering how the heck we keep meeting again.
Follow the Money
Honest truth is authentic fun is not near the moneymaker as the “shill” of fun. Look at all those “activities” I mentioned that should be fun and who’s there to step in? Experts.
Who happen to make money.
Who can help us with our exercise, diet, meditation, and train our kids for the Olympics!
***Even though little Mackenzie just liked doing cartwheels and we thought gymnastics class would be fun—silly us!
When we were kids who simply had FUN, we didn’t count how many minutes of cardio we’d done riding bikes four hours straight. We gave no thought to the carbs or lack of macro-nutrients in that giant cherry Slurpee we inhaled.
Then we grew up and used our larger and more highly developed brains to think all the fun out of well…pretty much everything.
I see this over and over in social media.
The greatest tool writers have been handed to become free, is being used to enslave us.
“Experts” tell us that an author platform is serious business. If we’re having fun, then we aren’t being professional.
We need automation and vlogs and podcasts and to be everywhere on every site all the time contributing mind-blowing content for exposure!
*feels dirty inside*
Then there is the gathering emails, decoding analytics, sales strategies, promotional tactics, targeting our market…
Call me crazy, but does any of that sound like ANY FUN? SERIOUSLY! We all started this writing journey because we are the dreamers and find imaginary people more interesting than real ones (because they are). We wanted to write to be FREE!
To have FUN!
Granted, a brand is important and social media is vital, and selling lots of books way more fun than selling no books. But anyone who’s shoveling out manure from one of those sacred cows we tipped?
Refuse the Kool-Aid
On social media FUN is SUPER effective. People are drawn to it. The world is a dark and dreary place and getting gloomier by the second. Fun stands out.
Authenticity is priceless! We know it when we see it because joy shines bright!
It creates genuine connections (code for relationships). But here is the kicker! Friendship, trust, care, hope, joy and fun cannot be measured in metrics 😉 .
And when stuff is fun–as in truly fun–we ENJOY DOING IT. When we enjoy it, we don’t have to outsource it, set reminders or pay people to do it FOR us.
I am not completely eschewing all experts because um…that would be dumb. Experts who empower us are great! Who teach us how to set up properly to avoid injury, waste or pain? Yay!
But experts who make us into permanent revenue streams because they’ve overwhelmed us and made us hysterical?
Because many will convince us the more something sucks the better it works…but they (benevolently) have an affordable plan to deliver us from this suckage.
Blunt truth is if we don’t tip some of these sacred cows, it just leaves us the cash cow.
In the end, life is short. Enjoy it.
What are your thoughts? Are you like me and struggle with fun? Then try to do something fun and overcomplicate it and wreck it? I know I do. Hey, I am a work in progress too!
Do you feel like “experts” are constantly there to pounce on you and wring cash out of you? Do you fall for the “It only works if I am miserable”?
Hey I write this blog for FREE and constantly look for experts, but to stay on top of scm, trends, business, craft, I have to be SUPER careful. I strive to be better to help y’all be better and that is not always easy *deletes 765 unsolicited emails from experts*
I LOVE HEARING FROM YOU! And I am NOT above BRIBERY!
What do you WIN? For the month of OCTOBER, for everyone who leaves a comment, I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
To also prove social media is and should be super fun and that while you might need a little training, you DO NOT need a team of professionals paid to “manage your brand”:
I have two upcoming classes Social Media FREEDOM–Harnessing Passion & Creativity to Cultivate Fans & Harnessing Our Writing POWER–The Blog
I highly recommend you sign up for one of our upcoming classes listed below. ****Note, those who subscribe by email, the visual gallery doesn’t show, so please click through and sign up! We look forward to seeing you and serving you in class! Helping you be the best you can so your work can stand apart 😀 .
I needed to hear this.
I mostly love writing, even blogging. Twitter is okay. I still avoid Facebook.
I was looking at these massive lists of what Indie authors need to do for exposure, to sell books, and I seriously thought about giving up writing.
Not because of the writing, but all the rest.
It’s overwhelming. And, it’s all stuff I don’t enjoy doing and don’t really want to do.
Something to think about. Focus on the parts I like. The things that made me give up my free time to stare at a computer monitor. I can do that.
Most of that stuff only makes money for the promotional companies. Not saying all is bad, but there is a lot of simple stuff we can do daily for free that are FUN. A lot of that other stuff? Just pile money in floor and burn it.
This is a timely post for Me! Thank you for sharing. I’m tired of the work required to build a platform.
I write because I love doing so, and I wanted to share my work with others, which is why I published, but lately, it’s all become a job, and I feel like my creativity is dying beneath the strain of worrying about the “market.”
I want to recapture what got me started writing in the first place, back when I was a kid. I didn’t care about being a big name writer. I just wanted to dream up new worlds and adventures. Everything else was just a fringe benefit.
1. I can’t help it I come from Puritans
2. I’ve written 9 books and that whole, sneaked, snuck, snucked thing gets me every time
3. I’m so stealing your memes
Your blog posts are often so timely for me and remind me of things I know but sometimes forget. Thanks!
Yes!!! I’m sticking to the bits of platform building I enjoy: blogging and commenting on other blogs. I write about the sorts of things that I find enjoyable or interesting, hopefully in a way that others enjoy too.
I am, however, still working on reframing housework as “getting things the way I like,” rather than “here is a routine set of chores I must perform.”
Thank you for this! The ‘extra stuff’ of writing/platforming has been getting overwhelming (especially as I just dropped my laptop and broke the screen and ‘online’ has just gotten a whole lot more complicated!)
(Side note: Supposedly Minnesotans also tip cows- never seen it happen though. Big fun by us was the teenagers sneaking over to the church across the street and ringing the bell at midnight. Whooo. Hoooo.)
Okay — love it all! And the *stabs…* bits had me doing that cackle you hope no one really hears. :o)
I remember playing ‘horsie’ with my baby brother, me 8, him 4. I would sit with him on my knees, bouncing him and occasionally allowing him to nearly fall to the floor between my knees. Much squealing and laughing, until –duh duh duuuuuuuuh — the adult would enter the room and demand we ‘stop it right now!’. That was my first encounter with adult-no-fun-ness.
As a writer, I just want to express my creative juices. As an editor, I struggle not to strangle anyone else’s juices. Fortunately, I have fun doing both — I just don’t tell anyone…
My house sits on the edge of a pasture full of cows, and Teh Hubs raises them for a living. Cow tipping is totally NOT REAL. (But the jury is still out on the boogeyman. Also, sacred cows are fair game for figurative tipping.)
Writing is fun. Finishing a project is fun. Sharing on Facebook is (still) fun. And your posts are fun virtual butt-kickings. Thanks.
yes… completely get it…. was a dancer cause everyone told me to be one cause I danced constantly… and beautifully. I worked my ass off for years… horrible sadistic teachers… never good enough… after 10 years I stopped and never danced another step…. and now I write… and need to remind myself all the time that I’ve written all my life… for myself, cause I loved it. But it’s not marketable enough… not hooky enough… will never sell… maybe we get to a certain level with everything we do when it turns into a ‘career’ and we’re sucked in by the machinery of it all… Maybe Emily Dickenson understood it best … just keep on writing and don’t ever worry about publishing… just write… “Find ecstasy in life; the mere sense of living is joy enough.” E.D.
Crickey! This is so accurate! I live with the guilt of not taking vacations and not enjoying life.
What you’ve outlined here is exactly why I don’t belong to writing groups or even associate with writers other than in superficial ways anymore. How many times have I been told I’m doing it wrong, I don’t know the genre “rules”, been led astray by advice or straight up told “that won’t sell”. This “expert” advice always sucks the fun out of a project. And believe me I know because I’ve never been able to finish writing an entire novel. The “expert” advice leaves me feeling ignorant, belittled, insecure. Sometimes, I think these “experts” want to see us fail so we can keep coming back begging for more advice because they are supposed to be “experts”!
Recently, I’ve started a new project and only talked about it with my bff. And, know what? It’s so much fun!
Thanks so much for putting this into perspective!!
Today is a public holiday here in Germany. Thanks for permission to enjoy it! It’s not just Americans who think everything worth doing is worth overdoing, after all!
“… everything worth doing is worth overdoing…” Now, that line is FUN!
I *used* to truly enjoy editing books. It was fun! It wasn’t about money, it was about helping writers shine! I still love doing that.
But in the last year or so, I’ve noticed that more & more writers have become bitter/stressed/hypersensitive–and have taken it out on me. At the exact same time I’d be blasted & dumped by one author, two others were profusely praising me & thanking me. Simultaneously! So I know it wasn’t me. But I’ve been stabbed in the back by a few writer friends who I trusted–and believed we were friends, as well as by other authors I greatly admired…all so unexpectedly. It cut to the core.
Now I am extremely cautious (and rather scared) while editing. I still edit exactly the same, pouring my utmost best into each person’s work. But it’s stressful. All the fun is gone. In fact, I used to savor devouring books in my free time, but now I don’t even read for fun anymore. I just don’t enjoy it.
Writers, please remember: editors are not supposed to be your delirious fans and gushing cheerleaders, we are trained to point out anything & everything that doesn’t work. We want to make your writing as polished and brilliant as it can be. We are here to find faults–and that’s what you want. Of course we encourage you & tell you what works great, but the most valuable thing we can do is pick your work apart where it’s flabby & tell you how to make it awesome.
The writers who appreciate all the hard work I pour into their books (even if they don’t agree with everything or use all the edits) are so rare and so valuable to me. I’d do anything for them (and literally do). If you’re a writer, please be grateful for everything that people–editors, graphic artists, even family members–do to help you. If you find a dud, be cordial and move on. But remember that many of us are trying very hard to help you succeed. If you’re too stressed & not having fun writing, please don’t project that onto anyone. Find your FUN first…then you will be an inspiration and joy to everyone around you.
Here’s some tips I gave myself as a writer for establishing a good working relationship with my favorite editor and you might want to share it with the writers you’re working for as an editor.
1. I told myself that a good editor’s advice is precious and even if I hate what she’s telling me, I try to address all her comments in some way in my revised MS. I want her to know I value her work.
2. If she has made an explicit change to something I wrote and I don’t like it, I don’t feel constrained to incorporate that change exactly as she gave it to me. But before getting upset about it and ignoring her suggested change, I stop and reflect on the fact that what I wrote originally didn’t set well with her and she’s trying to help me to not have that same result with many of my readers. So I always come up with some compromise and make some change. So far she’s never been upset when I do this.
3. My editor and I don’t argue back and forth over changes. I would never get published if we did that. She gives me changes, I incorporate them in my own ways and we don’t discuss it any more after that. It helps that I know she gets true joy out of reading my books and helping me make them better. I realize I’m not a perfect writer and she realizes she’s not a perfect editor. She’s pretty damn good though!
Jini, you are a gem & an editor’s dream writer! I hope that everyone who reads these comments will take them to heart. Success comes by teamwork between two people with the same goal & mutual respect, even though they have different roles. Working together, they produce something more powerful, beautiful, and impactful than alone. Thank you for the encouraging note! It made my day!
Maybe you two should do a guest post for me on this 😉 .
I’d love to! 🙂
Must be a coincidence . . . I searched the Internet for a couple of good log lines to use as examples in a presentation, and I found two that were stellar—written by you in one of your posts. I’d heard your name, knew you were a writer and “author helper,” but I hadn’t taken time to learn much else about you. In order to credit your log lines, I visited your site and read this blog. That was even earlier this morning, when I couldn’t sleep, feeling stressed about all the stuff I need to do to prepare for a self-published book release. I’d tried relaxation in bed, meditation (& thought about medication), and finally dressed and headed for the coffee pot and the computer. Your timely post brought the joy back. Thanks for jogging me out of my idiocy and reminding me what this love of words is all about.
I am so thrilled my post could be there for you at such a crucial point! Great to meet you 😀 .
Love this whole post! Overthinking is my superpower, but maybe I can just learn, write, and enjoy the experience (while also having FUN online with my friends / tribe).
I’m all for simplifying. And eating brownie batter.
I’M IN A HAMMOCK RIGHT NOW–so there’s hope for me yet. There’s such a big taskmaster voice in m head every minute.
Hey! I descend from Governor Bradford; he was no Puritan. =D They came a little later and ruined those nice multi-cultural Thanksgivings for everyone. And so now we Americans work longer hours with fewer vacations than, well, anyone in Europe at least. That does suck.
There was a time our church did purely fun social events, and now it’s more like forced-fun laborious events, and I know many of the ‘busy people’ (like me) are tired of having to run the entire show ALL THE TIME. Yet I can’t seem to get people together just to have fun!
There’ always ‘too much to do’ or ‘I’m too busy’ and they can’t even think about sparing time to relax. It seems this is the way society runs as a whole, and frankly, it sucks more than a Dyson.
Is there no way to tame the madness?!? Can we actually have fun without all the rigamaroll??
Apparently not. Sigh.
If you need me, I’ll be in the sunny corner with my container of kinetic sand….
(Psst! Pick me and I’ll share my sand with you- It’s piiiiink!)
Hi Kristen, sorry I haven’t commented in a while. I’m just recovering from Hurricane Irma in Florida. I’m back to work now trying to finish my fifth novel which is in the editing stage now. Do you have any tips on how to make editing fun? To me it’s about as much fun as changing poopy diapers all day long working in a day care center. It doesn’t matter if I’m doing the editing myself or incorporating the edits my editors are giving me to my books — I just can’t seem to find any joy in it — which leads to putting it off and going to the beach. But right now it’s not beach weather so I have to face up to the task. How can I make it fun?
Break it into doable pieces. Set a timer then give yourself a reward for completing that PIECE. Everything is doable when you break it down into manageable bits. Aside from that? Play ABBA. Science proves you cannot be sad and listen to “Dancing Queen” at the same time 😀 .
So sorry about what you have been through! It’s been tough on a lot of us even those of us not in the hurricane impact zone. I had family hit by Harvey AND Irma. Just oy.
True science – smiles while listening to Dancing Queen on Pandora.
That and Bee Gees. Stayin’ Alive! Seriously the 70s were jacked with fashion and all on drugs but the best music for making you HAPPY :D.
I needed this. I’ve sucked all the fun I used to have while writing and filled it with stress. *kicks of the self-imposed shackles
Let’s have some FUN!
Loved this. I always feel a day late and a dollar short, and I’m running as fast as I can. I’ve spent so much money with experts and have been taken to the cleaners by them. I came to the realization that I’m getting pretty long in the tooth and I’m missing the sunshine. Finishing the chapter is great. Being productive is wonderful, but so is living before I die.
Spontaneity and fun seem to go hand in hand. Some of my happiest times were not been planned. Like my 90ish mother-in-law, also known as “Reno Red” says, ‘you only live once, honey, enjoy it as much as you can.’ Great post. Thank you.
Are you serious Kristen? Lora and I communicated about this today and we would both love to do this. She’s right in what she posted above. A writer, no matter how good, will never publish anything worthwhile unless s/he listens to and cooperates with a good editor who loves her story and wants to make it even better. An editor, no matter how skilled and experienced, will never amount to much without the cooperation of a writer who is willing to work with her as a team, productively, shedding ego involvement.
This is so me! It’s taken me decades to realize that it was okay to have fun while writing – and that it was also okay to turn that fun “chore” into a job and still have fun doing it! Thanks for writing this!
“Oh, you took recovery time because you can’t sit on the potty without a Life Alert bracelet?” Hilarious! So is “*stabs Plymouth Rock in my mind*” and those are just a couple examples of FUN in this post. Fun, fun, fun is a necessity. I’m a firm believer in fun. I guess that’s why I admit I’m a goofball. Goofballs seem to attract other goofballs. Goofball + goofball = fun, fun, fun. Your posts are always fun!
The cure for all of this is critical thinking. I could explain it in detail, but I don’t want to write a self help book. If you don’t have the force of will no amount of reading can help.