When you tell people that writing fiction can be both rewarding and draining, they generally seem to understand the first, then always look at you as if slightly puzzled about the second.
Draining? How could writing fiction be draining, they ask. Can’t you just write down whatever comes into your head? Isn’t it that easy?
Err, no. Well, I could write down whatever I wanted, if I wanted to make readers mad. And never have them buy one of my books again. Or just have them follow me into my own crazy world. (Side note – Alice in Wonderland, anyone?)
Think of it like this – there is surely at least one book you have read where it was either a long book, or had multiple books in the series and, after investing all that time in reading, you get to the end and…the author finishes everything in a rush and declares everything ended happily ever after or that the characters all went their own way.
And there you are left, hanging, wondering about the whole other part of the story you wanted answers to. You might even start wondering what happened to the writer at that point – why wouldn’t they take the time to finish the book probably? They were so close! It would have been so good, but for that finale!
Fiction fatigue. Or maybe creativity fatigue. It may be hard to understand until you have written a series with the same characters in each book or gone through a similar creative process, but once you do, you start to realise you’re getting tired of the characters and their plans.
Almost like spending a month straight in a room with the same person – after a while, you can’t come up with any more facts that make them seem as interesting as they did when you were first locked into a room with them.
But coming back to the point, writing fiction is not just draining because you have created original ideas in your mind. It is draining because you have to create andcommunicate them. And to do that well, you have to believe in and root for each and every character. The evil guy who wants to rule the world? You need to understand and support his cause! The minor character who doesn’t care about the main protagonist’s dire need for assistance? You totally get their perspective!
If you don’t, then the reader won’t buy into it either.
Here is another insight. Imagine if you had to explain every item you had sitting in your study as if it were new to someone else, as if (while you were out) your study came alive in your absence and became its own little world. Exhausting, yes?
Now imagine if you then had to describe all those stationary items talking and engaging with each other. If you had to map out their life span and continue to drive them towards their destinies… You would need to put yourself in each of their places and think as they would, and switch your mental mind set each time you moved from the stapler to the pen and back again. You’re creating the politics, the plots, the drivers. You’re thinking for several different characters at once, while trying to remain unbiased even though you know them thoroughly down to their very toes…of course it’s going to be draining!
So, yes. Writing fiction can be exhausting. Even more so, in my opinion, if you write ‘high fantasy’, where you create entire new worlds – e.g. Game of Thrones. Why? Because you’re building everything from scratch.
But what can make writing fiction particularly draining is when your fiction book turns into a series…
(To be continued in ‘Writing Fiction is an amazing experience…and an exhausting one!’ Part 2)