When was the last time you did something fun?
I can’t tell you about everything I did for fun as a teenager as I’m sure I’d incriminate myself in some long-forgotten crime of youth. But I will say that when I got together with my friends, we talked only about having fun.
Friday night, Saturday night, summer vacation, skipping school. It didn’t matter when or where, the filter was always, “Will this be fun?”
And because of that (other than the times we were running from the cops—true story), we always had fun. Not always legal. Always fun.
We grow and mature, realizing that purely hedonistic fun can be harmful to ourselves and others. And those of us who haven’t matured now post viral YouTube videos of people jumping into a pool from a rooftop. But most of us come to understand the true nature of “having fun” where nobody gets hurt.
But we’ve lost that fun radar. At least I had for a few years. I’d forgotten that being a writer, an artist, a creative—it’s supposed to be fun. If you don’t enjoy creating art, nobody will enjoy consuming it.
After Zach and I did the first “Authors on a Train” with Lindsay Buroker and Joanna Penn, we realized how much fun we were having. I told Zach that I wanted to create this experience for others, and we’ve hosted two “Authors on a Train” events since then with our 2020 event almost sold out.
For adults, mostly Gen-Xers like me, “having fun” seems to need a justification that can be explained to a spouse, significant other, or a boss. There must be some other value in the experience such as something to learn, a chance at revenue, or the potential for exponential growth.
In all of our author events, we incorporate other types of value into the experience besides fun. But it’s not easy.
It would be easy for us to host a traditional writer’s retreat. We could have folks come to a cabin or resort, sit in a room for a few days, all silently typing together. These types of retreats are common, some are quite fantastic. But that does not sound like fun to me.
However, running the kind of events we do are risky because most of them haven’t been done before, and they don’t appeal to everyone. In fact, they appeal to very few writers—which is exactly the way we want it. If you’re in on the jokes, if you have the same definition of fun that we do, you’ll love the experience.
An example? We hosted Rock Apocalypse 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. Fifteen writers met at a private VIP room inside the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to build out a postapocalyptic world. Then, each of those writers began working on a short story for an anthology we’re going to publish under Molten Universe Media.
We did a similar event in Pittsburgh last fall called Night of the Writing Dead. Worldbuilding again, this time with a zombie theme as a celebration of George A. Romero’s classic, Night of the Living Dead.
This fall, we’re hosting an event at the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, and next year, we’re running Vampires of New Orleans in the French Quarter over Halloween weekend.
The further along I get in my journey as a career author, the more I realize that only the fun things sustain me. It takes a tremendous amount of work to be a writer and a host of unique events, and I won’t last if I’m not having fun.
The best learning, the most value you get from any experience, are ones that you think are fun.
For most of you, creating a fictional world full of zombies or vampires probably doesn’t sound like fun. But if it does, we’d love to meet you.
Each week in this blog series, I’ll discuss what it means to live the author life, delving into topics about mindset, craft, audience, finance, publishing, self-improvement, spirituality, technology, and more.
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