Eat Pray Write: Writing for the Pure Pleasure of It
By Evan Marshall and Martha Jewett,
Creators of The Marshall Plan ® Novel Writing Software
As literary agents, we earn our living selling books to publishers. However, we are also writers, and know the pleasure and fulfillment writing can bring, regardless of whether anyone else ever reads it. Some people paint or do handicrafts purely for pleasure. It never occurs to them to exploit their activity commercially. Why, then, has writing become a business in which you’re nothing if you’re not “sold”? We think it’s because of media hype: There are riches there — if you can figure out how to hit it big.
This seems a shame to us. Writing is a craft like any other, capable of bringing the same benefits as any other creative endeavor. Psychologist James W. Pennebaker conducted a study in which groups who wrote about traumatic or emotionally meaningful events, as opposed to groups who wrote about superficial topics and omitted emotions, showed improved health, immune function, hormonal activity and other biological markers of stress or disease. For those wishing to seek these same benefits, we offer the following ideas.
A way to bond with family and friends and leave a legacy, memoirs may take any of a number of forms. Martha has created a number of “recipe memoirs” — brief pieces about people in her family, centering on a recipe connected to that person.
You’ll find information and resources at Telling your story, a website maintained by writer, editor and personal historian Pat McNees. See also Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler’s site, Women’s Memoirs.
On our blog WriteYourMemoir.com you’ll finds ideas for capturing your stories, from the abovementioned “recipe memoirs” to “magazine as memoir” and everything in between.
Journals and Diaries
Many diarists and journal writers find that even if they don’t share their work with others, they still find they gain perspective and greater control over their lives.
Writing to Heal by the above mentioned James Pennebaker (mentioned above) is a guide to healing pain with “emotionally expressive writing.” He stresses that the key to understanding and coming to terms with these experiences is storytelling.
In Writing as a Way of Healing, Louise DeSalvo recommends writing completely uncensored, recording every possible detail, which connects loss, pain and grief to an event and hastens healing.
Julia Cameron’s The Right to Write maintains that “All of us have a sex drive. All of us have a drive to write.” Writing, she says is a natural, joyful process that connects us to the divine.
The New Diary by Tristine Rainer goes beyond the familiar calendar-based diary to help readers clarify goals, focus inner energies, free inhibitions and release imagination.
Another method of recording memories is scrapbooking — the making of highly creative albums containing not only writing but also memorabilia such as artwork, photographs, printed media and small objects.
The website Memory Makers Magazine provides a wealth of free tips on scrapbooking and ideas for scrapbook page layouts.
For the more technologically oriented, My Memories Suite software helps you create and share “digital scrapbooks.”
Social Network Writing
The Internet makes it possible for writers to instantly share their work with readers around the world and receive their feedback. “User generated” content includes novels, poetry and stories.
Wattpad.com is an online community where writers and readers connect. Pieces may be read not only on a computer but also on mobile devices.
Textnovel.com is all about “cellphone novels.” Authors and readers share novels, poetry, stories, journal entries or whatever they wish by email or text message.
Fictionpress.com is a network of over a million writers and readers sharing more than 1.2 million original works.
Fan fiction (also known as FF, fic, fanfic or fanfiction) is a term for social network fiction written by fans using characters from their favorite novels. These works are rarely published for profit and are intended to be read by other fans.
Thanks to the Internet, fans easily share stories in every genre. FanFiction.net, widely considered the largest, most popular fan fiction archive online, hosts millions of stories in dozens of languages.
Have you ever found yourself dreaming up new scenarios for characters in your favorite novels? Try fan fiction; however, bear in mind that attitudes toward FF vary among authors. Some give it their blessing while others oppose it. Still others seem to turn a “blind eye” — not actively approving it yet not discouraging it so long as it is not published commercially.
See this helpful article by actress and journalist Racheline Maltese: How to Write Fanfiction: Tips for Writing, and Making Sure Somebody Reads Your Fanfiction.
The Internet has created new opportunities for pursuing all modes of writing for pleasure. But whether you go online or analog, the benefits of writing purely for yourself, rather than for publication, are limitless.
© 2010 Evan Marshall and Martha Jewett, creators of The Marshall Plan ® Novel Writing Software
Evan Marshall and Martha Jewett are the creators of The Marshall Plan® Novel Writing Software, an adaptation of the bestselling Marshall Plan® series of writing guides. Evan is an internationally recognized expert on fiction writing and author of the Hidden Manhattan and Jane Stuart and Winky mystery series. A former book editor, for 27 years he has been a leading literary agent specializing in fiction. He is the president of The Evan Marshall Agency, a leading literary management firm that represents a number of New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors. Martha is a former award-winning business book editor at McGraw-Hill, John Wiley & Sons, and HarperBusiness. She is currently a literary agent and editorial consultant specializing in business books. An avid memoirist, she blogs at www.writeyourmemoir.com.