In an effort to combat the dreaded Writers Butt, I’ve recently started getting up early and going to a gym again. This morning, I vagued out while on a machine and didn’t notice the woman waiting her turn beside me. I apologised and moved on (this was circuit training, where you’re only meant to spend a short amount of time on each machine).
“That’s okay,” she said cheerfully, “You were having fun.”
I raised my eyebrows. “I don’t think ‘fun’ is the right word.”
One of the gym staff happened to be walking past. “Don’t say that! Of course you’re having fun!”
I think I smiled at her. It might have been a grimace. She came up to me twice more during the session. “Are you enjoying yourself now?” Big cheesy grin. “You must be having fun now!” Knowing wink. It is testament to my tolerance for such situations that the woman is still walking. Still grinning. Still winking. And that I will continue to go the gym every morning despite her.
But no, I do not find it fun. And that’s okay, it doesn’t have to be fun. I get satisfaction out of a good workout. I like the feel of my muscles working and the energy I have for the rest of the day. I understand the importance of health and fitness and know that my relatively sedentary lifestyle means I have to address this via the somewhat ‘artificial’ means of a gym workout. That’s all fine. I’m on board with that. I don’t need fun as a bribe.
I think this attitude is becoming far too prevalent these days. Why does everything have to be fun? It’s so bloody infantile, not to mention flippant. There is a difference between fun and satisfaction, and you can certainly enjoy and appreciate something in a meaningful and rewarding context without necessarily having fun while you do so. I don’t think it is a distinction the gym staffer was willing to make, and that’s what irritated me.
No, I wanted to tell her, I’m not having fun. If I could take a pill or press a button and get the same benefit as working out here, I would damn well do it and save myself the time. I’m not here for the fun of it. But I am here. And you don’t have to try and make me feel as though I’m having fun in order to keep me here. Fun is not my motivation, but my motivations are sound and they will keep me coming back. So long as you’re not chirping in my face every morning, demanding to know if I’m having fun yet!
All of which made me think about writing on the walk back home. (See, there was a point to that diatribe.) For me, the act of writing is rarely fun. It’s difficult and often frustrating and it can be tedious and scary and occasionally soul-destroying. But what I do get from writing is satisfaction, especially when I find just the right way to say something or when I finish a piece that really, really works. Of course, there is a lot of fun that surrounds the actual writing. The spark of a new idea, the planning stages — when I’m really just playing around inside my own head without worrying about needing to find the words for it all — and most of the extra-curricular activities that go along with being a writer.
But the writing itself — the actual process — is almost never fun. Which is fine with me. Because it is satisfying and rewarding and necessary, and all of that is more than motivation to keep me going back to the laptop. Just don’t bounce around while I’m there, telling me that I must be having fun now, right? Right? Right?
Because I shall quite possibly stab you in the face with a teaspoon.