I should tell you something about me, in case we ever meet in person.
I always—always—have a story going in my head.
Every day. It never stops. It might be pushed to the back burner in my brain, I might be able to smile and talk to you and be totally engaged in our conversation. But in the back of my mind, my characters are waiting. Lurking. Ready to jump out and surprise me with a new plot point, a bit of dialogue, or sometimes a new friend they discovered while I wasn’t paying attention.
Now that I’m working full time as a creative writer, I’ve found that this hasn’t changed. I think almost as much about my work on the way home—or at home—as I do at the office. I clock out and have my best ideas when I reach the end of the driveway.
“Passion will move men beyond themselves, beyond their shortcomings, beyond their failures.”
~ Joseph Campbell
Passion gets me through the hard days. The days when my outlines come back full of notes and with the dreaded ‘trash it and try again’ notice. The days when I have to choose between gas money and rent. The days when I sit staring at a blank screen for an hour because I’m drained creatively but have so many deadlines looming that I have to get some words out.
Passion gets me through the hard times so that, when the good times come, I can enjoy them.
Tips to Cultivate Passion.
1. Admit that you have more than one passion. I love writing. I also love to travel, cook, go hiking, and be a mentor. I spend most of my time writing, crafting stories, and building my platform, but when I am burned out, I know where to turn. A writer whose whole life is on the page is a writer who is headed for creative burnout—maybe permanently.
2. Know where you want your passion to take you. Are you a hobby writer? Someone who just wants to see their story on the page? Or are you looking for a career and a publishing contract? The approach for these two is very different. You have to know what you want. Hobby writing won’t get you a career. You’ve got to get serious if you want to live on your words.
3. Remember that passion isn’t always a feeling. Sometimes you’ll sit down to write and not care so much that it becomes a physical sensation. This happens to me more often than I would like to admit. And as a career writer with a full-time job in the writing industry, it really, really doesn’t matter whether I feel like writing or not. I still have to write. I still have deadlines and people waiting for outlines and stories to create. Just because I don’t ‘feel like it’ does not mean I can stop writing.
4. Stay focused. Passion, especially for writers, has to be there for the long haul. Set goals, know what you want, have a rhythm for yourself, and be hopeful. Passion isn’t fluffy. It isn’t pretty, or gentle, or easy. Passion is rock hard, cold steel determination that fights through the worst days because it is resolved to be there for the best days. Passion is learned and earned, and you develop it the same way you develop your muscles. By working hard, pushing through, and showing up when you don’t feel like it.
Good luck, dearest writer! May your tea be hot and your dreams wild.