Expressions you will never hear from me:
“Write simply for the love of writing.”
“If you love writing enough, it won’t matter if anyone else ever sees your work or not.”
“Write for writing’s sake.”
Wait. Let me rephrase that: Those are expressions you will never hear from me if you consider your writing to be more than a hobby. If you are a hobby-writer, please feel free to accept the above as my encouragement to you to carry on with what you’re doing. You have chosen an honourable hobby indeed.
If you do not view your writing as simply a pastime but are passionate about it and/or about being published, then you have my word. I will never expect these things from you.
I have been around too many writers who have agonized through their passion of writing and their desire to be published to ever offer such trite axioms. When you are passionate about something, doing that thing for the sake of doing it is not even possible. Passion will never settle for good enough. Passion can never be a pastime. You will either do it to make it count, or you won’t.
Therein lies the secret between writers who make it, and writers who don’t.
Here are the words from a writer I know, who is going to make it:
“I never used to get like this, never used to bother me, but over the last year the slog has been grinding me into dust.”
This is not the voice of someone who is satisfied to write for writing’s sake. These are the words of a serious writer, a passionate writer. Were he not, he wouldn’t feel so deeply the toll his slog has taken. Were he not, he wouldn’t feel compelled to share his passion with others through publication. Were he not, he’d have given up years ago.
Herein also lies the difference between play and work: A hobby requires nothing of the hobbyist. A bit of time invested here and there whenever possible and your hobby will flourish! No commitment. No responsibility. No sweat! Passion, on the other hand, requires something of the passionate. Actually, it requires a ton: Commitment, responsibility, and sweat rank in the top five requirements. And being ground into dust along the way is a very real possibility.
But passion is supposed to be good, isn’t it? It’s active, energizing, forward-moving, life-enriching. Why would something so empowering deliver such dire penalties?
Don’t blame passion. Blame the passion assassins. Their weapons are lethal; their movements are stealth.
Here are several I’ve personally met along the way:
and the list goes on …
I wish it were different, but passion assassins are here to stay. I’m sorry I can’t offer sure-fire ways to combat them, however I can suggest stocking up on ammo such as pre-determined lengths of time off, a change of scenery, good books to develop your craft, a support group, a critique group, a night out, sleep, a bubble bath, a chocolate sundae. A hobby. But only you will know what you need, when you need it. And you should allow yourself the space and time to do it. Because if you do, you’ll find that your passion will eventually resurrect through the rubble and kick some serious assassin butt. Passion is that resilient.
If it’s been fed. Here’s another bit of ammo to always have on hand: passion fuel. Don’t let your passion starve. Immerse yourself in things that feed your passion, things that energize you and encourage you and challenge you to become better. Due diligence in keeping your passion healthy when things are going good will help you keep your head above water when things are on a downward spiral.
If you’re disheartened, have faith in your passion and continue feeding it. You’ve invested too much to abandon it now. And truthfully, even the tiniest bit of healthy passion wouldn’t let you go that easily, anyhow. You’d have a whole other battle on your hands if you tried.
Oh, one last thought for my hobbyist friends: Although passion can never be a pastime, a pastime can become your passion.