Saturday, September 23, 2006

How Passion Informs Writing

Kelly has a point. When I said that anyone can learn to write, I neglected one important factor: passion. I still maintain that *anyone* can develop an ear and the skills to become a published writer. However, the reason that most people don’t is because you also need an intense drive to succeed. In fact, I think that beyond acquiring the necessary skills, having the hunger (and the corresponding discipline) is really key to publishing success.

You really have to want it.

You have to want to be published so much that you can put up the crushing rejections that are part and parcel of the game. Worse, you not only have to put up with them, you have to be willing to put ego aside and learn from them.

This is one of the reasons I think that writers groups are so valuable. They’re a training ground for pain -- the personal pain of hearing that this intellectual baby of yours is not, in point of fact, perfect. As an aside, I think that one of the reasons that people who are trained in theatre often have the temperament for the writing life is that you learn early in your career as an actor that even as the "star," there is ALWAYS room for improvement. It’s a weird kind of ego you develop. It’s one that alternately _believes_ you’re a genius and a diva, but at the same time knows you can always strive for a better performance.

Anyway, you need to really, really want to be a writer in order to succeed. Someone who really desires it, for instance, makes time for it. Thinking back to Naomi’s blog about her life with two kids, you have to realize that Naomi writes because carves time out of her hectic life to do it. That’s why I have very little patience for students who say to me, “I want to write, but I just need to...” (clean my office space, get the right job/computer/notebook, wait for my inspiration to hit....fill in other excuse.) There are, of course, legitimate excuses for not being able to write, but I know one writer who learned voice recognition softwear because her carpel tunnel/tendonitis was so bad she couldn’t type. I also know a professional writer who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, who is still making deadlines. These are extreme examples, but they make anyone (even me) feel like an underachiever. That’s not the point, the point is, they want this THAT bad. That kind of passion should be an inspiration.

So, what’s stopping you?

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