Do you want to spark a passion for writing? This guide provides 7 strategies that will help you love the creative process. Plus, listen to an expert interview.
Several years ago, I was a washed-up technology journalist. I was sick and tired of writing about the news, gears and gadgets. My freelance writing career stalled and I wondered why I had decided to earn a living from writing in the first place.
Gradually, I found my way back to writing.
With a little help from some other good writers, I got into writing short stories, blogging, self-publishing non-fiction books on Amazon and creating courses related to these books.
Once I found my passion for writing again, my earnings increased.
Now, perhaps you're struggling with problems like writer's block? Or maybe you want to take your writing career to the next level?
Well fear not:
In this post, I provide 7 strategies that will help you find a passion for writing. They work for bloggers, authors and those at the start of their writing career.
- 1. Abandon Perfectionism
- 2. Experiment With Creative Writing
- 3. Let Your Writing Sit
- 4. Hire an Editor
- 5. Commit to Publishing Your Work
- 6. Refill Your Well
- 7. Take a Writing Course
- Find a Passion For Writing Today
- Passion for Writing FAQ
- [Interview]: How to Turn Your Passion for Writing Into Profit With Michelle Vandepas
1. Abandon Perfectionism
In a 1996 interview with WYNC, the American essayist and author David Foster Wallace explained the dangers of perfectionism:
“You know, the whole thing about perfectionism. The perfectionism is very dangerous, because of course if your fidelity to perfectionism is too high, you never do anything.
“….it’s actually kind of tragic because it means you sacrifice how gorgeous and perfect it is in your head for what it really is.”
I try to remember Wallace’s advice when I'm worried about the quality of a non-fiction book chapter or article. I also try not to take the writing so seriously. I can find mistakes, fix them and move on with my life.
Perfectionism is a dangerous myth for which productive writers should be watchful.
I hate to break it to you, but perfectionism is an excuse for putting off publishing your work. These types of excuses are indulgent.
So do the hard work and fall forwards.
2. Experiment With Creative Writing
I write mostly non-fiction, business articles, and some self-help. I also blog a lot about writing and other topics. I still occasionally explore more creative writing when stuck.
For example, I spent a few hours last week writing poetry and Haiku after taking a Billy Collins Teaches poetry Masterclass.
I've no intention to sell these poems or earn money from them. But they were fun to write and when I returned to a book chapter I was working on, I felt like I had more ideas.
You don't have to write poetry. Try short stories, novellas, or even free writing. Remember too that many creative writers draw from experiences in their own lives.
3. Let Your Writing Sit
When you finish a draft, let it sit for a little bit before doing anything else.
Tip: Use this self-editing checklist.
Leave your early drafts in a drawer and take this time to rest or perhaps write something else. Joan Didion, the author of bestselling books like The Year of Magical Thinking, leaves her troublesome manuscripts in the freezer.
She returns to them when feeling fresh.
I also like stepping away from a piece if it's not quite working. The best writing needs a little time to ferment.
But when you take it out from the freezer, ask yourself:
- Should I cut a chapter or expand a key point?
- Should I insert more research or write a personal story?
- What works?
- What doesn't?
4. Hire an Editor
Writing and rewriting the same articles, short stories and even blog posts is frustrating and hardly productive. By all means, fix the errors in your work. But if you feel blocked, hire an editor to read and review a sample of your work.
As a professional, they'll offer constructive feedback about what to fix. Unlike a friend or family member, they won't hold back because they want to avoid hurting your feelings.
After all, you're paying them for the advice!
You can typically find and hire editors of best-selling books at Reedsy. Hiring one will cost over a thousand dollars for a book. This is an investment in your writing career.
So, if money is an issue, ask a trusted friend, a member of your writing group, or an honest family member.
The only caveat is this person must be able to offer you candid feedback that you will act on.
Tip: Use a good grammar checker.
5. Commit to Publishing Your Work
If you insist on endlessly polishing and rewriting your work, you will delay your writing projects indefinitely.
This procrastination will frustrate colleagues, clients, and readers (yes, your readers!), who are waiting on you to finish your work.
By all means, let your writing sit, but you must publish it at some point.
Remember: there will always be a vast chasm between your ideas and how your words gather on the page. This chasm makes many writers and creative people feel squeamish.
It was the philosopher, Nietzsche, who said,
“And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.”
When I see my words arranged on the page, I remember everything has already been said and in more ways than I can ever imagine.
The gaze of all those more talented and creative writers from times past gazes back at me. And I want to jump.
So I turn away.
And I press publish.
6. Refill Your Well
Often lacking a passion for writing boils down to the wrong inputs. Perhaps you're spending too much time scrolling on social media or checking the news and email.
Part of the day job of most writers involves reading and taking in great art.
So, consider swapping out your inputs.
Go see inspiring pieces of art. Read best-sellers and great literature by fiction authors. Listen to music. Browse the book store for work by new writers.
A successful writer doesn't confine themselves to a single genre or subject matter.
Go wide and deep.
It will help you take your writing in different, surprising directions.
7. Take a Writing Course
Writers today can choose from dozens of great writing books that explore many parts of the craft. These books are full of practical writing tips and nuggets. But sometimes, you can learn more from online writing courses.
Learning new skills is an important part of the writing life. Particularly if you want to earn a living by taking your writing projects online. After all, you may have to learn skills like using WordPress to set up your blog or author website.
A while ago, I took a course in copywriting. It was all about the art of business writing, but I was able to use some insights from this course to improve my blogging skills. And some ideas even made their way into a book I'm working on.
Find a Passion For Writing Today
Don’t put off writing because of how you feel today.
Finding a passion for writing sometimes means accepting days when you feel blocked and uninspired.
Accept doubt as a natural part of the writing process. Put it in the drawer and let your writing develop. Then take it out and expose your writing to the world.
When you publish something, you'll quickly find out if you want to write a similar piece or move on.
Let them love or hate your passionate writing and all its ugly imperfections.
Images of David Foster Wallace remixed via Steve Rhodes
Passion for Writing FAQ
How can I write with passion?
Write to one person rather than many. Use personal stories and emotional language. Connect with your readers by being honest, even if this makes you look bad on the page. Get feedback from a more experienced editor and always try to improve your work. Publish early and often.
[Interview]: How to Turn Your Passion for Writing Into Profit With Michelle Vandepas
You may have heard the cliché about the penniless starving artist.
That is true to some degree however, it's easier than ever before to earn a living as a writer or creative, thanks to the tools and software currently available.
But where and how do you turn your passion for writing into profit?
Michelle Vandepas is the co-owner and co-founder of GracePoint publishing, and not only is she an expert in self-publishing, but she also helps many authors turn their books into published works.
In this episode, I talk to Michelle about:
- Why you need to market your book, not just write it and hope it sells
- Is writing a book the right thing for you to do to achieve your business goals?
- Using your book as a business card
- How to decide whether to self-publish or go to a publisher
- Do you need an ISBN number?
And much more.
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