Writing with Passion
By Diana Stout, MFA, PhD
The question for this month is: What genre would be the worst one for you to tackle and why?
I write in multiple genres. Basically, I could write in any genre I chose provided my passion remains high; therefore, there isn’t any one genre that would be worse than another, but It wasn’t always that way. In the beginning, I struggled in the fiction genre and had to learn how to find and keep my passion high for those projects.
I’m in a lot of writing forums online, where a good number of the members are relatively new writers. The comments I see repeatedly are:
- I’m bored with my characters. What should I do?
- I can’t think of anything to write about. Can you (meaning all of us) give me some ideas?
- I don’t read [insert genre, like romance, mysteries, sci-fi] and I’m writing one. Is that a problem?
- I only write now and then, when I feel like it. How do I become more interested?
- What must I do to write every day?
You get the idea. They sound a bit lost, don’t they?
I remember when I first started writing feeling that same way.
- I didn’t write every day.
- Halfway through a manuscript, I became bored with my characters.
- Writer’s block became a constant companion.
My one redemption was that I read a lot. Basically, a book a day, reading both fiction and non-fiction. And when I started writing, I was reading in the genres I wanted to write.
While reading can broaden and deepen your writing skills to a point, it’s about the practice of writing that creates the difference between an experienced writer and an aspiring writer.
Suggestion #1 – If you’re going to be a writer, you need to read more than just the genre you’re writing in. Read fiction and nonfiction, read how-to books about the craft of writing. Read articles and books about writers. Read their blogs. Read everything.
Suggestion #2 – While you’re reading, pay attention to the writing structure, the use of the authors’ words and phrases. Reread passages that take your breath away or have you nodding your head. What are they doing that you’re not doing? I learned more about how to write fiction by reading screenplays than I did by reading other novels. Be willing to diversify.
Suggestion #3 – Write every day. Every. Single. Day. Even if it’s only ten or fifteen minutes to start with. Even if you don’t want to do it. Just do it.
Suggestion #4 – Write every day using the same tools, in the same place. What you’re doing is creating a habit. When I sit at my desk every day, I know that while I may dink around a bit cleaning my desk and answering emails, I will be writing eventually. Even if only for ten minutes on certain days. Most days, once I settle in, I’m writing anywhere from 3-10 hours—writing new words, editing, or polishing.
Suggestion #5 – If you’re not interested in writing in your current WIP, then write something else. Write a blog, or a letter to the universe (no one in particular) where you rant about a problem, which then you destroy the letter afterward. Or better yet, turn your rant into a blog, putting a positive spin on it. Write a list of questions that you then find answers by researching qualitative websites.
Suggestion #6 – Have no ideas on what to write? Then create a list of everything that interests you, or list your complaints, list what you’d love to share with other writers, characters you love, books you love, then list why you love them. Guess what? In generating a list, you’ve spent time writing! Ideas will come from the list-making.
Suggestion #7 – Bored with your characters or their story? Guess what? If you’re bored, so will be your readers. When I’ve lost interest in my characters, that tells me that I don’t know them well enough, yet. As a result, I get stuck (some call it writer’s block) in my story, not knowing what should come next. It means, I need to go back to the beginning and add to their character development, dig deeper into their personalities, ask questions until they’re spilling their guts.
Suggestion #8 – Being stuck means I need to go back and create more conflict for those characters based on their decisions. Once my characters can make me laugh out loud as they dictate dialogue or because of their actions, I know my readers will laugh too. My characters’ ability to make me laugh or turn the page—no matter how many times I’ve read the pages—tells me I have found my passion for that project again.
Suggestion #9 – If none of these suggestions are working for you, have you considered reading my book, Finding Your Fire & Keeping It Hot? (available at any bookseller). In it, I share a lot of reasons why your passion has disappeared, more than I could list here.
This book was the foundation of a class I just finished teaching, and where students were saying that my book had changed their lives. They had found their passion to write again.
My desire in writing the book was to share with other writers the research I had done and the steps I took to find and maintain my writing passion, keeping it hot most days.
What’s your writing passion level these days?
- Cold and dead?
- Somewhat warm?
- Or hot like mine?
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting.