Monday, February 25, 2013

Write with passion

In Eugenia’s post, “The Business of Writing” she mentioned two authors who recommended writing 1000 words per hour. I thought about it for a while before I commented that sometimes speed sacrifices quality. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t crazy enough to try it. I succeeded in achieving 654 words within one and a half hours. I guess I could have written more if I didn’t edit as I wrote. But that is not my style. What I noticed though is trying to write for speed wore me out and pretty soon I was dispassionate about the words I wrote, and needed some space away from my manuscript. In short, sometimes speed not only sacrifices quality, but it sacrifices passion.

A few years ago I read a novella written by an author with whom I was acquainted, where everything sounded contrived. The plot, the characters, they were all words on a page that were written without passion and I as a reader could tell that the author’s heart was not in the writing. In communicating with that author I discovered that the author who had a demanding day job was given about a month to write the novella while trying to meet a deadline for a full length novel. The result: a contrived novella without passion.

So how can you write with passion? Well like any other art, a writer has to love writing. I know many people are wondering how authors can dislike writing. Well I’ve met many aspiring authors who misguidedly believe that there is bucket loads of money in writing and that is their inspiration. But just like acting, not everyone who puts pen to paper makes the big bucks. When the inspiration is to be rich or famous, the passion for the art can take a back stand. So in a nutshell, you have to love writing.

Another way to write with passion is to write in the genres that you love. I know it sounds cliché, but when deciding what genre to write, let the genre choose you. If you love a genre, you will be passionate about telling a story in that genre. I know some authors who make a business decision to write in a specific genre because that is selling. But if those authors do not have a passion for those types of books, it will ultimately affect their storytelling. So like a famous author once said, “Write a book that you would like to read.”

Finally, choose a writing style and a writing regimen that works for you. Some writers write by the seat of their pants. Others plan everything to a T. Some authors write the stories in their heads before ever sitting near a computer, others do rough drafts using pen a paper. Some edit as they write, others write free style and edit later. Some authors have to lock themselves in a windowless room to write. Others go to a lovely beach in Hawaii or a scenic mountain location to write. Still others write at coffee shops, in offices, on their beds or even while performing certain bodily functions on the commode. If you have a writing regimen and style that you enjoy, you will be more passionate about your writing.

Last of all, be flexible. Because one writing style, genre, or regimen works for you, doesn’t mean you can’t easily adapt to another. As developing authors we should explore ways to improve our writing. I say developing authors because no matter how seasoned, writers are always seeking ways to write better, write more efficient, write with more passion. The more open we are to new ideas, the better our writing becomes.

So whatever your style, whatever your motivation, whatever your aspirations, write on but write with passion.


William Doonan said...

I couldn't agree more, Jewel. If word counts were the end all, I would have about 40 best sellers by now. Unfortunately, I've written a lot of words that don't go well with the other words I've written.

Quantity is not a paramount literary goal.

Jewel Amethyst said...

William, quantity is definitely not paramount to literary goal and it does not equate quality.

I think it was KeVin who wrote a post once or a comment about "keepable" words. In a nutshell, he didn't just count words that were written in his word count, but words that made it in the manuscript after it was edited. I think that's a more meaningful goal if like me you edit as you go.

Liane Spicer said...

Agree 100%. There's no one-size-fits-all method for writers, as some of the 'rules' would have you think.

Julie Luek said...

Great advice here. I think probably each writer has to find a method that works for her depending on her final goals. But, for me, I would quickly lose my interest for writing if speed trumped passion.

Charles Gramlich said...

I just recently finished one of those books that seemed to be written without passion too. The elements were there but there was no fire. Your advice is absolutely right on, and without that passion I don't see why I should write at all.

The Divorced Lady's Companion to Living in Italy said...

I agree too Jewel. I also edit hard as I go and need a break every ninety minutes - even folding some washing! I'm convinced everyone is different and if the pressure is on, it doesn't necessarily mean that the work will be your best. Writing needs to evolve - for me on the page - and you need to be focusing on the material, not the word count. Great post.