“The most important element is passion.”
Those are the first words I heard when I turned on the radio this morning. The announcer was speaking of music, but the same applies to all walks of life, whether it be career, sports, relationships or hobbies. I’m watching The Brier (the national championship for men’s curling in Canada). One of my favourite teams has had a poor year, losing many matches. But they’ve got their old form back and are top of the standings now. The difference? Passion. Even the broadcasters remark that the team is demonstrating the intensity that won them past championships. They are exciting to watch.
Last week the clutter in my office reached the tipping point – literally. The pile on the desk tipped over into the pile on the chair which tipped into the pile on the floor. I was trapped. Unless I did some clearing out, I couldn’t get from the desk to the door. It took a whole day and some tears as I sent old notes, cards and manuscripts to the recycle bin, but now when I walk to my desk, I’m energized by the clean surfaces and neatly stacked supplies.
As part of the clear out, I examined old workshop notes. That brought a few tears too. I remembered my naïve self heading off to those classes convinced I would learn the “magic” element that would turn me into a prolific, best-selling author. I’d come home from each session invigorated, eager, feeling on the cusp of something wonderful.
Time passed. I’m not a best-seller. Realism has overtaken passion. The manuscripts are more polished, better structured. The characters are more rounded. The prose is clear and fluent. So, I’ve learned much in my years of writing, but I’ve also lost some of the passion.
How to get it back?
Last week I talked about learning something new. That’s a good step.
Reading a good book is another. My tablet is full of new e-books, my bedside table has a stack of TBR titles, but so much of that reading feels like work. I’m studying my craft. For a change of pace I returned to an old favourite. Joy coloured my reading time. I remembered that, as an author, I wanted to give that kind of joy to my readers. The passion is stirring.
Make new friends. There is nothing so wonderful as an old friend, but a new friend can stir up the soul. It’s kind of like going out on a blind date. So much to discover. Will she become a soul-mate or turn out to be a dud? I don’t know, but the journey promises excitement. I’ve joined the Pioneer Hearts group on facebook, where I’m meeting new people who share my passion for history. I’m excited to chat with them.
In her iconic book on writing, bird by bird, Anne Lamott talks about the writing frame of mind. She points out that starting and abandoning numerous projects indicates a lack of passion for them. She recommends that writers look to their core values and write from that place. You probably aren’t even aware of your core values, they feel like universal truths that no one has ever not known. But it is the job of the writer to explore those truths, to lay them out for the world to see, to dissect them and put them back together again. A writer’s passion lies in telling her truth.
I’ve made a start on all of the above. Now, I’m going to do some of the exercises from those old workshops. After all, in my office clean up I unearthed coloured pencils, index cards and a variety of charts. I’m already smiling in anticipation. The exercises won’t create passion in the work, but they may put me in the frame of mind where passion happens.
Anyone else like to share some tips on how to keep the passion alive in your writing when you feel jaded with the whole thing? Please share.