Today’s post is inspired by a blog post written by a 24-year-old dying man who offered some words of wisdom I believe can be useful for us as writers. This isn’t really a “how to make money” or “this is how to run your business as a writer” post. It’s more of an encouraging post.
Passion is the driving force for true enjoyment (and possibly success).
I’m not going to promise you’ll find success in writing what you’re most passionate about, but the man who wrote the post I linked to above had an excellent point. He wrote, “Patience, passion, and dedication come easily only when you love what you do.” For longterm sustainability in this business of writing, I believe passion is the driving force to maximizing our chances of success.
If you are writing what you’re most passionate about, it’s easier to get up in the morning to do your work. That’s not to say you won’t have days where you don’t feel like writing. That is normal. Even when you love what you do, it’s not 100% excitement 100% of the time. But overall, there will be so much excitement, you feel like you’re bursting with energy.
Passion gives us purpose. It gives us a reason to keep going when the rest of the world isn’t going right. And it’ll definitely help you weather the ups and downs of the business side of writing. Things don’t always go up. It sometimes goes down. You won’t always be at the peak of your sales. You won’t always get positive feedback. There will be dry spells. It’s normal in any business. Writing is no different. What passion does, however, is gives you the patience and dedication (as mentioned above) to keep you going.
Fear will prevent you from greatness.
When we take our focus off what we’re writing, we go off track from where we are heading. Deep down, we have something we really want to write, something that will move us and enhance our lives as writers. I believe this is our passion. We all have different passions. There is not one-size-fits-all type of story we all should be writing. Someone once told a writing group I was in that you are the only person who can tell your story. No one else can do it. Sometimes, it’s possible to use popular elements in the stories we want to tell. For example, I love writing historical western romance, so tossing in a mail-order bride (which is popular) is within my range of interest. However, I will never write a sports romance, regardless of how hot they currently are. There is a limit to how far you can go in the range of what you’re interested in.
Undoubtedly, there will be some fear that will creep in. That fear can come from a variety of sources (such as negative feedback, lack of sales, lack of reviews, and our own doubts). We all have something we fear. This is normal. I don’t know what your fear is, but early on when I began writing spicy romances, it was the fear that I would get a lot of negative feedback because I was daring to write Christian romances where the married couple had sex. This is still a huge no-no in the publishing industry. I can only think of two other authors who dare to write these kind of romances, and none of us get preachy in the romances. There were a couple of people in my personal life who were not happy with the direction I decided to take my writing, but this was, and still is, something I am very passionate about. So I had/have to write my stories this way in order to feel fulfilled as a writer. And I found an audience for my work. There were people who wanted to read the stories I was writing. Believe me, no one was more surprised than I was when I found this out. And yes, I do get negative feedback. There are people who criticize me for what I’m doing. But the longer I do this, the easier it is to keep going and pursuing my passion. I won’t promise the fear ever goes away, but it does get easier to manage.
To quote the man who wrote the article linked to above, “Listen to your inner voice and go with it. Some people may call you crazy, but some may even think you’re a legend.” Who knows what will happen if you pursue your passion? You might not be a NYT or USA Bestselling author. You might never win an award or make a lot of sales. But you might develop some loyal readers who love what you’re doing.
Final thought: Decide your own course and go with it.
Let’s say you decide to write what others want you to because of fear, so you are writing what they want–not what you want. I don’t think you’ll be happy in the long run. It’s impossible to please everyone. If you are letting others dictate what you’re writing, I think it’ll end up being a burden. This is why I think it all boils down to passion and writing in spite of our fears.
I suggest finding a way to push past your fear so you can write what you want. What I do is pretend no one will ever read the book. Sometimes I listen to music to help drown out the negative self-talk. I don’t know what the answer is to get you to push past your fears, but if you can find the trigger that will allow you to write the story you want to write, it’ll be a lot easier to pick your own course and do it.
Here’s a thought I’d like to add in hope of further encouraging anyone reading this who might need it: It is better to fail on your own merits than to succeed on someone else’s. I don’t want someone else to come in and tell me what to write and how to write it. This is why I love self-publishing. I get to call the shots. And sink or swim, I’m the only one who has to answer for my decisions. I’d rather make less money and enjoy what I’m doing than write a story I don’t care for.
Now, your goal might be different from mine. There is nothing wrong with that. Maybe your path is to go with a publisher. (I have a very small publisher for a few of my books, but I love that it’s small and I get to keep full control of my story and can even get the cover I want.) Not all publishers will remove that control from you. I know a couple of writers who would rather work with a publisher than to have full control over the whole publishing process. That’s fine. The key is that you make the decision and do everything you can to seek fulfillment in it. Because whatever your dream is, I think you’re better off going for it than letting fear hold you back.
In closing, I’m going to quote the man from the article with this: “Let your life be shaped by decisions you made, not by the ones you didn’t.”