When Your Passion Is Enough

What if passion is the only thing that keeps you going?

For the past 25 months, I have published a post on this blog, consistently, every single day.

I don’t really like talking about this, because it makes me sound … proud. I mean, I am, don’t get me wrong. It’s a huge accomplishment, and something I fully intend to keep up with for as long as I am able. But having posted so consistently for what feels like so long (in a good way — I’m not bored or anything) actually speaks to an important point I’d like to address: motivation.

What keeps a writer motivated to write more than often seems possible?

I often struggle to understand why so many people have issues with this. It’s not because I’m not empathetic to those who have problems focusing, or mental health issues, or honestly just a lot going on in their lives that makes them put writing on the back burner so readily. I get all that, trust me.

But it makes me question how in tune people really are with their passions.

Yes, I used the word ‘passion.’ You know, that thing people try to say can’t make you money or whatever.

I’m not saying these people are lazy! No! Stuff happens! It’s OK!

But we really need to rethink how important passion is when it comes to our work.

Writing is weird, because it’s a creative profession. Same with sculpting or playing the violin or ballet. Hard work isn’t all that easy to see from the outside. So a lot of people wonder how a sculptor or a violinist or a ballerina gets so gosh darn good at what they do.

Passion isn’t the whole pie. But I’m pretty confident in guessing, for most people — regardless of your profession — would agree it’s a pretty big piece.

I don’t blog because I want a bunch of followers or because people are surprised when they discover I’m a crazy person armed with a wireless keyboard. I do this because I like it. If I hated doing this, if I dreaded waking up every single morning knowing I was going to have to write ANOTHER blog post today, I would have quit 24 months ago.

How do I keep it up? I like it. That’s literally the only thing that drives me most of the time. Comments are nice, knowing I’m helping people is wonderful. But I’m not here to make a living, I’m not here to pretend like I know All The Things just to attract an audience. I am here because I write. A lot. I like writing. A lot. When there is nothing else here to motivate me, that is all I need. That is enough.

Questions about motivation are, and have always been, extremely difficult for me to answer. How do I stay motivated to write? I literally just do it. And I do it because, at the end of the day, it makes me happy; it makes me feel accomplished; it reminds me that I have an actual purpose in this world. I understand that’s not enough for many aspiring writers. That’s why I repeat, as often as I can without beating you senselessly over the head with it, that you have to like what you’re writing about. If you’re writing about X for the sake of writing about X, you will never last.

Motivation to earn, to grow — it’s all numbers. That’s a huge motivation for me, too — I get it. But sometimes, I just want to crawl under my blankets and watch Netflix and not blog about what it’s like to be a writer. Some days, a blog post is barely all I can manage to do because my brain is throwing tantrums. That’s still enough for me. I’m not me when I’m not doing this. Whether my love for writing comes through in these posts or not, I hope you know that’s why I do what I do. Because it gives me life. Because I’ve been building this blog for 8 years, and I am so, so proud of what it has become. If I could write 10 blog posts every day — and if it wouldn’t drive you insane — I would.

In life, you have to search for the passions that make you want to Human when Humaning is hard. If nothing else in your life is stable or OK, at least that one thing always will be.

So instead of asking how to stay motivated, instead ask yourself this: what makes me want to get up and Do Things when I don’t want to? That is your passion. That is the thing you should go after with all your strength and resources. For me, that just happens to be writing. It might be writing for you, too — or something that involves the same skills, even if your job title is a little different. All that matters is that you find The Thing, and you do The Thing, and you enjoy The Thing, and you live your life always knowing The Thing will be there, driving you forward, making everything bearable that wouldn’t be without it.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

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14 thoughts on “When Your Passion Is Enough

  1. Writing is definitely your passion. I think while most people who write enjoy writing, or at least feel they have something to express, the level of passion that you display is not there. We need some type of validation to keep us going. It could be monetary compensation or just words of gratitude that make us feel as if we are making a difference. If a person goes long enough without something or somebody to provide that validation, the passion will wane. You are blessed with an internal motivation that keeps you going, many of us need the external motivators as well.

    1. I think its impossible to write without any external motivation. Most writers would not publish anything if that was the case. But if somebody needs money or praise just in order to keep writing, I think there is a problem there. I think people should write because they have something to say. Writing shouldn’t be a means to an end, like money or fame. After all, the vast majority of writers don’t make enough money to support themselves, and out of thousands of writers only a few dozen are household names.

      1. I think you’re limiting your view to novels but their are blogs, magazine articles, text books, and instructional manuals-all types of writing material that require someone with the ability to write. I don’t have to make money from my writing, but I do have to feel that I’m achieving something here, and a wow that was a great story can go a long way. We are all wired differently and we are all motivated by different things. You can’t project yourself on other people-I hope this doesn’t sound harsh. I enjoy your writing and can relate to most of what you say. Thanks for sharing :-)

      2. Yes, I did kind of limit myself to novels, and its true that a person shouldn’t project on other people. I think I responded the way I did because the only feedback I ever gotten was my brother looking over my shoulder and telling me I couldn’t write. So now even though I’ve been writing in my spare time for the past 6 years I’m still too nervous to show it to anybody. So I truly understand the desire for at least one person to acknowledge all the work that goes into writing and say that it was good. But personally that’s not what keeps me writing. But there are infinitely many reasons why people write, and what keeps them writings.

      3. I agree. As other commenters have pointed out (and I’m glad you are one of them!), I’m not always the best example of what should drive a writer to write. Everyone is different, and I do apologize if I focused a little too much on myself in this post! Everyone is motivated by different things. Aside from writing to “get views” or “get rich” (I mean, I think we all do that to a certain extent, but it definitely shouldn’t be the primary driving force as you said), I don’t think there’s a “wrong” source of motivation to rely on. Maybe what I should have added above is that passion for writing is like the foundation of all your writing endeavors. You can stack other motivators on top of passion — I mean, a large portion of my income still comes from freelancing, I wouldn’t do it if it weren’t for that — but without it, the goals you’re trying to reach really aren’t reachable. Imagine trying to scale a building without a foundation, to try to get to the top [to make money]. Can you make money writing if you have no passion for what you’re doing? Sure. But it’s not sustainable. It just won’t last forever. Whatever you do, whatever you’re trying to achieve, there should be passion behind that. That was probably too many layers of metaphors but I may write another post about this, if it helps. Thanks for adding your thoughts, it’s much appreciated!

    2. I really appreciate this comment. Thank you so much for bringing this up – it’s good to be reminded that I’m not normal (and I say that positively here haha). Some people just have a built-in force that drives them forward, and many do not have that. That doesn’t mean you’re of any less worth if you don’t – it’s just harder when you have to rely on other things to keep a steady workflow. I get that. I am doing my best to remember to keep a healthy balance of tough love and gentle compassion. I hope that when I do post about these things, it never comes off as me saying everyone should be this way or that they shouldn’t write if they aren’t. There’s nothing wrong with needing an external motivator (something other than self-accountability) to get stuff done. :)

      1. Also, WordPress is stupid and I didn’t realize I replied twice to the same conversation just now. It just goes to show that I’m definitely not perfect and I’m working on it lol :P

      2. (I’m not used to two people replying to each other, not that I’m complaining, it just doesn’t tell me in the dashboard that you’re replying to each other and not writing to me separately.)

  2. Hi Meg! Ive started blogging recently and am hoping for your opinion. I am blogging about my personal and all to true story. I had imagined I would write a book one day until a friend mentioned to start blogging and the book can come later. The idea behind the book is to help, motivate and inspire people to help themselves and know that there is support out there if you need it. The blog has become therapeutic for me but I can’t write as much as I would like because no one but 3 people know I’m writing. I have to keep my identity hidden until I’ve safely exited my marriage with my kids. Do you have any suggestions? I am and always was very passionate about reading and writing, I now have a purpose! – Venya

    1. First, congrats on getting started!! Woo woo!! That’s not easy – so happy for you.

      Second – even though I know this can’t be easy, finding your purpose in writing about your experiences, and helping others, is amazing. I’m happy for you in that regard as well.

      I have blogged anonymously on topics I wanted to keep private. There are just things people don’t need to know about you, even though you’re itching to write about it, as you said, a form of therapy. And I have also thought about someday writing a book about these things I do not disclose publicly. I think blogging about your experiences is really great. And I think it’s great to keep doing it, it’s easy to stay anonymous and if you don’t want anyone to read it, you can always keep it private or share it with only those you want to see it. My only advice really is to keep writing in a way that keeps you going. If it’s helping you, right now, I think that’s all that matters. It’s easier to be anonymous online than you might think. I don’t know if any of that helps, but I’m here if you need any more specific suggestions writing-wise!

      1. Thanks for the advice! I think anonymous is best for me because I feel free to write everything and anything! I love writing in general so this is very natural for me. Remaining anonymous also creates an allure to me. On the outside I look perfect with the million dollar family, when people find out I’m behind the keyboard they will drop dead at the reveal. When the timing is right I will walk out and say, this is my story I’m not afraid to admit it anymore and where’s my Oscar for the mind blowing performance of perfection!😂 Venya

  3. Hey there! I absolutely loved this post. Blogging is something new to me. I am 17 and have anxiety issues and panic attacks and see therapists and doctors and all of these things. I have been into writing literally since I remember myself, but the past year I was only writing depressing things in a notebook and just felt alone. I decide to use my love for wiriting into something more productive not only for the people who would possibly read my blog but also to myself. Writing about motivation and uplifting things has made me feel a lot better. I just combined my love for writing and my passion for ballet and I am currently trying to maybe help others while also helping myself. I randomly stumbled across your blog and I loved your posts. They just give people motivation to keep going making the most out of their passion.
    So thanks for this amazing post, totally loved it!

    1. You are so welcome. :) Writing’s mental health benefits for all will always continue to amaze me. Glad you’ve found a way to use writing to help yourself and others as well, I love it.

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