For as long as I can remember, I’ve thought writing is just the coolest thing ever.
Think about it. You sit down in front of a blank page or screen, let your brain run wild for a bit, sit back, and boom. A story has appeared. And it just CAME OUT OF YOU. LIKE HOW??
That is so AWESOME.
The more I write, the more I am reminded that writing isn’t just something I like to do. It’s a significant enough part of my life that it’s right up there with all the necessities, like water and food and, you know, breathing.
But I’m hesitant to tell people writing is my passion. And I refuse to say that passion got me to where I am today. Because that would be lying. And why would I do that?
My passion for words has gotten me through some pretty tough spots, that’s true. But let’s not forget the years of work that earned me everything I have.
If you’re passionate about writing, and you’re about to use that passion as a jumping-off point to launch a career as a writer, there’s something you should know. Something important.
Passion alone is completely worthless.
It’s not that passion itself doesn’t matter. You have to be passionate about what you’re doing to stick with it in the long-term — at least, if you don’t want to be completely miserable while doing it.
But you can’t rely on passion to provide all the momentum you need to keep going.
I am extremely passionate about telling stories and helping writers tell their own. I’m not sure I would keep doing it, though, if social accountability didn’t exist. If I didn’t get paid to do it. If I wasn’t otherwise driven by my (yes, unhealthy) obsession with checking things off lists.
On those days I feel defeated, my passion is still there. But it’s definitely a lot harder to rely on.
No, passion is not enough. Not if you think it’s going to help you when you’re having a bad day, when you get another rejection email, when someone tells you that you should stop writing and find a “suitable” career.
Writing takes work. It takes time and energy and effort. But it also takes resilience, and discipline, and enough self-confidence to convince that negative voice in your head to shut up and let you write — even when you aren’t quite sure you disagree with it.
Writing takes so much out of a writer that it’s a wonder any of us can even stand up after pouring our hearts and souls into our projects. But we keep doing it anyway. Not just because we’re passionate about it, but also because we’re just too gosh darn stubborn to quit.
Well. A lot of us, anyway.
Don’t take your first steps into your writing career thinking passion will carry you through. Apply your passion to your work, instead of expecting your passion to do the work for you.
That is the biggest mistake new aspiring writers make. They think enjoying it is enough, wanting to make a difference is enough. It’s not. You have to be willing to do the work. And if you’re willing to do the work, you can expect to be rewarded. Eventually. Probably in very small ways at first, and more as you advance.
Be passionate about what you do. It’s contagious.
But also be prepared to use that passion to physically, mentally, and emotionally DO something. Use it wisely. And enjoy the ride as much as you can.
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 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.