Being passionate about something often qualifies as the threshold separating those who are serious about every aspect of the subject matter and those who merely do something for fun. Having a writing passion is considered akin to being a dedicated writer who has a vastly better chance to be successful.
But is that assumption correct?
To answer that properly, it’s important to understand that “passion”—not to mention “success”—is a vague concept; it can mean different things to different people. As a result, we first need to define both success and passion.
In this context, I define “success in writing” very simply: It refers to being mostly happy with what you’ve written, feeling you mostly managed to express what you intended. Two central reasons are essential for understanding the dynamics involved in the keyword “mostly”:
So, what about writing passion? Again, for the purposes of this post, I define it as an excessive focus on one’s writing, or the fixation on a tangible target such as word count or number of completed projects, even to the point of obsession. Where “excessive” becomes “obsessive” is something we’ll return to in a while.
In this post, I’ll explain why being passionate about writing can actually be damaging to one’s skills—not to mention work-life balance—and I’ll offer alternatives that can help a writer improve their craft while still maintaining this precious balance.Continue reading
Writing is something virtually all of us can get better at. Part of this improvement comes from our becoming more experienced—to put it simply, writing more makes us better. However, another part comes from others’ experience: We learn from the advice of those who’ve written more than we have.
The internet is a fantastic source of writing advice, containing seemingly endless resources and wisdom. And yet, there’s a certain problem with this abundance of knowledge: Not all of it is good for you.
On the one hand you can find excellent, in-depth articles written by people who really want to help you; on the other, catchy one-liners that sound important and wise, but can actually be unproductive, if not outright harmful. The problem is that such short and wise-sounding tips propagate virally and persist. For obvious reasons, we tend to be attracted to simple, one-size-fits-all solutions.
Sadly, these so-called easy solutions are often wrong or, at the very least, misleading or incomplete.
In this post I will visit three of the most persistent such claims about writing. We’ll see which one is somewhat true, which one is wrong, and which one is … not even wrong. The goal is not to offer you ready solutions—that would only perpetuate the “trust me, I’m a writer” problem. Rather, with this post I want to help you see how to gauge such writing claims for yourself.Continue reading
It doesn’t require a degree in meteorology to realize that weather affects many of our activities as well as our mood. Writing, as a hobby and certainly as an integral part of our professional routine, couldn’t be an exception.
On the surface, the influence of weather in our writing seems to be a matter of mood, and a fairly simple one: Good weather, good writing mood; foul weather, foul writing mood, right?
Well, no. It’s not that simple.
The complexity of the way weather affects our writing lies in the fact that there is a lot of subjectivity involved. Some of us like snow and winter; others prefer heat and summer. Indeed, most of us have varied responses to weather, our preferences depending on various factors, including how we feel on a given day, which complicates matters further.
Even then, we can actually leverage weather we don’t particularly like to produce texts of certain kinds, as I will show you in this post.
We would need a steampunk weather machine to … control the weather, but until one is available, we can opt for the next best thing: controlling how weather affects our writing.Continue reading
As children, we’re taught that quitting is bad. We grow up believing that quitting is somehow associated with failure. The truth is, only through learning how to quit successfully can we discover how to evolve as writers and, ultimately, succeed.
Ask yourself this: How many times did you have to stop doing something because it didn’t work, only to discover a marvelous solution moments later? You wouldn’t have found this solution if you had insisted on banging your head against the proverbial wall.
Here’s another example, funnier and even more revealing: Imagine you’re driving in an unfamiliar area and, taking a wrong turn, you find yourself on a dead-end street. Would you wait there for a magic portal to suddenly appear so you could continue driving? Obviously not; it’s absurd.
The truth is, we quit things all the time and don’t even think about it much. That’s because quitting—at the right time, the right way, and for the right reasons—is an integral part of success.
Why should a writing project be any different?
Quitting a writing project can be what stands between you and the fulfillment of your writing aspirations. That is, as long as it’s done properly. And so, in this post, I won’t be telling you not to quit; I’ll show you why, when, and how to quit a writing project, in a way that actually brings you closer to success.Continue reading