The Happy Writer

Lessons from Passionate People

I’ve spent a lot of time over the years discovering what I’m not passionate about and I’ve met all kinds of passionate people along the way.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned about passion:

  1. Passion is infectious. I had an archaeology teacher who was in love with ancient pots. You could see the excitement on her face, hear it in the way she described the pottery. The broken fragments all looked the same to the untrained eye, but by the time the semester was done the entire class was in love with pots too.
  2. Passion taps into something deeper. “Why do you do this?” The dance director asked.  “Because you enjoy it? That’s not the right answer.” I’m a competent dancer, but I’ll never be the a great dancer. It’s not enough to be technically skilled. “You have to bring what’s inside, out. You must put your soul into it. That’s what the crowd responds to.”

How do you know if you’ve found your passion?

  1. You’re willing to put in the extra hours. I’ve met a lot of small business entrepreneurs over the past year. The returns are often small, yet they put in the long hours to make their businesses a success, despite the frustration and challenges. They never rest even when success starts to come their way.
  2. Your passion becomes a lifestyle. I attended a flamenco workshop once. The instructor explained how many years it took to become a master of the art form. There was a plateau students reached where many would drop out. Those that persisted were the ones that became involved in the community, the ones who breathed and lived flamenco, who made it into a lifestyle that extended beyond dance.
  3. You will sacrifice for it. Priorities are shuffled. TV becomes unnecessary. That weekend trip away? “Sorry dear. I have practice. I can’t afford to take the time off.”
  4. You can talk all day about it. You’ve met these people. My darling E can watch sports, talk about sports, and play sports, every day of the week. He never gets tired of sports.
  5. You’re hungry to learn more. You devour every bit of information that you can. You’re constantly adding related blogs to your feed reader. You keep a folder of new ideas, and photos for inspiration. You seek out like minded people.

Lastly, just because it’s your passion doesn’t mean it’s easy. Nothing can substitute hard work, time, and practice. Some days it’s still tempting to give up. That’s normal, but passion is what keeps you coming back.

If I ever start to give my writing time grudgingly, if I start to resent sitting at the blank page, if I start to believe that my sacrifices are worthless, then I know I’ve lost my passion. So far it doesn’t look like there’s any chance of that happening.

Happy writing!

30 Comments

  1. Oh no! Don’t tell me you’re begrudging your writing time!

    I feel a lot of these things about writing in general and about writing speculative fiction specifically. Unfortunately, I’ve not met very many people in the biz…

    1. Oh not at all! I’ve just spent a lot of time committing to other people’s passions while searching for my own. It turned out to be writing.

      As for connections, just talking to other writers like you makes me feel a bit saner 😉 My other friends just stare blankly when I start to geek out about writing or grammar LOL

      1. That’s a relief! I figured you were just hypothesizing, but even so, the loss of your talent would be a long-term blow to the genre, IMO. I have no doubt you’ll be breaking in, in the future.

      2. Hey, I don’t mean that lightly. I’ve been reading the work of a few other flash writers and whatnot, and while there’s some good stuff out there, few write as consistently strong prose as yours. You write at a level that’s strongly comparable to published, commercial fiction.

      3. That is very high praise, and I don’t take it lightly. Trust me this will have me grinning for days.

        I still have my insecurities of course (what writer doesn’t). I don’t know if I can translate that consistency to novel length fiction, but that is the challenge. It’s daunting to think it breaking in may take years, that there is so much work ahead, and that some part of success is still just an intersection with luck.

      4. I look forward to seeing the results. (If you need a Beta, I’d be happy to help – especially if it’s after I graduate, but even before if you don’t mind a slow response.)

        And yeah… we writers do have our insecurities. I’ve got a bumper crop of ’em this year.

      5. It would be my pleasure to have you as a Beta 🙂 I don’t anticipate having anything in edited state until early 2010 at the earliest. When are you all done with school?

      6. Er yes. Early 2011. I’ll get in touch with you when I’m done. I don’t mind slow. I read just as slowly. And as I mentioned before, if you ever want me to beta anything, I’d be happy to oblige as well.

  2. Though I’ve been passionate about various interests over the years, nothing has obsessed me like writing. What’s funny is I only discovered how much I love to write a year-and-a-half ago – the year my son turned 32!

    Sacrifices? Yes. Family time, horse time, other hobbies…all have fallen by the wayside. But the one I miss the most is sleep!

    Great post! Only a writer can understand the joy of watching words appear on the screen, words from frantic fingers and racing brains. It is definitely a passion!

    1. Thanks Roh. Isn’t it amazing to discover that passion? My other hobbies have been shuffled down in priority and I almost never watch TV anymore. Thankfully I haven’t had to give up sleep quite yet!

      1. Between school and job and being a parent and writing, I don’t even have any other hobbies, anymore. The only T.V. I see is when my wife has something on when I get home from class – and it’s never something I’d choose to watch under normal circumstances.

      2. Yes, but you still make time for the writing, even if it’s only just thinking about it, and blogging about it. Frankly I don’t know when you find time to sleep hehe.

  3. Lua

    I’ve watched a lot of people in collage and how they shaped their paths in life after they graduated… The ones who are driven by their passions and the one’s who simply don’t have any, well, you can tell the difference 🙂
    I loved this post- you described ‘living with passion’ so well Tessa! When something is your passion, you put the extra hours, work hard, talk about it all the time and you’re willing to sacrifice for it.
    Of course passion doesn’t make the ride any easier, it just helps you endure the bumps on the road and prevents you from giving up!

    1. Passionate people are inspiring aren’t they? They inspire me to want to do great things! As writers, I think the passion is necessary, because it’s a long long bumpy road paved with insecurity and doubt.

  4. Great write up. It’s always great to meet passionate people except when their passion is harming others. I think that’s why I love my job so much is because I’m with people who believe in adding value to people’s lives. Creativity and confidence.

  5. Passions change over time. However, I’m often too passionate about too many things. I really wish that I’d learned my passion for dance when I was young enough to actually become good (although my broken feet now probably thank me, since they’d be broken worse than they are if I had).

    I find writing crowds out many of my other passions (some days I don’t make time to improve my swedish or play HD); which is a good thing. I’m glad I’m not alone in this boat.

    1. They do change don’t they? I went through many phases myself but none ever lasted quite so long as this. I’ve still got other hobbies, but not as much time for them.

  6. I must confess that I’m not totally passionate about writing, but I’d like to give up the 9-5 job to be replaced with writing. Does that count?

    Or am I just lazy? lol

    I can’t say that writing is my passion. But it certainly is my niche. I like to say—leave me to my tongue and I can’t say a word, but give me a pen and I’ll show you the secrets of the universe.

    “How do you know if you’ve found your passion?” Well, I’ve got everything there, lacking perhaps on number 4 and 5 (I don’t know if I could talk about writing ALL DAY!).

    At the end of the day, passionate or no, I’m a writer.

  7. Well said! I was drawn in to reading your list–indeed, passion is not “just for fun”, it takes a lot of hard work and dedicated effort. Sometimes, the passion dries up, I must admit. And it is then when you have to literally kick yourself in the butt and get dragged over to the blank page. But then the passion pops back, and we’re good 😉

    Thanks for the share Bazelli!

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