By definition, writers are passionate creatures. Your days are spent huddled over a keyboard, tap tap tapping out portions of your soul and nuggets of your imagination. If you don’t truly love writing, it is darn near impossible to be a good writer.
Thursday, October 4, 2012
6 Key Steps To Finding Your Passion As A Writer
As writers, we are among the fortunate few who are actually doing something we love. Yes there are struggles, both financial and personal. But we have the ability and talent to shape words into tangible expressions that can inspire, educate, and entertain. There is a real fulfillment and joy in that.
As much as we love the craft, part of our calling as writers should be to stretch ourselves beyond the calling to write. You can be a good writer by tapping into the passion of being a writer.
You can be an exquisite writer by tapping into the passion of being yourself.
Writing may define part of you, but it shouldn’t define all of you. You are a complex, multidimensional, ever-evolving individual. You owe it to yourself, to your craft, and to your readers to explore all of the nooks and crannies of who you are.
Let me present this scenario as an example. My daughter is a ballet dancer, and I have been around student and professional dancers for many years. An extremely talented student dancer is enchanting to watch. She is technically proficient and stunningly fluid and graceful.
An experienced professional dancer is rapturous and heart-wrenching to watch. Technical abilities and gracefulness are second nature. What shines through so poignantly is her soul.
You see her life experiences, joys, wounds, loves, and values, all played out before you. You see these emotions in the movements of her body, the myriad of expressions on her face, the subtleties of timing, and her invisible connection with the audience. It is pristine, exquisite, and breathtaking.
Dancers and actors spend a lot of time exploring themselves to perfect their crafts. It is one thing to be a proficient dancer or actor. It is quite another to be an inspired and passionate artist. You must explore what is inside of you, draw it forth, and infuse it into your role.
An inspired and passionate writer must do the same, for writing is an art as well.
Most of us are so busy with the business of writing that we have little time for rummaging around in our own lives to see what’s what.
However, if you don’t make the space and time to do this valuable work, you are tethering your writing to “just good enough.” You are walking past an untapped goldmine of inspiration that will buff the bright shine of authenticity, humanness, and raw emotion on your work.
So how does one go about poking around inside to find this passion? It takes a little time and work. It takes stepping away from busyness to look within. The deeper you dig, the greater the reward. In fact, the payoff can be tremendous. Along the way, you might learn things about yourself that will open amazing new doors of possibility and discovery for your work and your life.
From my own experience, I see this discovery work as a very strategic process. It is not always linear, but by following specific steps, you will leave no stone unturned to evolve into the passionate writer you were meant to be. Here are five key steps to finding your passion.
§ Understand what makes you tick, what motivates you, where you get your energy, and how you perceive the world. Understanding this about yourself helps you connect with your readers and your characters.
§ Learn more about your personality and why you behave and operate in the world the way you do. How you view the world is reflected in your writing, so pursue awareness around this and use the knowledge to direct your writing decisions.
§ Use this clarity about yourself to help you focus on what is natural and right for who you really are — not who you wish you were or who others want you to be. Your uniqueness should shine through in your writing.
§ Begin this process by taking one or two personality assessments, like the Myers Briggs test. These assessments give you a framework for the process of self-discovery and exploration. They can open your eyes to parts of yourself you haven’t acknowledged before.
Define Your Qualities.
§ You might have a general idea of your skills, values, and interests, but have you really dug deep to determine which of those are imperative in your life? Are you allowing your writing work to overwhelm other places to explore? These places could ultimately help your writing.
§ Determine the values that define you, the skills that you enjoy (not just those that you are good at), and the interests that are fulfilling and fun, so you to be creative, expansive, and focused in your writing and in life.
§ Commit to finding ways to use these newly defined values, interests, and skills. Explore new options in life so that you can exploit them in your writing. Jodi Picoult is an author who routinely scrutinizes and employs her values and interests in her novels, and she is quite prolific.
Create A Vision.
§ Once you’ve gotten to know yourself better and defined what is important to you, begin to create a vision for your life and for your writing.
§ By outlining a rough vision based of your personality, values, skills, and interests, you will begin to refine a purpose and mission for your writing and your life. Any passionate endeavor, bolstered by purpose, will have substance and longevity.
§ As you explore the many possible details of this vision, your purpose and mission will become more and more clear to you. It will give you a road map for your writing and what you want to achieve. Use this road map to give direction and meaning to your writing plans.
§ Refer to this vision frequently as you write. Draw from it as from a deep well of inspiration for your work. Allow yourself to absorb the feelings your vision evokes so that authenticity shines through in your writing.
Remove the Roadblocks.
§ As you define the elements of your vision and mission, you may encounter emotional roadblocks preventing you from taking the actions you needed to make your vision real.
§ If you don’t address them, limiting beliefs, life imbalances, unresolved issues, and emotional reactions can prevent you from discovering more about yourself and your passions.
§ As you uncover your own roadblocks and work through them, you will uncover more gems of inspiration for your writing. Many people use writing as a way of resolving these issues. When you are vulnerable in your writing, you are revealing your authentic self. Your readers will resonate with that. Elizabeth Gilbert’s best selling book, Eat, Pray, Love, is a perfect example of this level of vulnerability.
Shift Your Mind.
§ As you learn about yourself, you will begin having profound “ah ha” moments. Previous ways of thinking will be challenged. Things that you once accepted will no longer be acceptable.
§ You will want to address unmet needs and remove tolerations from your life that have been sapping your energy and attention. This will open your mind and your time for writing and for other passions you have discovered.
§ Your perspective on what is good and right for you will open up. You sabotage your creativity when you do things you don’t want to do because you feel you “should.” Laser focus on what you want for your life to create the wide open spaces needed for your best writing.
Create Your Plan.
§ The final part of the process of discovering yourself and your passion is creating an action plan based on all you have learned. You may find there are many passions and options for your life in addition to writing.
§ Remember, you may have to do this work several times over the course of your writing career as you continue to evolve as a person.
§ Use everything you have learned about yourself to infuse your writing with dimension, substance, and presence. Armed with new self-awareness and growth, you will find passion in your writing and in your life beyond your wildest expectations.
If you would like to take your own journey of self-exploration to discover your passions in life and infuse your writing with power, I invite you to check out Discover Your Passion: A Step-By-Step Course for Creating the Life of Your Dreams.