Making Writing Your Passion

There was a time not long ago when writing was a passion. I’ve gone in and out of this state of passion several times over the last few years, where I’m writing more and doing well, but then I get sidetracked by something. After long enough not writing, it fades away. From one thing to another I have glided and gotten off track: college ministry, school, work, broken bones, etc. Each time I start doing well, writing regularly, and then reach a point where I can no longer maintain my writing schedule.

The passion, when it is kindled, is voracious. I want to write all the time, and I’m always thinking of things to write. Notes pile up in towers that loom over me and my desk, but rather than threatening to suffocate me, each one is like a shiny gold coin. Each one is a star in the sky. Each idea brings me delight, because it means I’m producing, I’m thinking, and I’m creating. When the forges are stoked and burning bright, I feel most alive. I’m not consistently happy unless I’m writing.

Unfortunately, that passion isn’t there all the time. The longer it has been since I have written regularly, since I have put thousands of words down on a page day after day, the more the fires die. The ideas stop flowing, the stars disappear, and life become monotonous. I’m not unhappy, per se, I’m just not as thrilled. Passion isn’t always pleasant, but it always makes you feel alive.

The only way to regain it is to write. To sit down and put words on the page. To force myself to stop playing games, stop being distracted, and run with an idea no matter how bad it is. I have to stop worrying about commitments, even ones I’ve made to myself (such as: but I was going to write that article on fasting next, so I shouldn’t write fantasy fiction now…. no! I need to write, so if I want to write fantasy, I have to follow that. If I don’t, I won’t write at all!), and start getting words out.

With time, the passion will come back. It’s not something for everyone–writing just isn’t everyone’s gig–but it’ll never be yours if you don’t make it yours. It takes some work.

It’s sort of like starting an avalanche. You might have to do a bit to get the boulder rolling, but once it’s going, it takes everything with it. That’s what I want: a mighty avalanche of words that cannot be contained by my self-doubt, self-derision, or my tendency to distraction.

Time to write.

Cut Out the Distractions


The hardest part of writing for me is to cut distractions out of both my workspace and my mind itself. Last Saturday, when I decided I was properly inspired and ready to write, it quickly became clear to me that my desk was simply too messy, so I cleaned instead. Then I blogged. Then I played WoW.

The screenshot above is of an epic poem I’m working on in Scrivener, a fantastic word processing program that I need to write a review for ASAP. One of the neat features of Scrivener is the ability to shift into full screen mode and cut out all the distractions in the background. I turned down the opacity so you can see what I’ve got in the background there, and it’s easy to see how I might have trouble focusing if I didn’t normally keep the rest of the screen blacked out: iTunes, Adium (instant messaging), iPhoto, etc.

My brain needs a bit of distraction to produce, to be honest, but it depends on what I’m working on. If it’s a research paper or an essay, I have to have music in the background. This distracts the creative portion of my brain, allowing me to think more linearly and logically and just bulldoze through the words I need to get on the page. But if I’m writing a creative piece or a poem, I have to have silence or I can’t hear myself think, narrate, or compose.

I like to have the window next to my desk open (or rather, the blinds open) so I can glance outside while working; having something to occupy my eyes sometimes helps my brain meander on its own, when staring at a blank page or desk would cause me to look inwards too much and stall.

There’s a fine line between having too many distractions and having just enough (and just the right ones) to keep myself going. What distractions help or hinder your work?