Has this ever happened to you?
You’re half-way through a short story revision, or the rough draft of your novel, or the research for a biography—and without warning, you lose your desire for the project. The passion evaporates.
You feel lethargic, sad, and brain dead (or least oxygen deprived.) You put your writing away for a few days, hoping it’s hormonal or a phase of the moon or post-holiday blues.
After Some Time…
However, when you dig it out again, it’s even worse. It doesn’t grab you. You’re sure it won’t grab anyone else either! It’s boring. It goes back in the drawer.
Unfortunately, over the next few weeks, the situation worsens. Lethargy turns to apathy. Boredom turns to dislike. You face the fact that, for some reason, you’ve lost your burning desire to write this story—or maybe even write anything at all.
Without the passion, why bother to endure the long hours, the potential rejection of your work, and the low pay? Perhaps the bigger question is this: once it’s lost, how do you recapture your passion for writing?
What is Passion?
The question is summed up well by Hal Zina Bennett in Write from the Heart:
“How do authors connect with that passion, bordering on obsession, that drives them to finish even the most ambitious writing projects in spite of seemingly insurmountable handicaps? What is the secret creative energy that the world’s best writers can apparently zap into action the moment their fingers touch their keyboards?”
Some say this passion is tied to how meaningful the writer feels his work is. He feels passion when what he is sharing is deeply meaningful. He may lose his passion when his writing turns into
- what will sell
- what the markets dictate are current trends
- what pays the most money.
Eric Maisel in A Life in the Arts says,
“The most salient difference between the regularly blocked artist and the regularly productive artist may not be the greater talent of the latter, but the fact that the productive artist possesses and retains his missionary zeal.”
Most writers would agree that a passion for writing involves enthusiasm, excitement, drive, and a deep love for your work. This passion makes writing a joyous occupation. It makes time fly while “real life” is shoved to the far comers of the mind. It’s being in the flow, enraptured in the present moment. For some, it’s being aware that they’re writers twenty-four hours a day.
Why Does Passion Dissipate?
Passion can spring a leak after too many rejection slips, too many critical comments from spouses or reviewers or critique partners, and too many crises to handle in your personal life. Passion can also die when you repeat yourself in your work instead of exploring new avenues of writing.
Lack of passion can also be caused by chronic fatigue.
“Fatigue and the accompanying blockage also come with living the sort of marginal life that artists so often live,” says Eric Maisel. “The effort required to put food on the table, to deal with an illness without benefit of a hospital plan, to pay the rent, to get a toothache treated, to attend to the needs of a spouse or children, can tire out the most passionate and dedicated artist.”
Do YOU sometimes struggle with this issue? Please leave a comment! (Parts 2 and 3 will discuss ways to get the passion back!)