Regain the Passion

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!)

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11 Responses to Regain the Passion

  1. Yes. Yes yes yes. Obviously I still have a BIT of a desire because I still follow blogs like these, but lately I’ve been like, “WHY? Why should I write? Do I even still want to be a writer?” I think that last block quote may be my problem– my writing became not-the-same-as-it-once-was simultaneously with the birth of my first child six years ago.

    I’m also still pondering the Boundaries for Writers issues. I’ve read your book and it’s shocking what a COMPLETE AND UTTER MESS my boundaries ARE– I’ve taken this state for granted. I’m still trying to figure out how to FIX them when they’ve become so familiar. And with the lack of passion, I can’t quite make the EFFORT to fix the boundaries. It’s kind of depressing.

    • kwpadmin says:

      This is a fascinating comment to me. One of the first things a counselor pointed out to me years ago when talking about boundaries (more specifically, my lack of them), he asked if I’d lost any excitement about my writing. Ha! I told him I could hardly remember what passion for writing felt like. It started my long journey back to restoring boundaries, in particular emotional and mental ones. Start with the resource chapter at the end and get one of the boundary books. Buy it if you can, or get it from the library. Lack of boundaries both causes depression and feeds it. Good luck!

  2. Judy says:

    I frequently lose my passion for writing; it’s never been a steady thing. When it’s gone, I feel distaste for the whole enterprise of writing for publication. I don’t think my issue is boundaries–it’s more a fear of working hard and getting nowhere, of running up against my own limitations again and again, of losing my muse. It’s helpful to me to read blog posts such as this; allows me to feel not so alone.

    • kwpadmin says:

      Judy, you’re not alone. I have noticed this phenomenon more and more lately, oddly enough at the same time that we are told we have so many publishing options now. Most people I talk to DON’T want all those options. They don’t want to self-publish or find their own artists or do their own marketing. They want a traditional publisher who does those things so they can basically just write, like “the good old days.” I fight that myself all the time because I started publishing in the “good old days” when writing a good book was enough, when modest sales over a period of years was a good thing, where books stayed in print long enough for word of mouth to spread well, etc. My passion for the writing itself stays fairly constant, but what you said (“distaste for the whole enterprise of writing for publication”) is what pulls me down if I focus on that part. Despite all our “options” today, I do believe writers have it harder with so much pressure on them to be writer/editor/marketer/artist/salesperson.

      The boundaries issue here for me is one that a writing friend/coach pointed out: she said I had let my writer/business person bleed over into my writer/creative person. The business-me needed to be tougher, and be kept in check, instead of letting those thoughts creep in while trying to create. I find that idea very helpful. I wear my business hard hat when doing the business side, but my soft hat when creating, and try to keep them separate.

      • Judy says:

        Thank you, Kristi. Your further thoughts are helpful. I’m trying to let go of outcome-related concerns in order to focus on process.

        • kwpadmin says:

          Judy, that will probably be the wisest thing you do as a writer, and it will help keep the joy of writing alive.

  3. Liz says:

    Great post with lots to think about – I decided to check in here and ponder your post while I walk this morning.
    In the meantime – to answer your question — I have the passion for writing when I write — it’s creating the balance in the day and – [now from reading the comments section ] my boundaries that I need to work on. When I carve out /schedule time everyday to write, my passion overflows =)

    –LiZ

    • kwpadmin says:

      Liz, you’ve hit the nail on the head in a big way. “I have the passion for writing when I write.” YES! So often the passion kicks in AFTER the writing starts, or maybe not even until you’ve written daily for a week. We want to get the cart before the horse, but it just doesn’t work that way.

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