I’ve noticed an interesting trend: A lot of blogs like to regurgitate other blogs’ topics. Annoying, yes. But what’s more annoying is the latest topic that’s making the rounds. It’s the resolutions for having a healthy writing life in 2012.
I’m naturally interested in such a list because I want to be a more productive, more successful writer in the new year. My goals for 2012 involve writing a couple more Vote Your Adventure stories, blogging a bit more frequently, and releasing a novel. Maybe two. I’ve got my work cut out for me, so I was naturally compelled to click a few of these links to find out how I can be a better writer.
Guess what I learned? Go on, take a guess! How to streamline my process? Nope! How to be a better editor? Nuh huh.
I learned that writers in 2012 should eat and sleep.
Congratulations, writer. You just learned how to function like a regular human being. I’m so glad everyone could be caught up in that revelation, as if it wasn’t something our species had figured out millions of years ago, back before humans could speak and we were roaming around in animal skins, eating bark and roots, traveling around to find food, and generally living on the brink of starvation. I’m glad you were finally able to make it to the exciting revelation that the best thing for you to do this coming year is to keep yourself that much farther from death.
I guess that’s important information to know. I, for one, would also like to stay alive in 2012.
A few other bloggers are resolving to do other things, like reading books they can’t stand, just to feel more literary. Because there’s nothing more inspirational than slogging through a bunch of intolerable crap. Writers stand before a smorgasbord of titles and, thanks to the internet, eleventybillon (that’s totally a real number) different genres, topics, styles, voices, etc. are available. From the inspirational to the informational, the extraordinary to the mundane, the mainstream to the obscure, so many wonderful types of books are waiting for a reader who is the perfect match for them. It’s like a pet rescue, but with books. And yet, for some reason, a few wackos have decided to tackle the very thing that is going to suck the life from them.
I bring this up because it’s sort of a topic that’s been quite meaningful for me lately. Over the last few months, I’ve been hiding something from you all:
The joy of writing had been sucked out of me, and I had no idea how to get it back. I was thinking about quitting writing altogether.
Now, when you’re feeling that low, there’s nothing anyone can say to change those feelings. There’s no amount of praise, false or true, to bring back the passion for that creative outlet.
The passion for one’s craft must come from within. It cannot rely on others.
So I went back to the beginning. The very beginning. In my bio (just up above, in the little blue bar at the top of my site) it tells you that as a kid, I used to stay up late to read. It’s true. My mom would catch me at 3AM on a school night, under the covers with a flashlight and a book. That’s how my passion for books began. If I had to take a guess, I’d say it’s how most writers got their passions, too. I read a lot. I dreamed a lot. I had a big imagination in my head and the stories continued well after I read “The End”.
Then I grew up. I got into writing and decided I was going to make it this big “adult” thing and make it serious business. And, while I do make time for reading here and there, it fell off my radar and I lost my steam. So I had to go back to the beginning.
During the Christmas holiday, I forgot all about writing. I toyed with the idea of what my life would feel like if I never wrote again. For the first couple of days, I didn’t even remember it. Writing, who? We broke up and were seeing other people.
And then I read a book. It was a paranormal book, though that isn’t important. I don’t care about genre, really. It was written in first person prose and the protagonist was incredibly sarcastic. That’s really what I care about. I care about the funny quotient. I picked a book that was right up my alley, something that feels similar to what I like to write.
I ripped through the book in two days. Instantly, I was recharged. I couldn’t imagine what my life would be like without writing! To make a long story short, writing and I got back together and we’re very happy. We don’t even need couples counseling. I was so excited that I reached out to my most supportive writing friends and told them how I was feeling. They were so excited and so supportive. I swear, sometimes I don’t know what I’d do without my writing posse.
The point of all this is that sometimes we want to make really ridiculous lists when all we need to do is return to the start. What was it that first sparked your passion? Okay, maybe you’re not a writer. Maybe you’re a painter, a singer, a programmer. What was it that first revved your motor about your craft?
Go back to the start and refresh your passion all over again. Don’t do what I did and wait for your engine to run dry. Or, if you prefer the relationship analogy, don’t wait for the passion to fade. Schedule a date or a romantic weekend. Send the kids to grandma’s for the night and remember why you fell in love with your craft in the first place.
And leave your Derp List at home.