I love writing. I love the thrill of a phrase that sits perfectly on the page. I love the tap of the keyboard, and the soft scratch of pen on paper. I love the feeling you get when you manage to capture an elusive emotion in a few words. I love those days when I am in the zone, words flowing so fluidly that hours can pass before I look up again.
I don’t like editing. I hate checking and rechecking my work, and trying to make grammatical sense of my ideas. I don’t like those days when I am coming up to a deadline and I still don’t know what I am going to write. I don’t like chasing ideas round and round that just won’t be nailed down to the page. I don’t enjoy the wrestle.
Writing is my passion, it is my calling. It is what I believe I am meant to do. But it doesn’t mean that I enjoy all aspects of writing all of the time.
And that’s a problem for me because I believed the line “do what you love and you will never work a day in your life”.
It’s just not true.
I am doing what I love, but sometimes doing what I love is plain hard work. Sometimes doing what I love is so frustrating I could scream. Sometimes doing what I love means that I have to tie myself to the chair.
I used to believe that as writing is my passion it should come easily to me. But it is precisely because it is my passion that it is not easy.
My passion matters to me. I want to get it right. I want to make sure it is good. I want others to catch my vision and be encouraged by my words.
Let’s face it, if I didn’t really love it, I would be happy with less precise prose. I would be ok with the fact that some people didn’t understand me.
So there is an inherent contradiction. I love it, and because I love it, it is hard work. And then I get frustrated as the work is hard and in my head I’m thinking “I should be loving this”.
It helps to step back and remember that while I love my craft, I don’t love all aspects of my craft. But to be passionate about writing I have to take the bad with the good. I have to love it enough that I don’t care about the hard stuff.
As Elizabeth Gilbert says in Big Magic:
If you want to be an artist of any sort, … then handling your frustration is a fundamental aspect of the work – perhaps the single most fundamental aspect of the work. Frustration is not an interruption of your process; frustration is the process.
So instead of the mantra “do what you love and love what you do”, I have adopted the mantra “everything sucks, some of the time.”
Then the question becomes, “How passionate am I about my writing? Am I passionate enough to put up with the sucky parts too?”
Join me for the journey,
Big Magic Discussion Question:
What are the hardest parts of your passion? Are you passionate enough that you can endure the most disagreeable aspects of your work?
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