Getting passionate about writing is a bit tougher than getting inspired. Not having inspiration is merely a case of not having an idea that excites you, whereas losing a passion for writing is a sort of existential crisis, and there is no easy fix for that, especially if the crisis concerns your profession — i.e., something you have to constantly keep doing.
Do You Actually Need Passion?
There’s more than one way to look at a writer’s passion, but the general idea is that it’s a mix of being motivated, interested and involved with your work. You’ll find people saying that passion is not actually necessary to be successful, and they may be right, but that’s beside the point. You need passion to be fulfilled by your work in more ways than a paycheck or recognition can do.
When you’re passionate about the work you do, motivation is almost never an issue. Motivation is about giving yourself reasons to do the work, finding the means to an end. A passionate writer will not need it, because the work itself becomes both the means and the end.
Find the passion, and your writing will undoubtedly improve. You won’t have to rely on formula, because you will be intrinsically fired up to find the creative solution to the issue at hand. You will be more interested and involved in your work, since there will be no one you want to impress but yourself.
Have You Really Lost Your Passion?
Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way: are you passionless because you’re not excited about what you’re writing? Are you passionless because you’re not writing as well as you’d like to? These aren’t a lack of passion per se, they’re boredom, disillusionment or disappointment. The difference might seem like splitting hairs, but it’s fundamental. As stated above, passionlessness is an existential state, not a feeling of the moment — even if the feeling is persistent.
There are several symptoms of a writer who’s lost their passion. See if you fit these descriptions:
1. You’re no longer interested in the quality of your work beyond such qualities as “readable”, “completed on time” and “has no grammatical errors”.
2. You measure the success of your work solely by the number of words or pages you’ve written.
3. You don’t notice an improvement in your writing when analyzing your work from a significant stretch of time.
4. Writing is a chore, and you no longer feel like you enter a ‘groove’ when you’re writing.
If you fit these symptoms, you might have a case of passion lost. So what now?
How to Regain Your Passion
Now that you’re certain that you’ve lost your passion, it’s time to do the hard work of regaining it. Or more accurately, weathering the storm until it comes back to you.
The thing about passion is that, like most of your internal processes, it has an ebb and flow to it. The key is not to force it when it’s going to happen on its own — it’s not going to work, and you’ll further discourage yourself. You know what happens to someone who tries a magic diet pill that doesn’t work? They get more pessimistic than before, and gain more weight. So how do you know the passion is coming back?
Have you ever lost your passion for something before? What happened then? Did you persist through it, or did you stop? If you did in fact stop, you’re in the danger zone. Unlike riding a bike, writing is not something you can return to when you haven’t done it for a very long time, and still have the same skill level. Think of it like going to the gym.
Instead of doing what you want to do — to stop writing until you feel passionate about it again — keep writing. You’re still exercising the same muscle, and you’ll need it when the passion comes back. If you stop writing while you don’t feel any passion for it, it’s likely that you’ll never pick it up again.
Remind yourself constantly of why you had the passion for writing in the first place. When you were growing up, you read books that amazed and inspired you. You fantasized about writing, and dreamed of doing what you do now. The passion is still in there. You have to look for it, and remind yourself constantly that you still have it.
The most important thing to do is actively believe that the passion will come back. Treat it like depression: it looks bleaker than ever now, but the only way to get out of it is to remind yourself that it’s going to get better. If you don’t believe it can get better, it never will.
The discipline to keep going, faith that the passion will come back and constantly reminding yourself about when you had the passion will be key to riding this out until you regain it. This problem has no easy fix, and you’ll have to do all of the heavy lifting on your own. The good news is, once the passion is back, you won’t ever believe that you lost it in the first place.
Read this article published via Write!