Monday, March 1, 2010

Why Do We Write?

So the Olympics are over people so no more excuses, it is time to get back to writing. Still there is something that hopefully you can learn from these last couple of weeks. Sure, we all know that luge is dang fast. We know that Norway's curling team really does have a great fashion sense. We know that despite all the planning and prep, we can't control the weather. But there is a bigger picture that I think we are all missing from the Olympic athletes.

I really thought about this with the opening ceremonies. One of the commentators made a comment that really hit home for me. Many of these athletes have absolutely no chance of ever seeing a medal, let alone a medal round. Many will be eliminated on their very first run of whatever event they are doing. This was really the case with some of the smaller countries that sent only one person. So why did they go?

For too many of us, we only do something if we can "win." In other words, if we don't see that tangible reward at the end, then there is simply no point in doing this. Students say this all of the time. "So if I read this book, how many points to I get?" "Is there extra credit in this?" "If I do a Powerpoint with the presentation, will this give me an A?" Many people simply are missing that unqiue outlook on life that these Olympic athletes have - The Passion.

I am reminded of a couple of key events from the Olympics that stand out.

There was a pair of Ice Dancers that knew they really didn't have the points necessary to get them to the final round. This was to be their last competition ever. They had made that decision going into the Olympics. She had just had a baby in October (that alone was amazing seeing her skate) and she wanted to have a life with her family. When they hit the ice, the passion for what they do, the love of the skating came though so strong, the audience couldn't help but feel it. There was no announcement prior to the skate giving the audience this back story, but the crowd sensed something special. They saw it.

Shawn White of the US Ski Boarding team also showed that passion. In the final rounds, he had earned so many points, he essentially didn't have to skate (O.K. I know he did but he didn't have to perform). He asked his coach what he should do and the coach had the perfect comment, "This is for you, do this run and enjoy it!" He did. The passion for the sport came though loud and clear.

Jessica Hardy of USA Swimming said it just today in a Tweet, "Had a blast watching Pac 10s the past couple of days! Feeling inspired after watching my two fav college teams swim fast!" There isn't a day that goes by when her excitement for the sport doesn't come through in her comments.

So where am I going to with all of this? Simply put, writers need to have that same passion when it comes to their writing. That feeling they had the first time they wrote THE END needs to be there the whole time. There can be no excuses. Sure we all have bad days, but hey, that's life. If you don't have that passion for the craft, it isn't worth it.

That passion you have for your writing will come through in the material you compose. I see that in the submissions that come across my desk. On the other hand, I also see the lack of passion in a writer screaming to me loud and clear.

I think this is also important for those writers that are published now and making this a career, whether it is full or part time. If you are writing these books simply to make a deadline, or make a contract, then you need to walk away. I hate to break it to you, that passion is coming through in your writing.

My daughter's swim coach talked to her about her swimming. Lately she has been sloppy. His comment was to ask yourself, after you get out of the pool if this was your best swim ever. He stated this isn't an idle comment, but one that requires some real soul searching. If you can say yes, we should have seen it in the pool. After that talk, he tells her, before entering the water, to make it her best swim. He asks her after she got out that same question. Her answer has been yes and her swimming has been on fire this week.

So, before you even sit down at the keyboard this week, ask yourself if you have that passion.



  1. Great post.

    Last night I got a form rejection for my middle-grade partial that I sent out a week ago. Every rejection hurts, and this one was no acception. I sat for a while on my couch, flipping mindlessly through the channels on my T.V. feeling sorry for myself.

    That lasted about an hour.

    Then I queried three more agents and wrote thousand words on my new project.

    The truth is, I don't write for agents or to be published. I write for me.

    Do I have that hope that someday other people will read my books? Of course. Do I dream of getting that call from an agent? Sure. But at the end of the day, I write because it makes me happy.

  2. Excellent points, and nice recap on the Olympics there!

    Passion is needed for writing. I can't think of any other reason why I continue to write stories after rejections from partials or fulls from agents/publishers.

    It's no about the gold, it's about what you take before you can even dream about reaching it.

  3. A long time ago someone asked me if I had any passion. I didn't know to what he referred. Now I do. There is nothing that will keep me from writing. Even if I received a million rejections I would still do it because it's IN me. I HAVE to do it. Sure publication would be nice, but it's not necessary for me to maintain the fire.

  4. A friend asked me what I would do if I did not get published. I told her, that I would self publish one book, the one that tells me, I can see it in print regardless. I do it for me, for no other reason. If I did get published then yes, that would be wonderful but I am a realistic dreamer.

    She said I was mad and I should stop writing, if I was not certain of getting noticed. Why did I bother writing in the first place?

    I smiled and said goodbye to someone who just does not get it, (or me)!