Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Insecure Writing: When Passion Wanes

Today is the first Wednesday of the month and the day the Insecure Writer's Support Group posts on, well ... you guessed it: insecure writing.


Here's something I struggle with as an unagented author: finding the passion that drives you forward and maintaining it even when rejection or bad reviews can bring you down. Personally, I'm not familiar with the bad reviews part, but I've found the query process sometimes causes my passion to wane.

Here's why: After I write a story I become passionate about it. I strive to make it the best it can be and work on it for months. I take months off at a time so I can disconnect and come back to it with fresh eyes. In short, I love my stories or I wouldn't write them. We all do, right?

But then there's this subjective thing. Not everyone is going to love our stories. Just like I don't read every book out there. When an agent rejects my story, I find my passion start to dwindle. I don't want it to. If there's something wrong with the story, I want to fix it. Agents don't always tell you why they reject something, and many times that's because it's subjective. Another agent may love it.

Maybe  you already have an agent, but so far your agent hasn't been able to sell it. Or maybe your book is already out there but sales are dismal and/or reviews are less than stellar. How do you keep your passion from waning?

I don't know if there's any one trick. And I really hate the thought of losing passion. But maybe that passion is somehow tied in with the romantic notion of the writer's life. Same as how anyone who's been married for more than two years, knows passion is something that must be worked on.

For more posts or to join the group of Insecure Writers Support Group, head over to Alex J. Cavanaugh's blog. 

How do you keep the passion? Or do you replace passion for realism? Inquiring minds want to know!

33 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I guess you just hang on to the words of those who do enjoy what you write.

Stephen Tremp said...

I use both. Passion only goes so far, then its back to reality. Passion is great but can fool someone that the fantasy is reality. Its fun to be passionate, but there needs to be a balance.

Mary Aalgaard, Play off the Page said...

It helps to have small successes, like writing for a local pub, or using your blog! The writer's support both online and off are invaluable. Always, have someone in your corner who never stops saying, "You're great. I love your work, and of course, you'll be successful."

Beth said...

I have a hard time with this one too. I have a story I love so much I can't even put it into words. It received more than 100 rejections. It became very difficult to write after that. I found myself trying to force things in my next story to be what editors seemed to want in the first. I couldn't write anything I liked or remotely cared for. It's been about four months since the bulk of the rejections, and I've just started really writing again. I don't have an answer for this one. The thing is it's not a conscious thing, or we wouldn't do it.

Karen Walker said...

This is a tough one, Pk. With my memoir, the passion carried me for two years until I finally gave up on finding an agent and decided my passion was strong enough to self-publish. You just have to see for yourself what your path needs to be.
Karen

kmckendry said...

I can sympathize. I've had plenty of rejections and I question my stories... I just have to keep believing that someday some editor/agent will like it enough to take a chance on me. Keep tryin!

Old Kitty said...

I hope you never lose the writerly passion no matter what!

Hugs! take care
x

Norma Beishir said...

PK, this happens to every writer, even those of us who have agents and have published several books. Our writing is so much a part of us that any form of rejection is taken personally.

You're definitely not alone!

KarenG said...

Wow these are great comments! Not sure what to add to your post and these comments, except to say I agree with everything! How's that for a useless comment?

Margo Kelly said...

You know what? It's hard. Simple truth.

You related it to marriage. Yup. There are days where I wonder if it'd be easier to be single. Sure. But, no, I don't get a divorce. I push through the bad day and strive to make the next one better. And I CHERISH the passionate days.

My teenage daughter is passionate about volleyball, but had a BAD coach last season. It damaged her passion (and self esteem). One day after practice, she was complaining and I couldn't take it anymore. So, in a proud (not) mamma moment, I said, "So why don't you just quit?" She was shocked. She responded, "I would never quit. Especially because of this one coach. I love volleyball and I won't let her ruin it for me."

Okay. I feel that way about writing. I love it. And I refuse to let the last or next rejection ruin it for me.

Brianna said...

My advice, for whatever it's worth - When your passion wanes, call on your faith. Hold tight to the belief you have in your abilities and let it carry you over the rejections.

Stacy Henrie said...

I think you can have both. I think you can write with passion - not worrying about anyone else or their opinions - until you start editing and maybe that's where the realism comes in.

Kittie Howard said...

Great post, PK. I think there are different types of passion, like the newly-wed passion you mentioned, there's the more tempered passion that comes with living life. You're living life as you write so there are times when, like washing clothes aren't as much fun five years into marriage, editing kinda wanes a bit.

M.J. Fifield said...

Lately I've wondered if I've lost my passion for writing. It's still all I think about from the moment I wake up to the moment when I happen to fall asleep (insomniac...don't sleep much) but it's starting to feel like more of a job than it used to. But I keep on keeping on because it still is the only thing I want to do.

I just have to find that spark again. Maybe writing and I need to go to couples' therapy.

A very nice post...thanks for sharing.

Jacqueline Howett said...

New perspective's also come to show you the way! Just keep writing what you love.


And best wishes to you on your present novel!

Marsha Sigman said...

You could do a little role reversal or dress up...wait this is about writing passion...

Never stop writing. Start something new while you are querying the previous manuscript. This is what I do and it really helps.

Christine Rains said...

Sometimes it's a bit hard to keep the passion. Yet in the long run, if you really love it, it'll stick around. Just treat it like a relationship. Romance it if you feel like you're losing passion. Play around with the story even if you don't keep the parts you come up with for it.

DL Hammons said...

Passion is ingrained in every one of us, as writers. There's no disconnecting it. Like anything else though, it can wane. I find the best defense from letting that happen is to seperate the business side of the industry, from the creative side. :)

Sarah Pearson said...

You know what? Sometimes that passion disappears, but what you're left with is love. And that doesn't fade. Sometimes it just takes a while to notice it.

Michael Offutt, Expert Critic said...

Oh yeah...the subjectivity in the writing world is a real issue for so many people. Just remember, agents are just people...just like the person that sits next to you in a cafeteria that has a stained shirt on. Just because they are agents doesn't make them any better than you. If a man with a beer stumbled out of his trailer park, glared at you next to the junkyard dog snapping at his heels and said, "Your writing sucks," would that get you down? Just ignore the naysayers and listen to your own voice.

Carol Riggs said...

I think discouragement and keeping the passion can be an issue whether you have an agent or not. It's great to realize ahead of time, though, that it's awfully subjective and not everyone will like our book!!

Jay Noel said...

Inspiration is a lot of freakin' work!

If it was easy, I guess everybody would be a best-seller, right? I think support groups like this one is a huge help. You're not alone.

DM said...

Writing is a passion for me. Every time I think of a new line or a new story, it lights that passion.

Melissa Bradley said...

I give myself permission to wallow a bit, then I pick myself up and keep on writing. Nothing like a new adventure to rekindle the spark. Writing and selling your baby are two of the most difficult things we can do. We risk everything by putting that part of ourselves out there. I believe that every story has its audience and that eventually they will connect. Big hugs and thank you for always being such a great support. Your vote really means the world to me.

Marissa Farrar said...

I've often said that a good review will make my day, but a bad review will ruin my week. As people, I think we're programmed to focus on the negatives. I checked my reviews for my novel 'Alone' on B&N recently. I've currently got 66 ratings and reviews, 45 of which are 4 or 5 stars, ten on which are 1 or 2 stars. It averages out at a solid 4 stars, yet it's always those 10 I come back to. The thing is, if you check the big authors books, Stephen King, Jodi Picoult, Stephanie Myer even, they have their share of 1 and 2 stars. At the end of the day, if we want to be authors we have to realise we're out in the public eye and that's always going to bring rejection in some form or another. If we want to be successful, we've just got to put our big girl panties on and get on with what we love.

Anonymous said...

It's me, Florence, otherwise know lately as "anon."

PK, I love this "novel" idea. Pardon the pun. There is no way to separate our passion from our insecurity. They are the odd couple, the mismatched bedmates that we all must lern to live with.

LTM said...

tough question. I think you just have to ride the waves. This is a challenging profession that emotionally shoots you so high and the dumps you in the toilet just as quickly.

Hang in there, just keep swimming, and keep your eye on the prize. Passion wanes, but it comes back. And the only way to ensure you won't make it is to give up. :o) <3

Madeline Bartos said...

Right now the only one rejecting my work is me. I need to realize that the sucky draft that exists now can be rewritten. And it will be. Passion is obsession squared, so they say.

Leslie Rose said...

I think passion and insecurity are closer on the emotional scale than we realize. I keep a bookmark of inspirational posts that kick start my slumps.

T C Mckee said...

HEY! Hope you are well. I've missed stopping by your blog. And I'd hire you to update mine. LOL.

When I feel insecure, I reach out to one or all of my critique partners. They usually tell me to knock it off or threaten to do bad things to me if I don't snap out of it. I think I'd be crazier than I already am without them. We all need that extra push sometimes, that reason to keep going. Let's face it, to want to be writer's in this day and time kind of means we're masochists too. It's a long grueling process, but I believe its worth it. The people we meet alone makes the journey worthwhile.

Angela Ackerman said...

For me, I have not yet sold, but I know it will happen. What I do to keep myself going is to let go of the things I have no control over. I can't make an editor request a book. I can't make an editor who did say yes. And even if they do say yes, I can't make an acquisitions team choose my book over the books other editors are pushing.

What do I have control over? I can keep striving to improve my writing, I can create an online presence to show I'm capable of connecting and getting myself out there and I can continue to write new product, improving my chances of publication.

I find for me, focusing energy on things I can control is the key to making it through this roller coaster ride.

Tanya Reimer said...

Leave yourself little reminders of why your MS is good enough to publish. Tape them to your garbage can so you read those notes before you pitch the entire thing. ;)

William Kendall said...

It might be more of a parallel topic, but I find that feeling down (or insecure, as the matter at hand is)... has the effect of draining creative energy out of us.

It comes to working our way through it.