Is Writing Your Passion?
“Being a writer is something I am, not something I do.”
So said the late Christopher Hitchens when he was in the grip of stage-four cancer and worried about not being able to write every day.
The thought of not being able to write terrified him; it was such an endemic part of his soul that he couldn’t not write. He had to. The thought, then, of not doing it absolutely destroyed him, and he was fortunate to be able to write until just a couple of days before his untimely death in 2011.
I feel the same way about writing; it’s a compulsion, and I can’t bear the thought of not doing it. That thought is a terribly painful one. Recently, I went up to Glasgow for a couple of days, preventing me from actively writing, and I was really conscious of it (don’t get me wrong, I had a fabulous time going to a gig and sight-seeing, but the compulsion was still there). When I got home, I realised that I had been writing some articles in my head, about my visits, and quickly dashed off a few hundred words on my experiences. I can’t seem to switch off, but nor do I want to.
Is writing a natural state of affairs for you? Do you do it because you have to, or are you writing for a different reason? Perhaps it’s the money, or the fame, or the eternal glory. If it’s any of those things, then let me disabuse you of that notion: you won’t get very far seeking money, fame or eternal glory as a writer; some writers get one of these, a few even get two, and even fewer get all three. It can happen, but just not very often, and they achieved their goals because writing is their passion and that shines through from the page into readers’ brains.
Write because you have a genuine passion to communicate thoughts, ideas and opinions. Write because you need to and will burst if you don’t. But please, don’t write if you think that you’ve got a book inside you that “deserves” telling; you’ll just come to the table with pre-conceived ideas that won’t be attractive to a reader. The best works develop naturally, and the twists and turns of a plan can surprise you just as much as they surprise everyone else.
Most of all, don’t write because you want to give a diatribe or a lecture; set out a stall and promote a way of thinking, certainly, but don’t lecture and don’t be boring. Write because you care.
© 2016 Matthew Munson
Available under the Thanet Writers Education Policy
Thanet-based author Matthew has three novels published by Inspired Quill, is an inveterate blogger, and writing is his passion.