You want to be a writer? No, Really?
This is, perhaps, the most important question I ask my students at the beginning of my writing course. If they’re not sure, if they scratch their heads, study their shoes, or choose that moment to text their friends, I advise them to take a break and think seriously about their motivation.
What I feel like telling them is: Are you sure you want to do this?
Those of us who contemplate a career in writing, specifically in storytelling as screenwriters or novelists, had better know.
If you’re not driven by the unstoppable desire to be a writer, if you’re not obsessed with understanding every nuance, texture and colour of a word and how it plays out in a sentence, if your pulse doesn’t race when you deliver that golden passage, you’d be better off taking up darts instead.
Writing is hard. Accomplished writing is even harder.
Earning a living as a writer is possible, thanks to the tablet revolution and platforms such as Apple and Amazon, but it demands steely dedication, talent and luck. To make it as a writer you need to put your head down, keep improving your craft on a daily basis, and never, ever, give up.
Knowledge and experience of the world are not enough, although they are required. Deep philosophical ideas are enriching, but they too, are not the secret. Ideas, at the cost of story, do not make for compelling tales, except for niche or elite readers. Nor, does artistic temperament on its own. Sensitivity towards others and observational skills are essential, but they, too, are not sufficient.
So, what, in addition to the above, does one need to become a successful writer? The answer, I think, is rather obvious:
Passion is the secret ingredient that makes even the toughest journey enjoyable. Passion turns work into play and sweat into joy. Without passion you lose focus. Without it you merely slog.
So, why decide to be a writer?
Because passion compels you to. It leaves you with no choice. You can’t imagine doing anything else. Not in a million years. If you can, you’d be better off taking up darts.
Passion is the essential ingredient in developing your writing career.