Passion, writing, and a little bit of Shrek

This morning my four-year-old daughter and I were in the car alone, and I decided to put on the soundtrack to Shrek Jr. the Musical. My two older daughters are currently in the production, so we’ve been singing the songs a lot, lately. During one particularly upbeat song, the music swelled and Fiona belted a high note. Naturally, Scarlett and I sang right along with just as much passion, holding our jazz hands in proper theatrical performance style. Then the song ended and she bounced in her seat, eager to sing the next one with just as much gusto as the last.

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It occurred to me that there are times my writing lacks this type of passion.

Just a few weeks ago, I attended a writer’s conference and had the opportunity to sit down with one of the faculty members to discuss the query letter I’m currently sending out for a manuscript. I’d already received a number of rejections – totally expected, but still stunk– and I wanted to pick her brain to find out if there was anything more I could be doing to make some headway in finding an agent. 

“This lacks passion.” That was the first thing she said after reading my short but to-the-point letter summing up the work that represented the better part of two years of my life. “You tell me what the book’s about, but you don’t make me care.”

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Ouch.

I didn’t make her care. *Sigh* How could I have spent so much time pouring my all into a manuscript I believe so deeply in, yet have zero passion when telling others about it? No wonder none of the agents were interested in it.

“Sit down and tell a friend about your book. Tell her the background, the characters, what makes it special. Keep talking until you feel the same passion you had when you wrote it. Then write down those things in your query letter.” Her advice was exactly what I needed to hear. 

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Since that time I’ve realized this same principle applies to other areas of my writing life, as well. There are times when I sit down to write because ‘I have to’ or ‘It’s been too long since I’ve worked on this manuscript’. And those are the times I feel as if I’m trudging through mud. Go figure, right?

What about that passion?

So, I’ve taken a new stance on what I choose to write or edit on any given day: only the things I’m passionate about right at that moment. So what if I’d planned on editing 2 more chapters in my YA novel? If I don’t feel inspired, then it will likely be a waste of time in the long run. If it’s a devotional for ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ I have bopping around in my head, then that’s what I need to be writing at the moment. That and nothing else.

Ya know what? I’ve had a much better few weeks of writing than I’ve had in a while. Maybe there’s something to this passion thing, after all.

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What about you? What drives you to do your best writing? Can you tell the difference in your quality of writing when you’re passionate about something? I’d love to hear your comments below!

Happy reading, friends!

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