Wednesday, November 15, 2017

What to write next? What is your passion?

When I’m underground, taking a subway between New Jersey and New York, I often find myself passing the time not by reading but with a puzzle. Usually it’s a crossword or a Sudoku. Ten minutes or so is often just enough time, to solve a puzzle or two but not quite enough to delve too deeply into a book.

If I had my druthers, I’d prefer to work on a crossword than a Sudoku, however. I was just working on a hard Sudoku a moment ago and discovered late in the game that I’d made a mistake somewhere. I suppose I could have spent the time to find my mistake and correct it and eventually complete the puzzle. I’d fix a crossword, but it’s just not as satisfying for me on a Sudoku. It's not my passion.

Satisfaction in the work and knowing it’s worth doing are important motivators to finishing a piece, whether it’s a short story, novel, poem, song lyric, magazine article, or anything on your writing docket. For me, a crossword puzzle is simply more entertaining than a Sudoku, even though I enjoy both. With fiction or nonfiction, it helps immensely that I care about the characters or the subject of what I’m writing or editing.

In the same light, when it comes to selecting what to write next, I find that passion for the subject tends to be the deciding factor. Having the knowledge about and experience in a subject certainly matter, and knowing how and where to do the research does too. I don’t know about you, but I think I’ll get more done when I have a passion for the story, a passion for the characters.

It helps the reader, too. That passion comes through in the writing. Write with passion (and well), and your readers will feel the life in your characters, smell what they smell, discover what they discover. It will affect your readers’ experience of the story.

Like me with a Sudoku, a story that doesn’t quite have the same passion is still enjoyable and worth reading. It might make you think. But I can tell you stories about favorite crossword puzzles; I couldn’t do the same for a Sudoku. And I can tell you about my favorite authors and the passion that comes through in their stories; then there are stories that are…fine.

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