Saturday, November 21, 2009

Passion for Writing

Post by NCW Director Kerrie Flanagan

A few weeks ago I presented at the Douglas County Writers Conference. All of the other presenters and attendees had the priviledge of hearing the keynote speech by Denver-based author/journalist Shari Caudron. Her topic was passion.

Shari found herself at a crossroads when she turned forty. For decades she dabbled in various hobbies in order to discover her one true passion. She tried Scrabble, snowshoeing, Buddhism, bridge, belly dancing, golf, fencing, running, piano, backpacking, gardening…

She says in her book, Who Are You People?, “Through all these years, through all these hobbies, nothing ever took hold and swelled into a grand, all-consuming, get-a-load-of-this obsession...And once I hit forty, once I was no longer obsessed with finding a job, snaring a mate or buying a house—I’d don’t all that, sometimes more than once—I began to want more.”

So she set out on a quest. A quest to spend time with those people we might call fanatics: Barbie collectors, dog-lovers, Josh Grobin fans, ice-fisherman, Trekkies, storm chasers, gamers… She wanted to find out what made them tick and what they had that she didn’t have. During her three-year trek, she met some amazing people and her answer came to her.

It was like the moment Dorothy met up with the Glenda at the end of Wizard of Oz, Shari realized she didn’t need to search for her passion—it was with her the whole time. She was a writer. Her problem was, she had been so focused on publishing, that she forgot about the words.

Like Shari, we are all writers, but there are times when our excitement for writing fades. We question why we ever started and wonder where the passion went. Here are three steps she shared to help nurture our passion for writing.

1. Claim it: Claim the type of writing you want to do and write about what matters to you.
Finish these sentences:
  • Starting tomorrow I'm going to take my writing passion seriously by ________________.
  • What I most want to write about is________________.
2. Comfort it: Give it what it needs to thrive and be happy.
Finish these sentences:
  • I write best when___________.
  • I write because I want to ___________.
3. Stand back: Get out of your own way. Let the writing tell you where it wants to go.

"It is an act of courage to face the page,
but the writing, when honored,
will never disappoint."
~Shari Caudron

Shari Caudron is an essayist, contributing writer for 5280, and author of WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE? (winner of the Colorado Book Award, and chosen for Entertainment Weekly’s MUST list). She is also a writing coach who works with new and experienced writers who want to take their writing careers to the next level: i.e., breaking into the national magazine market, boosting their annual income, writing a memoir, or researching and writing a book. Check out her website at


Patricia Stoltey said...

It amazes me how some people seem to be born knowing their passion, while others of us (like me) have so many diverse interests that picking one to focus on is almost painful. (Contest -- to prove I read the blog)

Carol Kilgore said...

Kerrie, this post reminds us why we write - something we tend to forget in the daily grind of getting the words on the page. For those who write, writing is our passion, our Grand Barbie and New World all rolled into one.

PD Cremers said...

Wow! What a mouthful. I am right there with Shari. I have so many interests in life, and have thought just because of those interests, I had to give a million percent of my energy to each as they came up over time. The reality is the fact that I am a passionate person, compassionate, interested and curious, and because of those qualities, I make a good writer because I dive into whatever interests me as it interests me. I love nothing more than the "new," be it perspective or experiences or socks for that matter. And that is what keeps me engaged with my world that I can better share my perspective with my audience. Thanks for the post. CONTEST...

Janie B said...

I wish I could get a hold on my passion. Whatever it is. I know I like creating, but creating what? I enjoy writing, painting, drawing, making art projects, doing crafts, etc. But, passion? Wish I knew.

Debbe Ledbetter said...

Maybe we all focus too much on what is our passion and less on the importance of living in the "now". It reminds me of the Chinese proverb;

"Before enlightenment chop wood and carry water; after enlightenment chop wood and carry water."

Writing is easiest, most comforting and insightful when I remember to get out of my own way. When I don't force it, when its simple and straightforward, writing can be powerful.

Debbe Ledbetter said...

I forgot to put the word "CONTEST" with my comment!

Laura Lee aka the Midlife Crisis Queen said...

HI Kerrie:

I liked this post so much I stole parts of it and put it on the MidlifeCrisisQueen!

Thanks for this and your CONTEST!

Laura Lee

Galen Kindley--Author said...

Yep, sometimes I DO wonder what the point is; self-confidence does wane. These steps will for sure help. Never thought of it that way before.

By the way, the story about the self-cleaning oven you posted on my blog was very funny. Good short story in there waiting to be told. Thanks.

Best Regards, Galen

Imagineering Fiction Blog

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