- Pride in a job done well. It’s amazing when you write a passage that really sings. I wouldn’t call it a muse thing or being struck by lightning, but craft, at its best. You have managed to really get into the head of your character and moment happens that shines on the page. We all aspire to that constantly, but truth be told it simply doesn’t. I read a book by Lisa Cron, Wired for Story, and she talks about how good prose are wonderful but the real trick is telling a good story. So, it’s not hugely important to be able to write amazing prose to be a successful writer, but you do have to be able to convey story well. All that said, it’s still a joy to write a good scene.
- Magic. There are moments when you write when magic happens. You are in the head of your character and you have a fence post you are traveling towards, assuming you have even a sketchy outline, and then the character goes in a completely different direction than you had planned. You didn’t see it coming, but it works even better. Those are the moments we all write for. It makes for more work potentially, because now you may have to replan the outline, but let me tell you, it is worth it. It happens with free-writing as well, when you characters do something that surprises you.
- Satisfaction. When I’m writing I don’t feel like I should be doing something else. I never feel guilty about the time I spend at the keyboard. Not like when I’m playing a video game or watching a show. Entertainment is great and all, but it’s almost like I have wasted that time. Not always, but in the aggregate, there is a lot of time that could be spent doing something more productive. I imagine any artist that is working in their craft, whether it be music or sculpture or painting, feels much the same way.
- I get a sense of accomplishment when I make progress. I don’t usually set a word goal, but if I can put time aside to write and actually do it, I’m making progress. Some days it’s 6000 words and some days it 100. But it’s all progress. You may have heard the phrase, “There are no wasted words.” And this is true. If nothing else it is good practice and works towards a better writing habit. When I was a young pilot, I had an instructor talk about the difference between knowledge and experience that has stayed with me for decades. Think of holding two large bags. When you start they are both empty. You can’t fill the experience bag with wishes, it only comes with time, but what you can do is study hard and fill up your knowledge bag. Over time the experience bag fills as well and begins to balance the knowledge bag so you don’t have to work so hard studying. It will begin to become second nature. Writing works the same way. You study the craft to fill your knowledge bag and words fill the experience bag. When you have written enough words it starts to become easier and make more sense.
- Doing what you love. I went through a good portion of my life not really sure what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was around 45 when I decided to started working on my first novel. Oh, I had dabbled with it lots of times, doing character sketches or writing scenes for a role-playing game, but I had never committed to it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life when I graduated high school, and ended up falling into a career flying jets for the US Air Force. It was always nice to answer the question, “What do you do for a living?” And I had a successful, relatively satisfying career, but it was never something I was passionate about. I envied the people I fly with that had dreamed of flying since they were very young. I preach to my kids to follow their dreams, and we encouraged them to try different things to see what they were passionate about. And it worked pretty well so far. They are all young, but they are on their journeys doing things they love and getting paid for it. I haven’t achieved that part yet, the getting paid for it, but I am forging ahead and writing the next story.
What are you passionate about? What do you love about it?