April 11th, 2009 5:12 PM by Lehel Szucs
Write for Profit with a Passion and Avoid 'Analysis Paralysis'
By Carol Adler
You love to write with a passion, and you openly confess that you're in love with the Muse. You're always writing emails, letters to friends and family... you're a great blogger, and you're always the one who's asked to develop a newsletter because people know you're so good at it.
Writing is as natural to you as breathing, eating, walking, talking, and sleeping, and no flame burns brighter or with greater intensity than your passion to write.
So... what is this thing called love, and who is the Muse? How does it all begin?
That Special 'Click'
There I was, sitting cozy and comfy in one of those large leather college dormitory lounge chairs with a list of next semester's courses and pad of paper balanced on my lap. Leafing through the English courses, I noted that a famous novelist would be giving a creative writing course for beginners.
My eyes lit up. Should I? Should I follow my passion and simply dump the extra philosophy course that I didn't need anyway, and enroll in that writing class?!! Why not?
The professor and Best-Selling Published Author strode to the front of the room (tweed jacket with leather-patches on the elbows and Meerschaum pipe tucked into his pocket; beard, with hair graying at the temples) and glared at all thirty of us as if we'd just stolen his best excuse for being alive.
"So you want to write?" was his accusation. "WHY?"
I was so shocked I just sat there and let that BIG WHY drip slowly into my psyche like a gutter so imploded with dirty rainwater, it had no other choice than to dump. All I could hear was the echo of this man's pain, loneliness, frustration, and fear that the Next Book would not be a Best Seller.
Are you crazy? he was asking. Why do you want to put yourself through the hell of a high-risk life with few rewards and dubious returns (how many authors really do make the Best Seller List)? Why would anyone want to deal with the agony and ecstasy of 1) writer's block, 2) jealous colleagues, and 3) pandering fans?
My answer came back loud and clear... in fact so loud and clear, I've never forgotten that classroom moment nor the dreamy "lounge chair visionary" experience that preceded it. Here is my response to the big WHY: Because I cannot not write.
Incidentally, this creative writing professor never met the class again after that first session -- which ended as soon as he'd volleyed his two questions. Out the door he walked and was unavailable thereafter either for class or office hours.
I didn't mind. He'd served his purpose simply by delivering that all-important "WHY?" question that motivated me to ask "Why not?"
I had fallen in love with the Muse and knew from that time on that I was going to become a professional writer.
Let the passion flow and write as if there's no tomorrow
Do you know the fastest way to get a monkey to sit on your back and start criticizing every idea, every word you write? Enroll in a literature course. Literary analysis is the most effective way I know for drying up the creative juices and terrifying the living bejeebies out of any creative germ that has ever had a desire to worm its way into your brain.
Although I was always a voracious reader, I found no value in conducting autopsies and examining cadavers. Literature for me was always a living experience.
Literary academia seemed to start with the premise that we're dealing with a corpse, something dead that had to be dissected and analyzed in order to find out -- what? How it compared to another work? What great ideas could be extracted from it in order to expound on a related thesis? All of these seemed like nothing more than intellectual exercise and as a philosophy major, I was getting my fill of that.
Clearly, one of the basic goals of education is to teach a person how to process information. Therefore, I did have compassion for those students who had not yet been saturated by the pincer-and-pound process of giving professors something to grade and get paid for.
I also recognize and support the value of learning how to think, reflect, research, and respond, so I don't want to totally dismiss this factory approach to opening the mind.
Objectivity has its place. Would you like to have a surgeon standing over you while you're lying on the operating table, who is reminiscing about last night's dinner party, or about how surprised his wife will be next week when he drives home in her new (birthday present) Lexus? There's a time and place for everything.
The time and place for feeling is when you wish to give or receive a more insightful, pleasurable experience.
When I feel, I want to feel because I feel. I don't want someone to ask me to prove it or talk about what made the author tick. Was it not enough that the author made me tick? Was it not more than enough that I plunged into the novel, article, poem, or short story with such enthusiasm and zest, I couldn't put it down... and found myself reading and re-reading it? Isn't that enough proof that it's a great work?
No matter what: write with a passion -- and publish to write with a passion!
A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions: 1) What am I trying to say? 2) What words will express it? 3) What image or idiom will make it clearer? 4) Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? -- George Orwell (1903 - 1950)"Politics and the English Language," 1946