The Write Passion Like it, write it
By Judy L. Adourian
Look at your own bookshelf and you'll find clues to your writing passion.
As I write this, my husband is washing a sink full of dirty dishes, my seven-year-old son is “folding” his own laundry, and my four-year-old is “mowing” the backyard with his bubble mower. An hour from now I will undoubtedly find crusty spaghetti on a plate, underwear hanging out of a bureau, and a still shaggy lawn. But none of that matters because I’m doing what I love — writing a how-to article. Some writers find such nonfiction work tedious and boring. I, however, become energized while formulating new ways of expressing fundamental writing principles. How did I discover I liked writing how-to articles? The same way you can discover what you like to write: by reading, writing, talking, and listening.
The first step in discovering what you write best is to look at what fills your bookshelves. Are your shelves over-flowing with romance novels? Or do you have stacks of mystery novels? Are anthologies of short stories or personal essays more to your liking? Do you have more works by Stephen King or Sidney Sheldon? If you have a passion for reading poetry, chances are good that you’ll have a talent for writing poems.
At the same time, notice what you don’t have on your bookshelves. If you don’t have any film scripts in your library because all the technical components of the script make your eyes cross and distract you from the following the plot, then perhaps a career writing movie scripts is not in your future. If you have more anthologies than novels, it’s a safe bet that you’ll enjoy writing short pieces rather than long ones.
Next take a look at what you currently write. I’m not talking about your “formal” pieces, but rather the stories you write in your letters, emails, Holiday letters, and journals. When you send emails to friends telling them about what a fool Aunt Sue was at the family Fourth of July picnic, do you spend more time describing what Aunt Sue looks like or quoting what she said? Is your annual Holiday letter filled with metaphors or straight forward, hard core facts? Do you write more in first person or third person? Everything you write from your grocery list (is it organized in the order you thought of each item or the order in which you’ll find it in the store) to a postcard you send on vacation (can you say everything in a short amount of space or not) reveals your natural writing style. Match those clues to the genre that necessitates those skills and you’ll find your path.
The third step is to talk with other people — writers and non-writers alike. Do you prefer asking questions to answering them? Then perhaps writing interviews would appeal to you. Do you enjoy humorous exchanges of daily life? Consider writing humorous personal essays. Would you rather debate current political issues of the day? Then nonfiction work might be more up your alley. If talking about blood, guts, and gore on a casual level makes you want to wretch, then writing a true crime book probably isn’t for you.
Finally, to know what you write best, listen to others. Attend readings and book signings by other authors and then gage your emotional response. Do poetry readings help you see the world in a new way and leave you feeling rejuvenated or do they lull you to sleep or, worse yet, into a state of confusion? Are stage readings without costumes and sets as energizing for you as a full-blown production or do you need the complete package to appreciate a play? Did the lecture at the mystery writer’s or romance writer’s convention entice you to try writing in that genre or overwhelm you with self-doubt? Each writing conference, book signing, or writer’s group can introduce you to a host of genres that may or may not appeal to you. Taking workshops, seminars, and classes in as many genres as possible will help you find as well help you eliminate avenues on your writing career path.
Finding what you write best is as easy as looking at your home and family. If you find yourself excited to clean out your basement after thirty years of procrastination rather than to work on your historical romance, chances are you’re not a historical romance writer. If, however, you serve your spouse, children, and pets dinner at midnight because you couldn’t pull yourself away from the mystery novel you’re writing, chances are pretty good you’ve found your genre. Which reminds me, despite how much I’ve enjoyed our time together, I have to pull myself away now and go rewash the plate, refold the laundry and, yes, mow the lawn.
Judy L. Adourian is the owner of Writeyes, the Executive Editor for NEWN magazine, and the Rhode Island Regional Representative for the International Women's Writing Guild. She is currently developing an innovative workshop based on her philosophy of cross-crafting and multi-marketing. She can be reached through her website at http://www.writeyes.com.