What Drives All Passionate Writers

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Passionate Writer Definition

I know what your first guess is—and it’s wrong.

Let me explain.

We all like to think that writers are the same. That all writers fit into one stereotype of typing furiously on a laptop with brief intervals of tugging at one’s hair by the roots. And we shuffle to our local cafes and libraries as if it were the zoo so that we can watch them suffer unnaturally in their natural writing habitat.

But this doesn’t describe all writers. In fact, the definition of writer changes as how we digest content changes. There are writers for ads, magazines, websites, blogs, ebooks, white papers, newsletters—the list is close to endless.

Put simply, what writers write, how writers write, when writers write and why writers write can’t be the same for all writers.

Although the meaning of writer has evolved, the perception of passionate writer never alters. And there’s a difference between the two, despite all the changing mediums and audiences for the written word.

No, it’s not the obvious.

A passionate writer doesn’t love one’s work more than a writer. Just because a writer is reserved about one’s passion towards the written art doesn’t mean writers don’t have a heart.

Not your first guess? Of course not.

But your initial hunch is off too. Yes, many passionate writers love to read. Some only read classics. Some only read one’s select genre. Some only tap into literary fiction in magazines. And some enjoy a mix of an entire library.

And yes, many passionate writers simply don’t read.

But writers also love to read. There are technical writers that read the classics, copywriters that enjoy children’s chapter books and content marketers that get a kick out of sci-fi.

So, What Do All Passionate Writers Have in Common?

This might come as a shock to many of my readers—and many more passionate writers. That’s because some passionate writers don’t even know their real motivation behind their drive to get a story on the page.

What fuels a passionate writer is pain.

Before you react, think about it. A passionate writer claims the craft as one’s identity. Not a fancy title. Not a means to a paycheck. Not a weekend hobby.

A passionate writer views writing as the way of communication. This writer’s written expression is more accurate than a painted or photographed portrait. What a passionate writer writes for you is a gift because it exposes something deeper and potentially more mortifying than simply walking into a room naked.

That’s why passionate writers are wounded when their words are criticized and ridiculed. You’re not just mocking their talent. You’re laughing at their pain.

So many stories that we love and cherish were born from pain. And we love these stories because we know that pain. Sometimes it’s a haunting memory. Sometimes we see it in the mirror.

Writing is that medicine to heal the pain. Passionate writers—whether or not they realize the pain exists—use writing as a way to explore the pain, make sense of it and heal from it.

When you think of writing that way, some bizarre stories start to make sense. It wasn’t reality they were portraying. It was the reality of the emotions behind the pain.

What Does That Make Me?

For me, I write to put the pain into words. I sing to get out the sound. I run to burn off the rage.

Many of my friends and family are probably scratching their heads. How can someone so happy be in pain?

Mom, you can stop researching local “hospitals” and self-help books.

Not all passionate writers walk around morosely. In fact, many of us lead happy lives. We like to save feeling that pain for when we write.

And we also like feeling happiness. We embrace the fullness of joy as well as we express sadness and anger.

I get to live my life as both writer and passionate writer. By day, my writing is fueled by entrepreneurial energy that’s exciting and inspiring. By night, my writing explores depths that I fear yet I desire.

What’s always constant in my writing is the truth. Isn’t that all passionate writers really want to find?

Are you a writer or a passionate writer? Share your story below.

The Real Stats Behind Illiteracy

When it comes to illiteracy, 757 million people around the world are illiterate.
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When it comes to illiteracy, 757 million people around the world are illiterate.

Credit: Grammarly

Many of my blog readers love to write—and even more love to read.

That makes sense. Even if we aren’t passionate about writing, we all enjoy taking in a good story. Storytelling has been part of the human experience for countless centuries. And many stories we take in are told in the form of words.

But not everyone can enjoy a story that way. In fact, 757 million people around the world cannot read.

That’s a lot of people who can’t read a good story.

In honor of International Literacy Day, Grammarly created this infographic to highlight the statistics of global illiteracy:

Literacy Day Grammarly Infographic

Do you think illiteracy is an issue? Share your insights below.

Why Reread Books?

Why reread books? Because you're missing out.
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Why reread books? Because you're missing out.

Confession: I avoid rereading books when possible.

But that’s not possible when you’re in grad school.

Books you read in high school will appear on your class syllabus as required reading. And having read it five years ago doesn’t count.

I once considered rereading books a waste of time. I have reading lists of books I want to read once, and you can’t highlight a book twice.

Yep, I’m that person.

But there’s value to rereading books. Although my grad school days are long behind me, I still pick up a book I’ve already read from time to time.

And you should too.

So why reread books? Because you’re missing out if you don’t.

You Missed A Lot The First Go-Around

Story details go unnoticed the first time you read a book. Since you already know the “what happens next” parts, reread the book to focus on the little things that heighten each plot point, character, and setting. Can you spot the foreshadowing? Can you find hints of a character’s point of view who isn’t telling the story?

You Have A Different Perspective

When I first read Catcher In The Rye as a teenager, I immediately identified with Holden’s point of view and claimed him to be misunderstood.

After rereading the novel as a grad school grown-up, I found him to be very whiny and depressing.

It’s hard to read a book objectively. And when we don’t read objectively, our personalities and life events change how we perceive a story. Were you in a bad place when you read the book before? Read it before a life-changing event? Reread the book through your new filter to see what you notice now about the story.

You Should Analyze Story Structure

Reading is always a constructive task for writers. After you let yourself enjoy the story the first read-through, it’s time to get to work.

What’s working in the story? What’s not? How did the writer succeed in conveying X, Y, and Z? These are questions you should be asking (and perhaps journaling about) when you reread so that you know how to improve your own writing.

Why do you reread books? Share your thoughts below.

Writer, Meet Your Audience

As a writer, do you know exactly who your audience is? And why they matter?
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As a writer, do you know exactly who your audience is? And why they matter?

Credit: chrissonksen.wordpress.com

When I was an undergrad student, I had a stubborn view on audience. I argued that the writer wrote solely for him/herself, that the reader either enjoys the writer’s art or does not.

How wrong I was.

I tried arguing this stance in formal papers to professors. Yet their red pens circled and criticized, pointing out that my argument “only further proved that the writer must know their audience.”

And my audience was against me.

My stubborn view changed after my Writing and Genre capstone class. The professor assigned a romance novel for us to read. That’s right, a romance novel.

Although I love a good soap opera, the romance novel audience did not include me.

But there was a point. After reading the romance novel, the professor asked us to consider these questions:

  • Who would choose to read this novel?
  • Why would they choose to read this novel?
  • In what ways is the writer fulfilling the needs of the reader?

It was the first time I ever considered the reader having a point of view. I was so wrapped up in being the writer that I forgot what it was like to be the reader.

Sometimes the biggest lessons are saved for last.

This lesson continued when I started my marketing career in higher education. I loved the college I was hired to promote, but I couldn’t write my ads from my point of view. Boasting stats and rankings wouldn’t have resonated with our potential student audience.

In order to be effective, I had to consider the audience’s point of view and write from there.

So how does the writer take on the reader’s point of view?

Think about a particular writing project of yours and ask yourself these questions:

  • What is happening in your reader’s life that would make your writing resonate?
  • How would your reader define an enjoyable reading experience?
  • How does your reader decide what is interesting to read?
  • What are barriers in your reader’s life that keeps him/her from reading your writing?
  • Who and what influences your reader’s decision to read your writing?
  • What would your reader admire about your writing?
  • What would your reader dislike about your writing?

Knowing who your reader is, are you fulfilling the needs of your reader? How can you enrich their experience more? How can you make sure they choose to read your writing?

Reflect on these questions periodically as you write and revise your work. Things change over time: Your writing, your audience, even your perspective on life, your work, and your audience.

Even I changed my perspective.