Can't start that screenplay, that book, that movie, that play?
Maybe you don't want to be a writer.
Don't get mad. It's not a criticism. It's about finding your "True North."
Could it be you really want to be an actor? Or a producer? Or a director? And you are forcing yourself to write because you think you should? Or maybe you can't write that screenplay because deep down you don't want to write screenplays. You want to write poems. Or sketches. Or greeting cards. But you don't think those things sound as cool or "acceptable" as saying, "I write movies."
Believe me, I understand.
I worked in journalism for years because I thought that's what people who wanted to be "writers" were supposed to do. It was a job folks understood. You could make a living. The problem was, I quickly found out I didn't like writing "journalism." So I shuttled over to the editing side of the biz and for years quietly beat myself up for being a writer who didn't want to write.
Getting liberated.And then one day I was introduced to sketch writing. It was liberating. I loved it. It re-ignited my passion. I wanted to write! I really wanted to write!
I found out I love writing scripts. I'm not saying I would never write a book or anything else, but I know my thrill comes from seeing something I've written come to life on stage or screen -- especially if there is comedy involved. I found my True North.
So if you're stuck, don't just question what you are writing. Look at why you are writing it. Be honest. Is it really the -- genre, style, format -- you want to be working in?
It is so easy to get caught up in other people's writing goals. Just because someone else wants to write a book a year doesn't mean you have to. You can write that teen romance web series or that line of greeting cards you've been secretly dreaming about.
I truly believe you will only make time to write what you want to write. (Unless you're being paid, but that's a topic for another post). You'll write what is fun, even if it's hard. And once you acknowledge your True North it takes away the jealousies or need to compete with other people. Because now you have your own path.
A practical way to find your passion.So how do you find this True North? It's not hard, but it does require some soul-searching.
I used the book the Artist's Way and I swear by it 100 percent. Sure it's "self-helpy." But it is also very practical and gets you to your True North pretty quickly. Without it, I would have never found script writing or stand-up and would probably still be laboring away at a newspaper somewhere -- if I hadn't been laid off by now.
If you don't have time to delve into a book, here is a quick little "Find Your Passion" questionnaire.
But I do want to note that a True North can evolve as you evolve. So it may be a good idea to keep the questionnaire around and fill it out again every couple years.
What have you got to lose? If you're going to make New Year's Resolutions (goals) anyway...shouldn't they actually be your own?
Have you already found your True North? How did you do it?