Monday, March 14, 2016

Why We Write: Hobby vs. Passion

For the past few critique group sessions, the conversation during the walk back to the cars has sounded a little bit like this:

Me: “Well, that was painful.”
Emer: “Yup.”
Me: “I think I’ll go home and delete everything I’ve ever written.”
Emer: “Me too… *sigh* Why do we do this, again?”

In case you haven’t noticed, creative people struggle. We struggle to make money. We struggle with our craft. We struggle with crazy people who don’t think our work is the pinnacle of perfection. The struggle is real. This leads to a very important question: Why the heck do we torture ourselves with the struggle if it’d be so much simpler to just collect stamps and cats? We must be insane.

Honestly, reading back over this blog makes me shake my head at myself. Is it really that bad? Good grief, I’m making such a huge deal out of nothing. Yet, if you’ve ever been the writer who realizes your favorite scene doesn’t make sense, or the artist whose friends inform you your angles are off, you know. You’ve felt the pain. It’s heartbreak. Self-loathing. Frustration. Disgust. All the reasons you’ve ever thought of to drop it all and go back to retail rise up around you and won’t go away.

This has been my writing life for the past three weeks. It hasn’t been pretty, people. And yet, while it hasn’t been pretty, it has also been temporary. I had a revelation last Friday which led me to the startling realization that my writing doesn’t suck. I’m not the worst writer on the planet. I don’t need to delete everything I’ve ever written. Gasp!

You see, some people are hobby writers. They like writing stories and putting pen to paper. For them, writing is an escape, kind of like a mini vacation. And that’s great. If this is you, don’t feel like you should worry about being any other kind of writer. While writing for me is definitely an escape, it’s also far more than that. I’m passionate about it. It’s ridiculously hard, painful, and frustrating, but I always go back to it. No matter how much critique notes make me weep crocodile tears, I constantly find myself back at the keyboard, writing even more words to submit to beta readers. That’s the difference between a hobby and a passion: one is only for fun, and the other involves work even when it hurts.

We do this because we are so passionate about stories, it would hurt more to stop writing than it does to work on our craft.

Michelle's new project is a YA sci-fi/fantasy featuring a crazy girl with a rainbow birthmark, bad guys with cool guns, a ginger, explosions, and a pair of sisters who can move things with their minds. 


  1. Way back when I was a professional student (I prefer the term academia nut) I took a few creative writing classes. When it came to critiques, they usually began “I loved your story, it was so interesting, but…” As soon as I heard, the word “but” I shut down and wanted to crawl into a hole. Because of this, I stopped writing in 1985.

    In the past decade, I was lured out of my writing retirement and now find myself with a stack of first drafts. A critique group would be the right thing to guide me through the revision process. I think I can now handle the criticism, especially if they gave me a cookie before they something mean. Cookies make most things more pleasant. I may attempt one of the online critique groups, but internet cookies just aren’t the same.

    1. You should find an in-person critique group! When you find the right mix of people, it helps everyone involved. Plus it's just fun to hang out regularly with writers :)