Given the highly competitive nature of the nonfiction writing industry, it’s easy to focus on what to write, so your work gets published rather than on what you really want to write. But that’s a surefire way to get off track. And when your writing career takes a detour, you lose passion for your work and end up frustrated and burned out.
Believe me…I know this better than almost any writer. I’ve been off track for a while.
How I Lost My Passion
I set out to write books, articles, and blog posts about spiritual and personal growth. I was super stoked about topics like creative thought, human potential, Kabbalah, the sabbath, success strategies, and consciousness. In fact, my first blog was all about these topics. (Now you can read posts on these topics at www.asthespiritmovesme.com.)
While my first literary agent took me on for a book related to the Law of Attraction and Kabbalah, to date, that book has only made its way into the world as a very short, self-published version. Why? She determined that selling spiritual books was challenging and said I would get published more quickly by writing about topics related to my areas of expertise, like blogging or writing.
Now, 11 years or so later, I have three traditionally published books under my belt as well as a host of ebooks. However, almost all of them are related in some way to blogging, nonfiction writing, and publishing.
I’m not complaining about my success. I’m profoundly grateful that I have been published by a great publisher and was able to turn my books into Amazon bestsellers. However, taking the suggested route—the easier one—to authorship led me away from the books I so passionately wanted to write.
As a result, a decade after I received my first traditional publishing book contract, I found myself feeling dispassionate about my writing work, overwhelmed by the tasks necessary to continue supporting that work, and so burned out that I didn’t have the energy or desire to pursue new writing projects.
Not only that, I no longer recognized myself (nor did anyone who knew me when I first began my journey to authorship). I’d lost myself in the process of becoming an author. More than that, I felt as if I’d sold my soul to get my name on the cover of a traditionally published book.
This could have happened just as easily if I had only pursued self-published book projects I knew would sell. It could have happened if I’d only taken writing gigs that paid. Actually, anything that took me away from fulfilling my purpose as a writer and pursuing projects I felt deeply connected to would have generated the same result.
Words as a Reflection of Your Soul
Recently, I came across this quote from Abraham Joshua Heschel: “We forget that words are a repository of the spirit.”
As I continue to fight my way out of the writing slump I have found myself in, Heschel’s words ring even more true. Indeed, for the writer, in particular, words are how we communicate and share our spirit.
When we create written content that comes from our passion for a subject, we write from our soul. And, most often, we write from a place of purpose—soul purpose. We write to fulfill our purpose.
When we stop writing about what matters most to us, writing stops mattering. We lose our mojo. As a result, our writing stops mattering to others.
The reason for this is simple, our words no longer serve as a repository of our spirit. They don’t express our soul purpose or our passion and commitment to making a difference.
Return to Your Soul
As I write this post, most writers—indeed, most of the world—have been asked to shelter at home during a pandemic. For me, this quieter, slower time has given me a chance to pause and consider what I really want to write about…now. It’s provided an opportunity to realign with my soul purpose as a writer.
And, if I’m honest, that purpose has not changed much over the years.
The more I remind myself of who I set out to be as a writer, the stronger becomes my desire to become that person. Little by little, the passion returns—for my writing, the topics, and making a contribution via my work.
I want to encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity, too—especially if you are struggling to write. Consider whether what you are writing feeds your soul. Do the words you type provide a repository for your spirit? Or are your words crafted only to help you get published and make money?
If the later, rethink! Recalibrate. Realign.
Remember your soul purpose. Why did you begin writing in the first place? Go back to that point in time, and start again.
That’s what I’m doing…going back to the beginning.
Writers hate throwing away an entire manuscript and starting from scratch. They’d rather revise what they already created.
And it’s true, it’s easier to revise a manuscript than to create one from nothing. But sometimes, it serves us most to throw our work in the circular file (the trash bin) and start over.
Maybe that’s what you need to do. It’s possible to revise a writing career, though. You can rearrange or re-angle yours in some way. That’s what I’m doing.
I am not throwing away the body of work I created in the fields of blogging, blogging books, writing, getting published, and succeeding as a writer. Nor am I tossing projects already in the works.
No. I’m proud of that work. But my focus for the future has changed.
Get Back on Track
I plan to get on back on track as fast as I can. I have a book project to complete, and then I will turn my attention to the projects I always said I wanted to write—and still do—and some new topics, too.
From now on, I will allow my spirit to move my writing—like I used to do. I will make my writing career decisions using purpose as my GPS.
I already feel the passion returning. I’m starting to get excited about and energized by what the future holds for me as a writer. It’s been a long time since I felt that way.
If you are feeling disimpassioned, overwhelmed, or burned out, determine if your writing career has gotten off track. Then, take some time to reconnect with why you set out to become a writer in the first place. Start writing from your soul, so you fulfill your purpose. Allow your words to shed the light of your spirit on the world.
Have you been off track with your writing? Tell me about your experience in a comment below. And please share this post with any writers you think might benefit from it.
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