LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT WORKS FOR WRITING TOO©2011, Vicki Hinze WARNING: This is a no-edit zone…
Years ago there was a popular saying: “America: Love it or Leave it.”
There’s a gem buried in that simple saying—one that goes far beyond a person’s attitude toward a nation. It’s a saying that is applicable to key professional areas in one’s life.
Starting from the big picture. If you don’t love what you’re doing, do something else. Life is short, far too short to invest the majority of time in it on something you’re not passionate about doing.
I write because the idea of not writing makes me sick. Literally. I can’t imagine a world where I can’t spend my time telling my stories. I love it. Love everything about it. It’s not always easy. Things don’t always work out the way I planned. But I’m always passionate about it, always eager to write the story, and always enthused about the writing.
Vital, because a reader can’t get out of writing what a writer doesn’t put into it. It takes passion to create passion, to make others care. We connect in writing through emotions. They must be honest and real. They must be sincere. They cannot be faked and resonate.
When you love what you’re doing, it impacts your physical, emotional and spiritual well being. When you don’t, that impacts all aspects of you and your life as well. Balance is critical, and without a passion for what you’re doing, a purpose to drive you to do what you’re doing, you will never have balance.
So in writing, love it or leave it. There are far easier ways to earn a living and far easier ways to spend your time than being isolated with your thoughts and the people inside your head and their obstacles and flaws and struggles to overcome them.
Others will try to dissuade you. Frustration and impatience will haunt you. Challenges will be your constant companions. You’ll hear no far more often than yes. You’ll lose more battles than you win. It’s hard. It’s maddening. It’s demanding, and it takes all you’re willing to sacrifice and more—and it will your entire career. You don’t just want that passion for what you’re doing, you need it.
It is your passion that has you naying the naysayers and holding onto the dream. Coping constructively with the challenges. Hearing no, regrouping and pressing on. Enjoying the successes you do achieve and tolerating the failures you will endure, making them constructive learning lessons. Accepting that hard and impossible are not synonymous, and striving and persistent, you can handle hard. You can eat a bear—one bite at a time. Your passion makes you willing to sacrifice to the last grain because your purpose is purpose and not just desire. Purpose and passion that is sustainable requires love.
And, let’s face it, you either have love or you don’t.
So writing—what you write and how you write it—fits. Love it or leave it.
I was fortunate, and I realize more all the time what a special gift my parents gave me. From the cradle, my mother told me I could do anything I wanted to do, if I was willing to work at it and be responsible for it. My dad encouraged me to fail. His take was that if you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying enough. You can’t reach your potential without stretching. If you’re not failing, you’re standing still and just taking up space. Stretch. You might fail, but you might not. One thing is sure, if you stretch your starting point next time will be closer to your vision of success than it was the last time. Failure carries experience, experience fosters growth. Every failure adds valuable insights, offers wisdom. (Doesn’t that make failure success?)
So thanks to my parents and their attitudes, I had a license to go for whatever dream I might have, provided I was willing to work at it and be responsible for it and I had a license to fail my way to success.
As a result, I’ve never feared failure. I’ve done plenty of it, but to me, it’s not really failure, it’s a badge of honor signaling stretching and growing in my attempts to make a difference. I’ve never feared huge dreams. I’m a simple woman, living a simple life, but my dreams are universal—both in size and scope, seated in purpose I am willing to be responsible for any time. There’s enormous empowerment in not fearing failure (or success) and in the dream, work, responsibility (purpose) ethic. Enormous empowerment.
When you hear no. What you should really hear is not right now. Not here. Not with this person, this company. No by one person doesn’t mean no forever. (As has proven true in my life firsthand. I wrote a book in 1988, heard no for years. Then finally I heard yes and sold it in 1995. It was published in 1998, resold in 2011, and is being republished in 2012.) No isn’t fun, it’s not convenient, but you trust that there’s a reason and when the ducks all get lined up, the no will change to a yes. Why? You love it—the process, the creation, and the product. When the time’s right, things happen.
In the book referenced above, a reader said it helped her find her way back to life after the suicide of a nephew who was like a son to her. She hadn’t seen how she could go on, but through the book, she found her way. See? The delays were for a purpose. The book was there when she needed it. No became a yes and delays were endured so that when she most needed what the book offered, it was there and not already gone. Love the work, trust the process. Purpose work finds its place in God’s own time.
Within the writing. You start out loving a project, or a type of book, then you just don’t—for whatever reason. You’re at a crossroad. You can quit—everyone says don’t quit—or press on—everyone says press on; finish what you start.
Whether or not you should quit depends. On what? The reason you’re quitting. If you love the project (and you should never write one you don’t [your time is your life—don’t waste it!]) and you hit a wall, don’t quit. Wait. Patience pays. Set it aside and stew on it a bit. You’ll figure out what’s working and what isn’t. That’s not quitting; it’s letting the ducks line up on a project. Something will happen, something will snap and you’ll know exactly what the project needs.
If you loved the project and now you don’t, then change it until you love it again. If you can’t change it enough to love it, then quit. If you’ve read this far, you know you can’t fake loving a project. It shows in immeasurable ways in the work and isn’t playing fair with yourself or with your reader. It isn’t respecting you or your reader or your life. Don’t do that. Invest your time and life on a project you do love, remembering to choose your projects wisely. Unfinished projects are never published.
If you’re writing a particular type of book but aren’t content doing it, change what you write. Get to where your passion is—and do it posthaste.
America: Love it or leave it.
Look at the writing—the what, where, how and why. Then look beyond it by narrowing your focus on aspects of it, at other areas of your professional life where you’ll see the value in loving or leaving.
As the FAME song said: “Find your passion, and make it happen.”
That’s love it or leave it writing. And that’s the only kind of writing that is worthy of all it demands. The only kind that can have you trudging through the depths of despair and soaring the mountaintops—and loving it.