Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

Do You Like or Love to Write?

I know a lot of people who like to write. They blog, email, maybe even journal. And that’s good.

It’s important to have communication skills. It’s great to be able to write and express your thoughts, especially in an age in which there is unrestricted access to other people.

But if you want to be a writer, that’s not enough.

Photo of Woman and Cat in Love

Photo credit: nromagna (Creative Commons)

There must be passion

I don’t mean to be harsh here, but can you do something, anything, for an extended period of time without loving it?

I sure wouldn’t recommend it.

Of course, many people do this every day. And some for the rest of their lives. They’re hacking away at jobs they hate, doing work they loathe because they feel stuck. They have no idea what opportunities await them.

Or perhaps, they simply lack the courage to take risks.

But if you’re to be a writer — a bard, an artist, a storyteller whose life’s work is dedicated to the written word — you need to love writing.

The difference between vocation and occupation

Vocation is a life calling, a passion. Occupation is what merely occupies your time. Maybe it even pays your bills.

With a vocation, you may never get paid, but it’s still something you have to do. Why? Because you can’t imagine life without this passion.

As one of my friends says, a vocation is something you “can’t not do.” (Pardon the double negative.) This is why real writers write.

You are compelled to do it, maybe even a little obsessed. For love of the craft, not the fame or money or accolades. Just writing for the sake of creating art.

If you’re going to be a writer, you have to love it

This is a non-negotiable. If not, you’ll burn out. I hear some writers say they don’t love writing, but they love having written.

I don’t buy that.

Life’s too short to spend your time doing things you don’t love.

You need to enjoy the act of writing, at least a little, while you do it. I don’t think any amount of discipline can overcome lack of passion.

Sure, there will be days when you don’t feel like doing it. But that doesn’t negate the passion that began the pursuit. And as you sit down, maybe even forcing yourself to write, you will fall in love all over again.

Don’t get serious about writing unless you love it.

But if you do love writing, it’s time to get serious. Oh, and the good news is this: The world rewards artists who create for the love of it.

In other words, yes, you can actually make money at this, if you’re smart (note: that’s an affiliate link to a product I recommend).

So what are you waiting for?

About Jeff Goins

I help people tell better stories and make a difference in the world. My family and I live outside of Nashville, TN. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google Plus. To get updates and free stuff, join my newsletter.

Learn How I Earned 100,000 Fans

Sign up for the free newsletter and get a three-part series on exactly what I did to grow my blog from zero to 100,000 readers in less than two years. Enter your email below to get started.

  • http://avajae.blogspot.com Ava Jae

    “Life is too short to spend your free time doing things you don’t love.” So true. I think this post could really apply to any so-called hobby–if you don’t love what you’re doing, why spend your free time doing it? 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      agreed. that’s my secret about this blog — it’s not really about writing. it’s about life. don’t tell anyone! ;)

      • http://avajae.blogspot.com Ava Jae

        Your secret is safe with me. :)

  • http://deuceology.wordpress.com Larry Carter

    I agree.  Some people have a passion for yard work, mowing, etc, and you can tell it because they have the nicest yards around.  People throw themselves into their passion.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Interesting analogy, Larry.

      • http://dr1665.com Brian Driggs

        As a gearhead, I resemble that remark. I’ve discovered finding our passion is merely the first step toward enlightenment. The full benefit of passion is when it is understood, channeled, and tailored to the situation.

        It’s how work-life-balance becomes work-life:parallel.

        Writing is the utilization of a tool (language). Did Michelangelo love sculpting – or releasing the figure he knew lived within the marble? When he took his brushes to the Sistine Chapel, did he love painting – or the creation of a vision which would inspire the world over?

        If it were simply a question of loving something so much, I might be miserable right now, fixing neglected vehicles for unqualified owners, or trying to convince strangers to go deeper in debt financing a rapidly depreciating asset they don’t really need. 

        Instead, my passion for the automobile has lead me to knowledge management, training, publishing, and this site, as it’s clear to me how becoming a better writer is paramount to supercharging my passion.

        Hope this makes sense. 

  • http://www.wakeupcloud.com/ Henri Junttila

    I literally cannot not write, and I also cannot do stuff that I don’t enjoy. I used to be able to force myself, but it doesn’t work anymore. It’s like the illusion has been unveiled.

    I remember the first time I really loved telling stories. It was in first grade. I was writing short stories in a small blue book about animals that could talk and one bear always ended up killing the rest.

    I did not have a troubled childhood … I think ;)

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Sounds like you were made to tell stories — violent ones. ;)

      • http://www.wakeupcloud.com/ Henri Junttila

        Haha. I do have an affinity for mystery, crime and murder. There’s something fascinating about it ;)

  • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

    I’ve wondered this: do you need to love the craft of writing itself or is it OK to love the results of writing? I like sharing things with an audience and helping them. I view it as a ministry and *that* is my passion. The medium of writing is just the way for that passion to be lived out.
    I’m not in love with writing programs or pecking onto a computer or grammar or vocabulary – but I am in love with how those things allow me to communicate and minister to people.

    Is this similar to what you’re talking about? Or do I need to rethink some things?

    • http://FollowingJesusSucks.org Shon Ridenour

      I agree. Writing, for me, is a medium that taps into deeper passions.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Good question Loren. I know the results of writing and blogging, for me, are enjoyable. Seeing the comments and the change it brings is great.

      I’m waiting to hear Jeff’s answer on this.

  • Jamie Yap

    I love to write, that’s why I’ve been writing all my life :D

  • Alan Kay

    Nice one. I left school before I was fifteen (I just didn’t fit in – nor did Einstein, Churchill, etc.), and cursed myself with the belief that writing was something I was really bad at. 

    Miraculously, I have enjoyed a business life in organizations, often working with very senior people who don’t even notice my modest formal education. 
    I’m probably still bad at writing (grammar, spelling, rushing to get it done, etc.). However, I love sharing the value of my knowledge and being passionate about it. I have found my voice and now step forward by believing in my ideas and the value they bring to others. Jeff, please continue your passionate belief in the value of writing.     

  • Introv

    I’m still trying to figure out whether I LOVE writing or not.  I LOVE it when people enjoy my work.  I LOVE it when I enjoy my own work, but LOVing the actual act is a tough one.

    • http://FollowingJesusSucks.org Shon Ridenour

      Yeah, I kinda think of it as a boxing match. It probably doesn’t feel so good to get punched in the face, but once you’ve made it through round after round, it feels great to come out victorious! 

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    This raises the question as to the distinction between love and need. If you can’t not do something, pardon the double negative, it sounds like you need to do it.   

    Isn’t breathing that which we can’t not do more than anything else? So why are there no love songs about oxygen?

    To me, the less I can not do something, the more I know I truly love it if I do it anyway without anybody putting a gun to my head. 

    • Anonymous

      A stretch perhaps, but I just couldn’t not post it:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmlKjO4juCo

  • http://jonfulk.com Jon Fulk

    I love writing once I get going.  I usually hate not writing.  Years ago, I said I was a writer who didn’t write, which didn’t make a lot of sense.  Now I’m a writer who doesn’t write enough.

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    I had been waiting for the right time… However, I found out it wouldn’t come so I started two months ago. It’s been a great ride so far. Hopefully the passion stays!

  • http://mehmudahrehman.wordpress.com Mehmudah

    loved this post! Nicely done, Jeff!

  • http://KatieAx.blogspot.com Katie Axelson

    I like the following C.S. Lewis quote because I think it describes me well:”I am sure that some people are born to write as trees are born to bear leaves. For
    these, writing is a necessary mode of their own development.”Katie

    • http://KatieAx.blogspot.com Katie Axelson

      Not quite sure what happened with the spacing there. Sorry!

  • http://twitter.com/meganwillome Megan Willome

    So true! I’m one of the happily afflicted ones.

  • http://www.likeawarmcupofcoffee.com Sarah Mae

    Well, I guess I’m in trouble, because more times than not, this is me: “they don’t love writing, but they love having written.” But you knew that already, didn’t you? ;)

    Most days, I hate writing. And yet, I’m compelled. So what’s THAT about?

  • Anonymous

    Hey Jeff, totally agree: “And as you sit down, maybe even forcing yourself to write, you will fall in love all over again.” 

    It’s a “zone” thing. The act of creating provides the open door to the zone. I remember long ago discovering those activities that pull me out of myself, my pity, neg moods, etc. These are activities that reward you with surprises that surpass your own personal expectations. Time and again they bring about a joy that is found in no other activity. For me that’s certain areas of art, music and writing.Learning to make the time for these activities is a creative art form in itself that I’ve not yet mastered.

  • http://designedbycreativity.com Larry Kozlof

    I’m at the state of not being sure. Some days I absolutely love writing but occasionally I feel like there is nothing in the world that could make me write.  In those moments I find if I can get through the first five minutes or so what I produce is what I love the most.  I dream about paragraphs and the flow of a plot, character development haunts me at times and I get sucked into my own outlines almost believing I am there with these imaginary people.  Yet I can’t seem to completely love it all the time.

    This post is a good reminder, sometimes I just need to get through it, sometimes the love comes from practice and production.  Maybe my love for this art will grow as I finish this post.  Thanks Jeff.

    • Rob Farquhar

      Right there with you, Larry!

  • http://www.eileenknowles.com Eileen

    Love how you described vocation here. “With a vocation, you may never get paid, but it’s still something you have to do. Why? Because you can’t imagine life without this passion.”  I do know what life looks like without this passion, (or, in my case, when I fearfully avoided it) I never want to go back to  life like that either. 

  • http://thecormierfamily.org/Jason Jason

    Love it.  Really being challenged by this blog to get into another gear.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks, Jeff!

  • http://www.nginaotiende.blogspot.com Ngina Otiende

    I like the description of Occupation and Vocation…isn’t it amazing when our vocation becomes our occupation? I am not there yet (fully), but it is my goal and focus right now.

    Thanks for sharing. Always builds me up!

  • http://mandysantos.com Mandy

    “I hear some writers say they don’t love writing, but they love having written. I don’t buy that.” Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.  I’ve read that SO many times and it’s bothered me.  I thought that because I’m a newbie writer that I was missing something.  So good to hear a writer farther along than me disagree with that statement.  Feeling like I may not be a complete weirdo because I actually love the part about sitting down to write. 

    • http://www.likeawarmcupofcoffee.com Sarah Mae

      Hey Mandy, :) Why does that statement bother you? It pretty much describes me, most of the time! 

      • http://mandysantos.com Mandy

        I guess I just can’t imagine pouring so much time and energy into something that isn’t enjoyable.  I feel so alive when I’m writing- even when it feels like a fight to get out one sentence.  While I understand the fulfillment in having written, I don’t ever want moments of success to rob me of the joy of the process.  :)  

    • Rob Farquhar

      … it’s sort of like exercising, I suppose: you either tolerate the moving and the burn because you’re gonna be ripped in the end, or you actually dig the squats, the push-ups, the treadmillery and the weights!

      I’m still trying to figure out which I am. I’m grinding my way through a novella t the moment and am wondering whether my problem is just that I need a better outline or that I’m not cut out for this long-form stuff…

  • Evonne Biggins

    Hi.  About a hundred years ago, I took a correspondence course. The questionnaire asked: Why do you want to write? (or something like that). I said: Because I must.After I sent it off in the snail mail, I felt rather duh about my answer, but you just made me feel better. Thanks. And, yep, I still must write. :-}

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    Jeff, you are one of the few I definitely keep on my to-read list. Earlier today I was reminded of the challenges of writing (not getting paid will get old at some point) and recognized my continuing the writing journey was based on passion which fuels perseverance. I can’t imagine not writing anymore than not rooting for the Cowboys (both encourage great endurance, perseverance, and the willingness to work through embarrassing moments).  Got your new eBook and look forward to gleaning wisdom from your literary fields.–Tom

  • Anonymous

    Such true thoughts. I love the topic I write about. Which is leadership. This is my passions and I desire to help others on my leadership blog at danblackonleadership.com

  • http://www.thejackb.com/ The JackB

    The passion for writing is why I have spent 7.5 years blogging. You don’t spend this much time banging on a keyboard unless you love it. Passion makes a significant difference in the actual production of the words we write.

  • http://www.thejackb.com/ The JackB

    The passion for writing is why I have spent 7.5 years blogging. You don’t spend this much time banging on a keyboard unless you love it. Passion makes a significant difference in the actual production of the words we write.

  • http://jackalopekid.com jackalopekid

    I just recently fell back in love with writing. It took a long break for that to happen that though. I guess you could say burnout happened… I just had too many other priorities that I had to deal with at that time. I guess with anything else there’s seasons in life. But, I have to say there’s nothing like the feeling of being an open book and putting it all down on paper or typing it out with a keyboard. 

  • Pingback: TWICs, XVI()

  • Nena

    writing is one of the best ways to express your feelings and to show people your creative mind that is hard to show physically 

  • http://www.facebook.com/mathias.lorenzen Mathias Lykkegaard Lorenzen

    I used Fablelane because it’s quick and fun, and allows other to contribute to a story too. http://fablelane.com

  • Adele

    Nice post.
    I love writing.
    See soon.

  • hiahfif1987

    Recently I was extremely low on money and debts were eating me from all sides! That was UNTIL I decided to make money.. on the internet. I went to surveymoneymaker dot net, and started filling in surveys for cash, and surely I’ve been far more able to pay my bills! I’m so glad, I did this!!! – j8b2

  • Stephanie L. Robertson

    I somewhat agree. See, because I like to write. I’m kind of laid back and not one of those super-driven people. If I really, really wanted to follow my passion, I’d be traveling all over the world to these really obscure places. Like Phi Phi Don or Nyurba. Maybe I’ll go there after my freelance writing takes off and I can pay for the flight? Maybe.

  • Morgo

    I’ve been trying to force myself to write, like I have to. But this article’s basically telling me what I didn’t want to tell myself: I don’t like it anymore. I really needed this eye-opener without wit or smart remarks. Thank you.

  • Mz Elusive

    Nice site. Please also let your family and friends know that for a limited
    time we will pay them to post their comments on our own website at:
    http://www.publicbulletinboards.com.

  • Greatful person

    I think this is a wonderful idea and very helpful. Thank you very much. I want to become a journalist and I want to business in writing and you have helped me a lot. Thanks so very much.