PASSION! The big P of creative writing.

Behold, creative writing duckettes! The three Ps that will keep you going through the tough times. Patience, perseverance and passion. Sadly not one of them is coated in chocolate. But that could easily be arranged.


Patience. Easy peasy. All this means is that we simply have to patient with ourselves. We have to give ourselves time to learn. Sounds like a cinch, yeah? But your toes are curling as you read this, aren’t they? I know because you are me. Everyone else can take their time but not us. If we go slowly it’s proof that we’re a ninny. Or we have no talent. Or we’re dreamin’ the wrong dream. Arrrgh! Why do adults think they have to learn instantly, painlessly, sans frustration and worse still, completely free of embarrassment? It’s  LUDICROUS. Seriously. Deep down you must agree? There’s a whole rambling blog post in this P alone. But Patience doesn’t suit my purpose today. I’m over it.  For now, I’d like to cite Carla Sonheim. Carla is referring to visual art but the same applies to creative writing:

Accept where you are and make lots of work.

There’s loads of power in these simple words. Please, for the love of all things holy, stop berating yourself. Stop second-guessing yourself. Go gently. Accept where you are. Accept. Lovely word. Lovely, soulful action. Remember, every single time we write we are moving closer to our dream. Every. Single. Time! Patience, grasshopper.

Perseverance. This old chestnut comes more naturally for some. Personally, I’m a Taurus born in the Year of the Ox. If I was any more bovine I’d have horns. Or hooves. Ick. In any case, perseverance comes naturally to me. I am one of the great PLODDERS. I move steadily. I can plough through rain, hail and sleet. This trait can make Jen a Boring Person. But it’s helpful when it comes to creative writing. It has held me in good stead. If perseverance doesn’t come naturally to us, we need to develop it. Or find nifty ways to get the work done despite our pretty-butterfly tendencies. Again, more about Perseverance in another post.

 In creative writing courses and in the text books, there is lots of emphasis on patience and perseverance. Discipline. Dedication. Focus. Bums on seats. Boot camps. Sometimes we get so fixated on these tough-guy aspects that we forget  PASSION. We forget passion and lo and behold we LOSE passion. Or our passion wanes. We wake up feeling passionless. We’ve lost that lovin’ feelin’.  Feel like we’re living in a Gene Pitney song. All that. But passion should never be neglected. It is crucial. Honestly. It’s so important that we nurture it. Without passion, patience and perseverance are too hard to maintain; too much of an ask. Without passion we are in danger of giving up our Author’s Quest. Writing without passion makes us miserable.

Have you read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron? In that book, Cameron recommends a weekly Artist’s Date. This is a date with yourself wherein you toddle off and do something just for the sake of your inner artist. Every week. No exceptions. It can be as simple as a trip to the $2 dollar shop (my inner artist loses her MIND in those shops. They are so exciting!). Or it can be a trip to the movies, a gallery, a book shop, a library, a walk in nature. Anything inspiring. Anything to fill your creative well and keep your passion alive. You might take  your favourite picture book and go off to a sunny cafe. Read that classic slowly. Pore over the art. Lose yourself in the book’s world, its art, its words. Remind yourself why you love words. Why you love children’s literature. Why you want to create books for kids.

We must constantly remind ourselves , in the most immersive and sensual ways, why we want to write. Otherwise it becomes purely an intellectual exercise— fuelled only by grit and determination. No longer art. Just push-ups in the rain. Please take passion seriously. The harder we are working on our stories, the more attention we should pay to our passion quota. Don’t let it fizzle. Honour it. Maybe even construct a little shrine for it. Passion is the biggest P of all. It’s where all our artistic sustenance lies.

This week, on my Artist’s Date, I visited Dymocks Books in Collins Street, Melbourne. I almost squealed with delight when I discovered  they have a series of Wolf Erlbruch cards. Here’s one I bought. I probably won’t send it to anyone. Ever.


I asked class members to bring their favourites picture books to class. One witty student brought Duck, Death and the Tulip. You know, because of the duck. But also because this book is astonishing. High strike on the passion meter for me!

We played Exquisite Corpse in class this week. I supplied a box full of poetry lines. Everyone from Keats to Margaret Atwood . Each student had to blindly pull out eight lines then construct a poem to glue in their notebook. It was a great way to reconnect with our love of words. Art for art’s sake. We read our poems aloud to each other. It was word heaven. Funny, too. At times even poignant.

Here’s mine. I read it to my partner over the phone. He thought I’d written it. Man, he was impressed. 😉



19 Replies to “PASSION! The big P of creative writing.”

  1. I also have perseverance (I think) yet I am supposedly a flighty fish, but i am currently working on keeping the passion going, by taking the time to read when it isn’t bedtime, do a little sketch or two etc. Even changed my workspace and i’m trying writing in long hand, with a new fountain pen. What’s more, I have a little character I like very much, and I’m enjoying the stories she’s helping me create.

    1. Oh, yes! Obviously you have perseverance, JB, you’re still in the industry and still producing beautiful words! Love that you have a new character. Can’t wait to hear more about her! and btw I’m a laptop nazi in class. I insist on pen and paper. Just for these early days. there’s magic in longhand writing, isn’t there? Thanks so much for commenting, Janeen! xx

  2. I am nothing if not perseverent. It’s in my genes. I simply will not give up!!!! For as long as I’m able I will write and even then, when a hand injury slowed me, I started to dictate. Does great things for dialogue, and makes you sound like a nutty professors. Win! Thanks for the great post.

  3. Lovely Jen – how do you do it? You write, you teach and you keep going with these PROFOUND (there’s another P for you) blog posts. Thanks for the inspiration 🙂 I, too, an a fan of Julia Cameron – although reading too many writing books sometimes makes me feel like I’m Procrastinating!

    1. Ha! Thank you! That is so sweet, Heather. Also, glad to hear you’re a fan of J Cameron. My copy is about 20 years old, scribbled all over and falling apart at the seams. The mark of a great book, I guess! xo

    1. That’s great news, LJ! Well, not that your project is daunting but that my posts are helping! Daunted is not a nice place to be. No siree. I hope it all starts to fall into place soon. Meantime, I’ll keep posting. 😉 Best wishes and thank you so much for commenting. J

  4. Duck, Death and the Tulip was the picture book that started me collecting. It opened a window I didn’t know existed. Also, loved the last post on Developing Characters in Fiction. I learned something I needed to know at that very moment.

    1. Sandy, I had never heard of D, D and T until it came to class. Isn’t it the most beautiful and profound book? SO glad the character ramble helped you!! Thank you a million for letting me know. It encourages me to keep going with the posts. Always great to hear from you. xx

  5. So much to enjoy in your post – particularly the idea that writing without the passions you espouse becomes ‘push-ups in the rain’. I love your creativity and equally, how you share it with others. When you referenced Julia Cameron and The Artist’s Way, I was put in mind of an evolving approach to creative writing that dovetails with this idea of the process of writing being as important as the quest for an end result. It is called creative writing for therapeutic purposes (CWTP) and while it has applications for a wide variety of ‘client groups’ who might benefit, it also understands that the CWTP writer and facilitator must attend to her own therapeutic self-development. To know more about this growing field, do feel free to check out ww.metanoia.ac.uk/training-programmes/special-interest/msc-in-creative-writing-for-therapeutic-purposes/

  6. I love that you referenced The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I have been an Artist’s Way Facilitator for 20 years since I first discovered The Artist’s Way book in 1996 at High Winds Book store in Milwaukee, WI. I was sipping green tea listening to meditative music when I looked over and saw the book and it spoke to me. It was my book! I spent my lunch money and promptly purchased the book. Then 16 years ago I created The Artist’s Way Circle and have had hundreds of members come and go. Artist’s Way has changed my life.

    1. Oh! I LOVE this story! Thank you so much for sharing it with me Wenona. TAW absolutely changed my life too. PLus i’d never read anything like it. It was such a joy, so comforting and inspiring. My copy lives on my bedside table, even now. I still dive in now and then. What fun it must be to run the circles! xo

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