“… the first thing a writer should be is excited.”
n -- Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury is right on target! A writer has to have passion. The act of writing is tedious, gruesome, laborious, incredibly time-consuming, agonizing, painfully difficult, and down-right horrible if you don’t have passion for your topic or the act of writing.
I am using passion here as an equal synonym for excitement. A writer simply has to be excited or the pen simply does not move!
To be excited does not necessarily mean to be happy. Excited means there is heightened energy about something. It means there is interest, usually a vested interest, in something. It means you care very much about something for one or more (usually more) reasons. So I fully agree with Mr. Bradbury: a writer should be excited and this really has to come first.
When people tell me that they love to write, but they just don’t know what to write about, I’m somewhat miffed. My first thought is, are you kidding me?! And my second thought is, wow, you either don’t have much passion or you’ve buried it so deep inside that you’re all clogged up in your soul.
I’m not usually so brutally honest as to blurt those thoughts out in the air where the person who has just confessed an embarrassing secret to me can hear them, though. Instead, I usually start asking questions that are aimed at discovering some semblance of excitement. I disguise my questions so the person doesn’t even know we are talking about writing anymore. My camouflaging transition goes something like this: yeah, I know what you mean…. it’s hard sometimes… Then we talk about basketball or dogs; a new restaurant in town; music; painting a room; taking a trip; kids; maybe even politics. I dig and prod until I find some hint of excitement because I always believe it is there… And it is!
Here’s the thing: humans have thoughts, ideas, opinions, feelings, and in there, we have excitement. Something gets your goat. What is it? Whatever it is that boils your blood and causes your voice to rise in conversation is the source of your passion.
To be excited about something can mean that you are really happy and are experiencing some kind of euphoria; but more often than not, you get excited about an injustice of some sort. Whatever it is, Ray Bradbury is suggesting that this passion is what initiates the movement of expression for a writer. I am suggesting that we have this unrealistic ideal about writing that it has to be pretty, or nice, so we think we can’t write about that rise in emotion that is ignited by anger or pain. No! Writing is about being real and being honest about that realness. So my contention is that we are excited, but we don’t always recognize it because it isn’t always pretty.
My challenge to you is to look inside and find that excitement. Then rip it out of its hiding place and slam it onto the page! Be brave; be bold. Write it raw and let its stench consume you. Write it raw and let the emotions overcome you. Write it raw and ride on its momentum. Write it, because as you do so, you will discover and claim for your very own this excitement that tells you without a doubt that you are a writer!