Yesterday, Dave’s dad was telling us about a letter to the editor he was writing, and while I’m not sure exactly what the topic of this letter was (he’s quite the letter writer), he did tell us that he was a little “fired up” about the subject. “I have to be a little fired up to write, you know?” I do know. As a writer, as a student, as a teacher, if I’m not a little fired up by something, it’s hard for me to invest the energy and time to write about it.
I encourage my students to write about a topic they care about when possible for this reason – the writing process is more enjoyable and the writing is often better when we are passionate about our subject. Of course, students aren’t always given the option to pick a topic (which is a problem, as I see it), but still it is usually possible to pick an angle on a topic for which we feel some enthusiasm. For example, let’s say I was, because of some fairy-tale-like curse, taking an economics class and was asked to analyze the tax code in the United States (would a person write about the tax code in an economics class? See how much I know?). This topic initially sounds terribly boring, but what if I found a spark of my own passion and looked at the tax breaks given to the wealthier among us. I might then be able to get “fired up” enough to write a thoughtful, informed paper.
Of course, we want to be careful not to get so passionate that we lose all ability to be logical, and perhaps this will mean we cannot write about certain topics or have to take a much slower process to do so, giving ourselves time to mull over our sentences and be sure they are clear and supported. But most of the time, our passion will serve us well in our writing (and in our life.)
For creative writers, we have the option – most of the time – to write entirely about our passions. What a lovely thing.
So what makes you passionate? What could you write about with enthusiasm and investment? What gets you “fired up” enough to want to write about it?