Friday, October 12, 2012

Follow Your Passion Bullshit

Thriller Guy hates to be the curmudgeon always raining on the manuscripts of thousands of wantabe writers. Young and old, pounding away on their computers, or, more usually, talking about the book they would write if they only had the time. These are the ones who always say they are passionate about writing. Oh, please, spare me. TG has written in this blog about how he hates hearing over and over again from writers who claim they are driven to write, that even if they never earned a penny for it they would write. One pictures them sitting at the kitchen table in their ratty pajamas, emaciated, slowly starving to death, pen in hand.

TG knows a lot of writers. Most of them, no, all of them, write because they need to earn a living and the one thing they are good at or at least pretty good at is writing. Many of them are passionate, but none of them are passionate about writing. Among their various passions are sports, golf, naked women, drinking, the stock market, watching movies, playing games on their computer and caring for their children. So TG has sat by silently and listened to the good-hearted folks who are always telling kids to follow their passion. Silently because he is tired of pissing these sorts of chuckleheads off. Or at least tired of hearing from these chuckleheads after he has pissed them off.

Recently a sort of backlash has arisen which gladdens TG’s heart. Michael Ruhlman, a famous food writer, recently wrote a great blog saying he too is sick of hearing this advice aimed at young cooks. In this excellent blog, he pointed TG to a writer, Daniel Coyle, who says pretty much the same thing in a couple of blog entries. Rather than having TG paraphrase, just go over to his site and see what he has to say.

Here’s the deal. It’s not about passion, it’s about work. You want to write a novel? Fine, you can write a novel. TG can teach you the technical parts. Others can as well. (Quite soon TG will have his new website up where you can learn all the cool details about hiring TG to chew your ass out until you’ve got an actual book written.) TG’s method, and this is the name of his forthcoming book on the subject, is:

Shut Up. Sit Down and Get to Work: Thriller Guy’s Guide to Writing a Novel.

TG would love to have some magical method to impart that would lead to the glories of publishing. Anyone who promises you anything like that is full of crap. The Interweb can point you to hundreds of these shysters who will promise you the moon and charge you accordingly. TG spits on these people.  So for now, TG will leave you with the only thing you really need to know.

Shut up. Sit down and get to work.

And he says that with great passion.


  1. But TG, I am very passionate about (not)writing. I have near genius natural talent for procrastination and excuses.

    Thanks for the reminder. Here I am, on a train. A good hour of writing opportunity, listening to Cross(o)ver's "Quelque chose"...ok, closing your blog...opening storymill...

  2. And once again, TG has done a good deed.

  3. Hey TG, I have been lurking here in the shadows of this blog for awhile, but had to share the quote from Joy Williams on why the writer even takes the chance,
    "Language accepts the writer as its host, it feeds off the writer, it makes him a husk. There is something uncanny about good writing — uncanny the singing that comes from certain husks. The writer is never nourished by his own work, it is never satisfying to him. The work is a stranger, it shuns him a little, for the writer is really something of a fool, so engaged in his disengagement, so self-conscious, so eager to serve something greater, which is the writing. Or which could be the writing if only the writer is good enough. The work stands a little apart from the writer, it doesn’t want to go down with him when he stumbles or fails to retreat. The writer must do all this alone, in secret, in drudgery, in confusion, awkwardly, one word at a time."
    You....keep up the good work!
    Steve D

  4. Steve D has done us a favor by sending along the quote from Williams. It's part of a larger piece that can be found here. This is far more literate than the ravings of TG, but even TG must sometimes think rather than shout.