Wednesday, July 11, 2012

going viral--with enthusiasm, that is

I've taken a couple of weeks out of the writers success series to pay homage to some of my favorite people (who also happen to be writers), but I'd like to resume with the next lesson in the Law of Success book: enthusiasm. Rather than use Napoleon Hill's definition, I'm going to refer to another in the consciousness movement, Eckhart Tolle.
"Enthusiasm means there is a deep enjoyment in what you do plus the added element of a goal or a vision that you work toward. When you add a goal to the enjoyment of what you do, the energy-field or vibrational frequency changes."
That last bit probably sounds like a bunch of hocus-pocus, happy-crappy new-agey stuff, right? But think about it. Ever been around someone who was enthusiastic about a certain task, such as cooking or organizing a closet? The task itself not only became less daunting, but enjoyable. The momentum to do it shifted, and the task probably got done quicker than if you/they had approached it with dread.

Perhaps my favorite student evaluation comes from those who say, "Professor Lorello's love for writing made me want to love it, too. Or at least like it." Enthusiasm is contagious. It spreads not only to others but to everything we do, not just the things we normally like.

This is where the advice "Write the book you want to read" comes in yet again, because it's directly tied to enthusiasm. If you try to write a book by predicting the marketing trends, statistics of what genre readers like, or by copying the style of other writers, you'll only get so far. I'm sure I could attempt a vampire romance novel, perhaps even a mashup. They seem to be selling very well these days. But it would probably suck (no pun intended). Why? Because I'm not really into vampires. Because I wouldn't even know where to begin, other than a vampire who is remarkably similar to Ferris Bueller. Because I wouldn't have much fun writing it. It would be laborious, tedious, quicksand. It would be mudpiles rather than sandcastles.

The enthusiasm you have for your book will spread to others. They'll enjoy reading it as much as you did writing it. Ever watch a musician who is just having the time of his life on stage? Makes you wanna pick up a guitar and join him, even if you don't know how to play. Years ago, when I went to see Brian Wilson perform the Pet Sounds album, he told the crowd, "Listen to the harmonies in this one--they're terrific." We laughed, but we listened. And we loved it. They were terrific.

I find that so many writers (myself included) talk about the work aspect of writing, how hard it is. And yes, sometimes it is. But more often than not I find myself approaching it willingly, happily--yes, enthusiastically. And when I do, the time passes in a flash, the words practically jump onto the page, and I don't care whether it's good or bad. In fact for me, the "goal or vision" I worked toward--making a living solely as a full-time writer--was propelled by my enjoyment, my enthusiasm. My friends and family have called me whimsical, idealistic (even lazy), but I have often believed that work and play should be synonymous. That doesn't have to mean easy, but it should be enjoyable. It should be fulfilling. It should be energy releasing, not energy consuming.

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield (founder of Ben&Jerry's ice cream), said, "If it's not fun, why do it?" I've tried to live by that motto, but all too often I get caught up in the complaining, the rationalizations, the practicality such a statement arguably lacks. Maybe it does, but I'm a much nicer, happier, productive person when I'm living it rather than trying to prove it wrong.

I love being a writer. That's the bottom line. I love putting words together, putting my imagination to play, making writing choices, solving problems, and telling truths. I love reading and re-reading those words, and re-seeing and re-writing them. I love creating characters and recording what they have to say. I love alliteration, love amplification, love repetition. I love when language becomes the sandbox. I love when someone else loves what I've written, laughs because of it, and is inspired to write something of their own. I love that I get paid for writing. And I love that I get to teach writing to others. I love talking about writing, and even writing about writing.

We should all be so blessed.