What motivates you to pick up a pen or put fingers to keyboard and write? Is it the hope of riches and fame? Is it the need to communicate your thoughts and opinions to others? Or is it because those ideas buzzing around in your head won’t go away until they’ve been captured on paper? Or may be just because you enjoy it?
I expect most of us write for a combination of these reasons. Riches and fame might be at the back of our minds but we know that penning a bestseller is as likely as winning the lottery, so money alone is rarely the primary reason for becoming a writer – but the odd cheque for a story, article or reader’s letter certainly helps the enthusiasm levels!
As well as the ‘grand motivation’ for writing, we all make smaller motivational decisions over each piece that we decide to write. For instance when you decide to enter a particular competition – is it because the prize is good? Or is it because it’s smaller competition and prize, so therefore there’s a greater chance of winning? Similarly, do you only write when you have known publication or market to target? Or if an idea pops into your head do you get working on it and worry where to send it later?
Long ago I learned that it’s virtually impossible to make any sort of living from the written word so I suppose I must write because I enjoy it – although most of the time it just feels like hard work! I like the satisfaction of completing and submitting a piece, along with that surge of hope that this could be ‘the one’ that successfully hits its target.
As far as the smaller motivations, I only write if I can see where I can submit the piece. But my chosen market doesn’t have to pay a fortune (I might choose differently if I didn’t have a ‘proper’ job and therefore relied on writing for an income) – I prefer to have a greater chance of small prize/payment than a smaller chance of a bigger pot of money.
Sometimes it’s not the ‘carrot’ that’s important – it’s the need to show those that have made fun of our writing ambitions that they are wrong and that we can write well enough to be published. John Malone discusses this ‘negative’ motivation on his blog here.
So, why are you writing?