Motivations for Writing
So you’re thinking about becoming a writer. That’s great! I’d like to tell you that all you need to do is sit down and start typing, but the truth is there’s a lot more to it than that.
“Right,” you agree. “I need an idea!”
Not so fast. Before you get too far down the rabbit hole it would be beneficial to take some time to figure out why you want to write. What’s your motivation?
Maybe you have it figured out already, maybe not. If you haven’t I want to go over some of the more common motivations and the realities behind them. It’s important to do this because understanding why you are writing will tell you how to set and achieve your goals.
Fame – You’re going to be the next Stephen King or J.K. Rowling. Everyone around the globe is going to know and admire you. Sorry, no. The reality is you can achieve some local notoriety. Anything beyond that and the odds are stacked against you. If your primary objective is to be famous, being a writer isn’t a good vehicle to meet that objective. For every writer you’ve heard of there are thousands you haven’t.
Fortune – Like fame, it is possible to become rich as a writer, but it’s not likely. If you have what it takes you could make a modest living. If money is your only objective your best bet is to write romance novellas. You will have to write around one a month, develop a fan base, and keep at it for the rest of your life. Good Luck.
Self-Fulfillment/The Joy of Writing – There are those of us out there who just love to tell stories and chose to do it with the written word. The joy of the process is key, in my opinion, for anyone who is going to be a writer for the long haul. After all, if you don’t like the process then what do you think the chances are you will keep doing it year in and year out.
To Do Something Meaningful/Tell A Truth – Maybe there is something that you need to express or there may be some issue or problem that isn’t being addressed. You might decide that writing a book is the right way to bring light to the situation. You may not want to be a novelist so you might end up writing one or two books hoping to bring about some kind of change or heightened awareness on a subject that is important to you.
You should also consider what being a successful writer looks like for you. Is it becoming a New York Times Best Seller? Maybe making enough to live off your writing? Perhaps just publishing a book is enough? There are very personal questions with answers that will be specific to you and your situation.
Personally I believe if you want to be a novelist the correct mentality is to do it because you love it, infuse it with truth, and if you do it well with some luck you may have a shot at the fame and fortune, if those things are important to you.
Food for thought:
Check out Richard St. John’s TED talk on what leads to success.