Maybe you’re going to write the “great American novel” and become rich and famous. Maybe only part of that is why you write. What are the motivations for writing and how much are they worth?
Some motivations are good, others won’t affect your writing at all, and some will help you fail as a writer. Let’s start with the three in the opening sentence.
1. You Want to Write the Great American Novel
The competition alone stacks the odds against this goal. There can be only one, so it had better be exceptional. This sets you up for perfectionism and that’s a killer to your productivity. You must accept that your first draft is garbage to be re-written. You must also put an end to revising at some time. There is a saying attributed to many writers that says, “No piece of writing is ever finished. It is abandoned.” You will need to stop revising before you’ve written the Great American Novel.
2. You Want to Write to Make Money
You’ve lost before you’ve even started. When you write for the money, you need to write for what’s selling. The odds are against that being the best genre or subject for you to write. You’ll be writing what you don’t know and don’t enjoy writing. On the other hand, you may beat the odds. The profitable genres may include one you enjoy. You may learn to love writing in a genre you didn’t originally like through doing the writing.
3. You Want to Write to Become a Famous Author
Even if you write a great book that every reader loves, it will be hidden in the crowd. Thirty thousand books are published each year. You will need to write lots of books before you will even get noticed. Your chance of becoming famous is low and you will give up before you write enough books.
There are better reasons to write.
4. You Write Because You Want to Entertain
This is a great reason to write. You’ve enjoyed books by others and want to contribute. You’ll put in the effort to ensure it’s a great read and you’ll have fun with it. It doesn’t have to be the best, just a good read.
5. You Write Because You Must
You have something to say, want to educate others, or have a story that must be told. These are all great reasons to write. You’ll do the writing even if you feel there’s no hope of getting published. Because of the writing practice you get from your efforts, your writing will improve, and so will your chances of publication.
A book is a long project. Without the right motivation, the odds are stacked against you. With the right motivation, it’s still a huge task but you will keep going.
I write fiction because I want to entertain. I write short nonfiction because I like to think I know something worth sharing.
Why do you write?
Article by Ivan Izo.