Friday, December 4, 2009

What's Your Motivation?

This is a repost from May. I feel like such a cheater. :)

I’m not one who will tell you I’ve wanted to be a writer since I first held a pencil. In fact, when I was a kid, I wanted to work for Disney as an animator when I grew up (along with a long list of other things, but we won’t get into that—this post is going to be long enough as it is).

I’ve always enjoyed writing—except for my sophomore year in high school when my English teacher tried to suck all the joy out of it with the accursed 3-prong essay—but until I started this blog, the only voluntary writing I did was in my journal and a children’s book I wrote about five years ago. That’s still sitting in the darkest corner of my documents folder, waiting for me to do illustrations for it. As you can see, I’m very motivated to finish those.

My mother always kept a journal and encouraged me and my siblings to keep one as well. Since her passing, I’ve been very grateful to have a record of her life from her perspective, and it’s motivated me to keep up to date on mine. But the stuff I write in my journal is not something I want to share with the world or even something that anyone else would be interested in reading. So, how did I go from writing in a journal to thinking I'm capable of writing a novel other people will want to read?

Well, there’s a bit of arrogance behind the answer to that question. Whenever I attempt to do something new, it usually starts with the thought, “If so-n-so can do it, I should be able to do it too. Probably better.” This is usually not the case, but a little delusion never hurt anyone, right?

I’m also very interested in learning new things, and that often plays a role in my decision to try something new, but the main focus is usually the challenge to do something as well as or better than someone else. I’m constantly comparing myself to others. Sometimes it’s frustrating, but it also motivates me to do better.

Last fall (2008), I read a book that I’m sure many of you have read, and upon finishing it, I thought, “If this got published, surely I can write something good enough to publish.” It was a nice thought, but I’ve learned since then that some people are just lucky, and even if I could write the perfect novel (subjective, I know) there is still a good possibility I'll never get published or even find an agent.

I’ve also learned that my writing was terrible then (and not necessarily great now, but better, I hope), and I was seriously delusional about a lot of things about the publishing industry. But even knowing what I know now, I’m still motivated to write and share the stories that are floating around in my head. I think maybe I’ve finally discovered the thing I can be truly passionate about it. Miracles do happen. Now, if I could just make some money doing it. :)

So, tell me. What motivates you to write? Why do you block out the real world to delve into imaginary places? Is it something you feel compelled to do or just a creative outlet?


  1. No way! I wanted to be an animator for Disney too- I even checked out their college in Valencia. And then I realized making a portfolio was a lot of work (the bane of teenagers) and that drawing was my creative outlet, not my job.

    I have to write. I do it every day, even though getting into that habit was hard. My major goals in life are to travel the world and get HATSHEPSUT published.

  2. I love this post :).

    I feel compelled to write. It makes me happy, but I also think it's the thing I'm best at, and it would be a shame to waste it and never do anything with it.

    As far as the delusion goes, I think that's what writers need to start in the first place ;). Starting any new project is terrifying! I think we have to be a little delusional starting out, or we'd be paralyzed by our own doubt :P.

  3. I just enjoy doing it. It's something I'll never be able to stop, even if I never get published.

  4. We must be on the same wavelength today, I posted on what keeps writers going as well, lol. I think at the root for me will always be just a love of creating stories. But I won't lie and say that I'm not motivated by the hope that maybe, just maybe, my dream of making a career out of this will come true.

  5. I love drawing also but I'm lousy at it. So I just draw with words instead.

    I write because I must. It's a huge part of me. Words define me and my world. And the creative part of it, it's just fun.

  6. Writing was always something I did for fun, never something I thought I could do for a living. HS English teachers really drained all the fun out of writing for me. In college, I was waaaay too busy to write for pleasure. Hell, I was too busy to even read for pleasure.

    Now I write because I want to see the characters in my head come to life. If I can share them with the world someday that would be even better.

    Oh, and sorry I never got your pages back to you last night. Star Trek came from Netflix. Priorities, ya know. ;)

  7. I write because I can't draw. I've tried. Really tried. I can't.

    No, seriously! I can't draw, but I've been one of those "writing since I could hold a pencil" types. But I always put other stuff first - college, career, marriage, raising my son and annoying dog.

    Now I'm trying to make writing a priority, too, but it's tough to fit it all in. I am not a daily writer, because I have to pull my head out of my book from time to time to get stuff done in real life. And when the fog of obsession clouds my mind, I can't think about anything else.

    So I'll focus on writing for a couple of weeks, scramble to get caught up with life again, then when I feel I can risk it, I'll go back to writing.

  8. I write because I enjoy getting lost in the 'zone.' Although that doesn't happen everyday, it happens enough to keep me going. Becoming a published author was a dream that came true for me, so yes, miracles do happen - don't give up.

  9. Stephanie: That is so cool! I figured the same thing too. I knew if I made a career out of it, I would grow to hate it.

    Becca: Thanks! A little delusion can go a long way. :)

    Susan: I don't think I could ever stop either.

    Roni: Great minds... ;) Hope for publication does add a little extra motivation. :)

    L.T.: I like that--drawing words. Well put.

    Tere: What?! You're world doesn't revolve around me? We are so not friends anymore. Seriously, you've only had them two days. I wasn't expecting you to get back to me that quick. Thanks for all the help! You're awesome!

    Christine: The real world does have a way of disrupting the imaginary ones. Sadly. ;)

    Jane: I love being lost in the 'zone' too. :) Writing is a great way to escape and deal with stress.

  10. What motivates me to write? That I have a story to tell, something that will resonate with others, for a day, a week, a month, or maybe even a life time.

    Also for the creative process of that which is writing. Since becoming a mom 8 years ago, I've been seeking a creative outlet. I've come home to writing again, a craft I started as young girl filling 40+ journals since then.

    PS: Enjoyed reading your "About me" -- I'm also a raving lunatic mama writer seeking publication!

  11. it's the thing I'm best at, and it would be a shame to waste it and never do anything with it.

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