This post was updated on Aug 19th, 2021
I would just like to say, that this is by no means a comprehensive explanation for every writer motivation out there, as we are all unique and creative individuals. However, why we write tends to be a common discussion among many of the writers I know. There are a lot of people who write, but not all people who write are writers. That being said, I wanted to take a moment to discuss three common reasons writers admit feeling driven to write because I personally am tired of the stereotypes of introverts curled up in cabins in the woods or tortured souls. (Or nutjobs who torture others. We only do that in our books, people!)
So, after nearly 15 years in the writing community, here are the most common reasons I have seen for writer motivation:
Mode of Expression
I think for most writers, words are an innate mode of expression. When we think of stories, often, the words are what drive us. We who write love the words and the ability to shape feelings and thoughts in such a manner that others can relate. While often people think that writers are able to do this because they feel more/differently than other people. If we felt more than other people felt, then they could not relate to our writing. But our ability to express those feelings that others feel, but are not able to express themselves, is what makes us unique and is what makes people read what we write. Even though they might not express themselves the way we do, they can relate to our expression and that is what makes it real for them. Now, for many words may be the first step in their mode of expression, but they may not be the main way that their work is displayed. For many, those words will go on to become video content, webtoons, movies, games, or something else combining a visual element. While those people are writers, they are also something else. Storytellers
The Need to be Storytellers
Another reason we write is to share stories. Most writers don’t write because they desire fame, fortune, and notoriety. Most of us write to tell stories. We want to enrich the world with new ideas and concepts. We feel a passion for our stories or perspectives and we want to show others that, much in the way that new parents show off their kids. We create through a labor of love for the material and the characters and we want the world to meet our characters and feel the same way we do.
Whether our medium is a blog, a vlog, short stories, novels, nonfiction, graphic novels, webtoons, spoken word, shorts, television, films, theater, speeches, courses- so many mediums that all require the passion of storytelling and often start with the written word. We want to tell a story that creates all the feels. It is much like having a child. The pain and labor that goes into creating it, the passion to share this beautiful thing you made, the dreams of how this beautiful thing will change your life and the lives of all it touches, the hopes for what it will become.
I think this is why many writers have a hard time with negative reviews. I mean, how would you feel if someone called your kid ugly? And our works are like our children. We spend so much time and energy making them, expecting little monetary reward in the end. (Sounds like parenting to me!!) And it is just as fulfilling as parenting too as any writer who is a parent can attest.
Other Common Reasons
Sure, there are those who go into writing because they hear it’s easy. But they don’t last long. Because even for those who love it, it is not easy. It is frustratingly, beautifully, chaotically messy, and complex with brief moments of brilliance where everything just comes together. But it is not easy.
There are those who are told they have to publish- researchers, some colleges require staff to regularly publish, entrepreneurs, speakers, coaches all are told that publishing a book is the way to drive audiences to support their true passion. But unless they are a writer inside this is viewed as a daunting task to keep their true mode of expression intact.
There are those seeking the fastest path to Fame and Fortune. After a few books when they don’t feel like the next Hot Ticket, they move on to the next “fast path”.
Some just have one all-encompassing story they feel compelled to tell and once that is done they never feel the need to write again. There’s nothing wrong with that. We have some amazing one-hit wonders in the writing realm.
Because We Must
I can honestly say, and I think most writers would agree, that even if I knew my writing would never be published and I would never get paid, I could never stop writing. Sure, it is nice to receive some compensation for what I have done, but it is so much more rewarding to see someone smile or tell me that they love my character, or that they were not expecting that wild twist. I don’t write for the paycheck, I write to relate to others. Although I will (probably) never have a lot of money from writing, I will be far richer for the difference I have made in others lives. Unfortunately, some feel that because of that attitude that so many in the arts community in general have, we can be paid less. We shouldn’t be paid less simply because we’re compelled to do it. But that is why My Blood, Sweat and Tears are No Longer Free
That is why we write.
Do you have a different perspective? Did I miss a common trend for why writers write?
Feel free to share in the comments below.
Until next time,