What’s Your Reason for Writing?


Last week, in one of the extra – more instructional posts – on Innovative Editing’s blog page, I ended up talking about the kinds of reasons that drive us to write in the first place.

These are important to acknowledge, and not just because they’re the motivational forces that drive us to string words together into sentences that form paragraphs to complete whole chapters of larger stories.

In many cases, they’re also what determine the exact vocabulary we select and the exact themes we weave.

Personally, I have five reasons for writing. They’re in order as follows:

  1. I really love writing. Like really, really love writing. To a perhaps unhealthy degree.

  2. In a world filled with so many opinions blasted from so many sources, there’s something comforting about having a canvas of my own to write about the world the way I see it.

  3. The idea of making money off of doing something I really, really love certainly isn’t a turn-off.

  4. There may or may not be a short list of people I’d like to eventually say “haha” to, whether totally-full-of-themselves English teachers back in high school or former coworkers who made sure to edge me out of promotional positions later on in life.

  5. It’s fun knowing that, despite how my mama taught me to be polite to people, if someone really ticks me off, I can always write them into a story in a less-than-flattering manner.

Because of reason #1, I’ve written 14.75 novel-length manuscripts.

Because of reason #2, my stories center around definite good vs. evil conflicts.

Because of reason #3, I’ve published 10 of my manuscripts and plan on publishing another two this year.

Because of reason #4, I have this stubborn refusal to give up.

And because of reason #5, I’ve incorporated at least nine former associates into my historical fiction series (all of them negative characters, which helped me restrain myself from throttling them in real life), not to mention the politicians I used as archetypes in my political thrillers.

So yeah, my reasons for writing have influenced my actual writing a lot.

But those are my motivations, a combination you may or may not be able to relate to. For all I know, you might be more mature than I am, choosing to let go of your frustrations through Yoga or meditation or marathons or something other than saying mean things about obnoxious acquaintances in fictional settings.

In which case, good for you. But you are still influenced by something, and that something – whatever it is – will show in some way, shape or form.

Knowing that, isn’t it better if you know how to use it to its best advantage?

When you do decide to analyze your efforts, there’s a whole entire list of motivations to consider. For example, here’s just a smattering of what I’ve heard my students and other fellow writers say throughout the years:

  • It’s all about the green

  • Ego

  • To prove a point

  • To make a difference in the world: addressing perceived wrongs by either encouraging people to think about them, or bashing them over the head repeatedly with a particular message until they have no choice but to concede to one’s point of view

  • To leave a legacy

  • To be remembered after death

Personally, think that last one is a little sad. As if a person’s intrinsic value can be summed up in a mere number of pages? But to each their own. If you have a story inside you that’s waiting to be written down, then I’m fine with just about anything that gets you going… including the following ones I’ve found through random searches on the internet:

"I write because I find the world is missing a person, a scene or a creature, and it is my job to fill the void."

"Getting even is way too fun."

And my personal favorite: "Because kidnapping people and forcing them to act out my interesting make-believe worlds is technically illegal."

Just technically though, right?

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