Day 13: What motivates you to keep writing?
Deadlines. Deadlines and coffee.
OH, you mean the POSITIVE things.
Well, let me first say this: deadlines have their positive attributes, too. If you have them, it means that someone is expecting your work, which means that someone will be reading your work (and why does a writer write except to be read?), probably that somebody has already admitted to liking your work, and it may very well mean that there is money involved. I just finished my second paid freelance gig ever and actually have a check on the way. Ain’t gon’ lie: had myself a wee bedroom dance party just now.
But let’s be realistic: I didn’t become a writer for the money. Nobody who wanted to would blow 5-10 years worth of regular freelance gigs on a university education in creative writing. Ha, ha, ha…
So what are some of the other things that regularly motivate me to keep writing?
1. Fans. Having loyal readers is priceless for motivation—they encourage us writers in so many ways. From friends to family to online followers (and yes, ideally, one day we all want to be the next J.K Rowling with readers all over the world), fans motivate me with everything from praise (“loved your story!”) to pressure (“why haven’t I seen anything from you lately?”) to the simple anticipation that what I’m writing will be read by somebody else. That in itself creates a beautiful space for meaning.
2. Challenges. I’m no Type A, but a good creative challenge really fires me up. Even though it might initially stress me out, I like prompts that push me to think on my feet and make new connections and try something utterly foreign and scary. This last freelance gig I did? (My second real paid one. Ever.) It was a script-writing assignment for a potential commercial.
I’d never written script before.
Also, the client needed it within 36 hours of the time the assignment was described to me.
Excuse me while I get up and dance again.
3. The Need. The need for expression is twofold for me: on the one hand there is the need to express myself creatively (it is my lifeblood); on the other is the need to record. I’ve kept many, many journals over the years, often haphazard and scattered accounts. But every single entry—no matter how inconsistent or boy-crazy—captured a single moment in time. Put it in amber. I can relive the moment in clear detail and feeling whenever I leaf through the pages.
4. The Learning Curve. I’ve recently realized that even fiction (sometimes even poetry) requires a great deal of research in order to be convincing. For me that’s no concern—I love learning! The only issue is that research time takes away from actual writing time… But really. How cool is it to have a [hobby] [profession] [need] that keeps you mentally agile and privies you to loads of awesome, unsung info?
5. Good Writing. When in doubt, look to your writing idols and role models. They made it and so can you. How did they do it? What wisdom do they offer? There’s a trove of motivation / inspiration to be had right on your bookshelf.