24 September 2010

Why do you Write?

"I don't think I want to be a pilot", my nearly seven-year old asked me. "Pilots don't have much fun. Can I be a scientist instead?"
"You can be whatever you like, as long as you are having fun", I told my son. "Enjoying what you are doing is the most important thing. It doesn't make sense doing something unless you have fun doing it."

Pat came the answer. "In that case, I don't want to study. Studying is not much fun."
I don't think I need go into the long discussion we then had about how it was important to do certain things now, so you could have fun later - any parent or teacher would be more than familiar with that particular discussion - but it did set me thinking.

I am one of those lucky people who has always had the privilege of being able to allow her career choices to be dictated by whether she was having fun or not. Sure there have been periods where I have marked time doing what I did not particularly like in anticipation of getting the experience to do something more fun in future. But for the most part, I have been able to afford doing what gives me most pleasure. The things I do outside work are also things I enjoy doing - running, reading, writing, photography. There are also the necessary evils - dusting, cooking, cleaning, commuting - but those are things that need to be done in order to survive, we don't have much choice in the matter.

Which then brings me to the question of motivation, and more particularly finding the motivation to write. All of us are either writers or have aspirations of being writers (and if you don't fall in either category, please crawl back under the stone you came from). Quick question for you - Why do you Write? Or, more accurately, why did you start writing?

There would be as many unique answers as there are people reading the question, but all of them will boil down to some variation of, "I started writing because I love writing."

The next question may need you to be more introspective - Why have you continued Writing? Answers can range from 'because I want to see my name in print', to 'because I want people to read my stories'. From, 'because I have stories to tell', to 'because my characters do not let me be till I write down their stories.' The answer may even be 'because I want to make money from my skill'.

If it is the last, you should not be seeking motivation - you have defined writing as your job, and you better put your head down and do your job or else...

But, if the answer is any of the others, put a 'why' before your answer - 'why do you want to see your name in print' - and keep doing it till you get an answer that boils down to 'because I LOVE writing'.

And the next time you find yourself running short on motivation, repeat that mantra to yourself, "I write because I LOVE writing." Once you realise that the reason you continue writing is the same reason that got you writing in the first place - the fact that writing is fun - the motivation to keep pegging away will come.

And if it doesn't? Maybe then you need to take a break from writing till the motivation comes back.

Happy Writing!
Photographs- Author's Own.
Models - Would you like to borrow them for a couple of days, I promise I wouldn't ask for ransom to take them back?


M.J. Nicholls said...

Excellent question. My tutor asked this last week. The people who said for the love, or because they were addicted to telling stories, had the healthier approach.

Writing for recognition, adoration or money is usually destructive.

j said...

Great post! I have been asking myself these questions a lot lately. I'm trying to take my writing more seriously which is hard when no one really understands the passion of writing!

Hart Johnson said...

I have an answer, but FIRST, I want to compliment your eye--these three pictures of your son, each with just a little red, create such a beautiful balance on the page. Doing such a thing has never ONCE occurred to me, yet look how elegant it is... (that would be why YOU are the photographer)

I FIRST wrote to make sense of things... to release emotions that I was having trouble coping with. On the PAGE, they took on order... there were patterns. I could makes sense of them, and deal with them.

I write NOW... because I like creating the order, but in a different fashion... pulling things together that appeal to me and turning them into one cohesive thing. The fan fiction (and a dozen random theories) started it... overlaid into a single (well, three actually--but on about different subgroups of stuff) story. Almost all my books have had ideas that occurred to me separately, that when I really got down to creating the story, allowed me to put them together to create an orderly tale.

CA Heaven said...

Your 7 year old is right; scientists have more fun.

And regarding your question; why write. I do it just for fun. I enjoy writing both science papers and the blog stuff >:)

Cold As Heaven

Natasha said...

@ Mark- writing could be a career for some people, but for most of us, the day it stops being fun is perhaps the day we should start thinking of why we are doing it.

@ Jennee- don't let anyone dissuade you. If you want to write, write. Because if you deny it now, it will only keep coming back into your life till you let it in.

@ Tami- I wish I could take credit for it, but I am not sure picking photographs with a little bit of red in them was deliberate.
Both your reasons for writing make so much sense. And the reason why I am not attempting a "proper" book right now is because your second reason is not really happening for me right now.

@ Cold As Heaven- they do, don't they? Even though the only scientist he knows is Tony Stark, who uses a rusty tire to hold up a cyclotron.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

I write because if I didn't I would explode.

That's it. :)

Jemi Fraser said...

This reminds me of advice I often gives my students: find your joy. It's so important - otherwise I think we shrivel our souls.

Shaharizan Perez said...

I write for several different reasons: escapism, emotional outlet, stress reliever and most of all because I love writing.

Natasha said...

@ Theresa- that seems to be the # 1 reason why most people who write, write.

@ Jemi- if you are not happy doing what you are doing, maybe it is time to re-evaluate your life. That is what I feel.

@ Chary- precisely!! I bet you would write even if you were not good at writing as long as it gave you pleasure.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I write because I enjoy it and wanted the opportunity to share at least one story with the world. Like you, I enjoy what I do for a living, so writing will never be about making a living. Just for fun!