The 5 Reasons Writers Write

What excerpt will they use from this biopic of you as a famous author? What’s really driving you? Do you know the reasons writers write?

What’s at the Heart of YourStory?

A clip could show:

  • A scene from the traumatic childhood you had to overcome
  • The tearful goodbye as you left your job and love interest to focus solely on achieving your goal
  • The day you won that writing prize and proved you were an awesome writer
  • The long days crafting your writing (for older writers, the film can show a wastepaper bin filling with discarded pages)
  • The impact you had on a grateful reader, who clutches your sleeve, proclaiming, “You changed my life!”

While the end product for writers is the same–a piece of published writing–our individual motivations for writing are very different. Our sense of achievement is triggered by different aspects. Identifying what most satisfies us about writing helps us to find the right support and to understand what holds us back.

The 5 Reasons Writers Write

Those five imaginary film scenes reflect the variety of motivational drives we have as writers.

1. To Overcome

We can’t choose what life throws at us, but some of us are spurred by obstacles and opposition. Writers with this motivation love to take on the ignorant publishers who reject them and the mean one-star reviewers. They get immense satisfaction from proving the doubters wrong.

2. To Achieve the Goal

Do you like to have a clear goal to aim for? A lot of writers thrive on specific challenges like “500 words a day,” or National Novel Writing Month. They get their deepest sense of accomplishment from knowing they’ve fulfilled their goal or completed the task.

3. To Win

Few of us would turn down praise and prizes, but for some writers, beating the competition is the chief motivation. They’re motivated by a need to be the best, to stand out from the crowd, to gather accolades. They know their sales figures and Amazon rankings exactly!

4. To Create

Some writers get their chief satisfaction from the process of writing. The means matters more than the end. They spend hours if not years perfecting their prose and are avid users of writing how-to books and sites, which help them keep improving.

5. To Have an Impact

Writers with this motivation want above all to leave their mark. They’re focused on getting a response from readers or inspiring change. Sometimes the greatest satisfaction comes from seeing the impact being a writer has on their own lives.

We all feel these motivations to some degree, but there’ll be one or two which are present in everything we do because we can’t help ourselves. These are our key motivational drives. They drive us forward as writers, and they’re behind the greatest satisfaction we get from writing.

What Holds You Back as a Writer?

Knowing our key drives helps us understand what holds us back. For example:

  • Someone who’s motivated by the process of writing and perfecting their work, gets stuck because they’re constantly revising. They have to learn to accept “good enough.” I plead guilty to this!
  • Someone whose main motivation is to complete the task, rushes to publication without revising enough.
  • A writer whose deepest satisfaction comes from getting a positive reader response,  rests on their lowly laurels. I do this, too. It’s as if one nice comment satisfies my reason for writing, so there’s no need for any more marketing. This is not good!
  • A writer whose chief motivation is to be a published author with his name on the cover, doesn’t want to waste time editing what’s inside the book.
  • Someone focused on his performance becomes self-critical and finds it hard to cope with not being  good enough.
  • A writer who wants to have an impact goes too far and ends up shocking or alienating people

Do You Know Why You Write?

Ask yourself:

  • Which of those five motivational drives is strongest in you?
  • What is the most demotivating thing that can happen to you as a writer?
  • When have you felt the deepest sense of satisfaction as a writer–that moment when you experienced the buzz of “Yes! I did it” … “I got there” … “It happened!”
  • What film highlight will they show at the Oscars when the Biopic of your life as a writer is up for an award?



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