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This Writing Life: What’s My Motivation?

24 June, 2010

There is a phrase that habitually crops up whenever the subject of method acting is talked about: “what’s my motivation?” Whether or not any method actor has ever actually said this is irrelevant, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about recently. In short, why do I keep doing this? Why do I write at all?

The simple answer is because I just can’t not write. I can no longer imagine a life without writing and haven’t been able to for a very long time. Writing and the need to write comes so naturally to me that it’s never occurred to me that I can give up, let alone want to. However, there’s a difference between needing to write and wanting to make a career out of it and that’s where my motivation becomes a bit more hazy.

When I think about being a published writer, it always feels to me like the inevitable end of a life spent writing (although being published is a beginning all in itself, too). I feel that I need to keep striving towards something, namely improvement – and what better way to prove your writing has improved than to go from unpublished to published?

All of this sounds purely academic, but working out what motivates me to write has been extremely useful. I want to spend my life writing and I would like to, eventually, make something of a career our of it too. Coming to this conclusion has allowed me to work out why I keep pushing on every day. Thinking to myself ‘you want to do this for the rest of your life, so stop screwing around and get to work’ is one of the many ways I make myself write when I’d really rather laze around in the sun or turn on the X-Box.

Having this ultimate goal pushes me harder. It makes me constantly reevaulate my writing, improve it and try new things that would otherwise have looked too difficult or scary. Working out my motivation – to write, to improve, to be published, to form a lasting career – has been a big help in making me focus on my work when it would be so much easier to walk away.

So, that’s my motivation. What’s yours?

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