All serious writers have heard about the importance of motivation in a work of fiction.For you non-writers out there, the most basic definition of motivation in terms of your novel, short story, etc. can be summed up with one question: What motivates the character to do what he or she does?
With that question in mind, I have another one for you: What motivates you to do what you do?
My answer would be, “It depends.” I’m motivated by a lot of things for a lot of reasons. What motivates me in a certain situation or to do a certain thing is dependent upon what it is I want/need to do. But that’s pretty much the definition of motivation, isn’t it?
To prevent this post turning into a long-winded, confusing, stream-of-consciousness thing, I’m going to focus on one particular aspect of my life. What motivates me to write?
Well, the simplest answer to that one is that I can’t not write. I’m sure there are readers out there who have seen countless authors say this exact same thing and wonder what on earth the author is talking about. Let me try to explain. Keep in mind, this is only my experience and other authors may have a different opinion.
For me, writing is like breathing. I do it all the time, even when I don’t realize it. Something I see or hear will plant itself in my fertile imagination and soon a story is percolating in the back of my mind. Since this is the first step I take when writing a new story, I consider that percolation writing as well.
If I write myself into a corner or just plain don’t know where the story goes next, I’ll go off and do something else. Even though I’m not consciously thinking about my story, my subconscious is working through whatever issue has me at a standstill and soon a bit of dialogue or narration pops into my mind that will move the story forward. This is also writing.
Occasionally, I’ll dream about my current project or have a dream that inspires a new story. While my dreams and what end up on the page are usually not the same thing, that inspiration provides the necessary motivation to put words on paper. Again, I consider this writing.
As you can see, writing is a part of me and in every area of my life. It’s so much more than sitting at my computer and pounding out a set number of words or pages. It’s more than jotting notes on whatever scrap of paper is handy. Writing is also my brain working out the story, sometimes before I even realize the story is there.
So when I say that I can’t not write, I mean just that. The stories keep coming, the ideas demand to be put on the page, the characters beg to be brought to life for readers. Writing is an essential part of my life, and that is my main motivation. Of course, the reason I sought publication in the first place still provides me with the motivation to write and submit my work. What is that reason, you ask?
I wanted to share the stories I made up with others so they could enjoy them as well.
From comments by readers and reviewers, I think I’ve succeeded pretty well so far. Each new story offers the opportunity for me to share something I feel is important or entertaining with readers. The excitement over new possibilities is another motivating factor in my writing life.
Each new work I submit, each new story that gets published, brings out the same worry about whether others will enjoy it as much as I do. But even that worry is a form of motivation. After all, it makes me work hard to polish each story to the best of my ability and work even harder to ensure the story captures a reader’s attention.
Now that you know what motivates m, what is your motivation?