Why write.. now there is a question for the ages. Of course, my smart mouth would immediately rebut with ‘Why not?’ yet that avoids the point of this exercise. The point today is to examine your motive. For writing, there are many. I have separated writers into 10 primary groups based on motivation alone. Perhaps you’ll fit into one group, perhaps several. Perhaps you began in one and moved to another. Have a look, this week is more about knowing the self and perceptions of oneself than it is theory or practical lesson.
The “Writing so I don’t have to get a ‘real job’ “writer (aka: The Bum)
There are the poor, misguided souls who expect to become the next Stephen King overnight, to live comfortably off of the earnings of their casual scrawling. We smile at this type and wait for them to starve and produce something of value or give up, as that is typically the result. Most writers tend to pay this sort little mind, with their shallow dreams and pale reflections of reality.
The ‘I must show the world!’ writer (aka: The Dreamer)
They have a vision, and they want to share it with anyone willing to see it. It is a beautiful thing, usually indicative of younger writers, full of passion and hope. We like to encourage this, but we also tend to look at them with a sad knowledge that one day that bubble will burst. There will be a thing written that will be so terribly misunderstood and unappreciated that this writers heart will break. We only hope they will not give up, and they will attack the thing again with renewed vigor.
The ‘I want attention’ writer (aka: The Narcissist)
Luckily this type never sticks with it for long. They tend to write mindless dribble, have no appreciation for the craft, nor the effort put into it. This writer wants the respect and admiration of his peers, a group that will likely change as quickly as the interest in writing does. The common writer ignores these, typically, they are easy to spot.
The ‘In love with everything’ writer (aka: The Hippy)
Similar to The Dreamer, but not limited to whatever vision may have them so fixed. The Hippy sees beauty in everything, they love everything, and so they write for and to everything. It may be the way a leaf lights on the wind or the way a taxi spatters through a mud puddle, the Hippy will make it beautiful.
The ‘Must find myself’ writer (aka: The Soul Seeker)
This writer sees things that most don’t, because they look at everything far more deeply than the average person. They analyze every detail of everything, they may magnify or diminish these aspects as they see fit. They often write subjective works, intended to make the reader think. They must be cautious not to lose the reader by delving too deeply into a thing that not everyone can see.
The ‘I wonder if I can do this’ writer (aka: The Student)
This writer is always looking for a challenge. They try new styles, new ideas constantly, if for no other reason than to see if they can pull it off. Encourage this type, as they will often surprise you with the span of their potential.
The ‘I write for me’ writer (aka: The Collector)
The Collector doesn’t care if you understood his work, it wasn’t for you. If you got it, you enjoyed it, that’s great, but if you didn’t? He still won’t change a thing. He creates things for himself, adds them to his menagerie of pretty things and sits them upon his shelf.
The ‘Before I lose it, find me something to write on!’ writer (aka: The Compulsive)
He writes because he has to. He wouldn’t know what else to do. He sees things or thinks of them and the natural response is to write them. There are quite a few of these, and that’s good. Writing comes with inspiration, wherever it may find you.
The ‘Looking for a way to express myself’ writer (aka: The Lost Soul)
This writer looks to the craft as a new and wondrous thing, and escape from the harsh realities that he must face and so he pours himself into another reality, one of his own creation. He seeks a way to put to words the things that he sees, feels, fears and hopes. Good stuff can come from this, just be careful lest you get all teen angsty.
Finally, the ‘I published my first full length novel at age 12’ writer (aka: The Professional)
He has seen it all. He was writing features while you were in diapers. He is a wealth on information, and he is usually willing to give it to you, if you can tolerate knowing that he plays a different sort of ball than you do. This is his job, it’s what he does, a dabbler in his art is to him, just that. He doesn’t mean to condescend, nor does he mean to be right all the time. He just is. We all want to hate these writers to some degree, if only out of pure jealousy of their success. When faced with fact, however, we tend to value their input.
Each has validity in its own right, each has place and purpose. So I’ll ask again, what type of writer are you? Why do YOU write? Would you sing us a song, would you be seen, would you offer a gift of vision, is it a need that you cannot explain? In order to write well, one must first know why it is they write. Find what actually motivates you, and you will not only find the experience of writing far more enjoyable, but the reader will sense the honesty of your work.