Anchoring to the 'Why' of Your Writing
Writing isn’t always the easy, effortless thing people sometimes imagine it to be. It takes hard work and a strong dedication not just to your writing, but also to the ‘why’ behind your writing.
Writers and authors write for a variety of reasons. Tolkien produced The Hobbit largely for the entertainment of his children. Mary Karr writes to dream and connect with others. Orwell wrote to be remembered after his death, among a half a dozen other reasons.
When you sit down at your keyboard, what drives you to continue typing word after word? What do you do to stay anchored to these drives?
It’s reasonable to have many reasons you write. I have several myself:
1) Enjoyment. While terrifying, I also enjoy the look of a blank page as it fills with the words that I will revise and polish until the page has become something entirely different. Knowing that I can take a piece of paper and morph it into emotions and dialogue and suspense fills me with an excitement unlike anything else.
2) Love of stories. I’ve always been a storyteller. I often find my mind meandering its way through a plot I hadn’t realized it was creating until I am suddenly in the midst of a war to save a family of squirrels or in the middle of a school shooting with an unsuspecting culprit. These musings all start with simple observations that I hand to my imagination like a baton and let run wild. It’s always an adventure to see what I come up with.
3) The thrill of the twist. My anxiety allows my mind to work in bizarre ways, often leading me to twisted plot points or endings. As soon as the twisted idea strikes, I run to my fiancé to gauge his reaction. I get a deep sense of pride when it is one of shock or disgust.
4) Financial benefits. Right now, this writing thing is something I do on the side. The financial freedom it has afforded me has allowed me to be more philanthropic and to find new ways to invest in my future as a writer. In addition, having both writing and editing clients has exposed me to genres and styles of writing that I would never have encountered before, enabling me to be a better editor and writer.
5) Building a career. Every word I add to my word count is another step towards making this into a career. I’ve been writing since I was young but never imagined making it into a career until I finally accepted that this is where my heart and soul truly lie.
When I’m feeling a lack of motivation, I try to anchor myself to one of these five core ‘whys’ for my writing. Consider writing down your ‘why’s and placing them somewhere prominent to serve as a daily reminder to keep going. When I’m anchored to my ‘whys,’ my writing is better, and I feel more inspired to keep doing what I love.