I was asked the other day why I write. For the first time in a long while, I struggled to find an answer. I have a preprepared answer for when I meet new people, but I was taken aback this time because it was my sister who asked.
I eventually said that writing felt like my purpose. It’s the only thing I’ve ever felt consistently motivated to do. It’s the only thing I can see myself doing for the rest of my life. It’s my passion. I love it, but it took me a long time to get to this place. I wasn’t always motivated to write, and I wanted the outcome without the hard work.
I want to help you guys find your passion for writing. I think I can do this by helping you figure out what will motivate you to do the hard parts.
Extrinsic vs Intrinsic Motivation
I’m not going to go too deeply into these concepts, but I’ll give you a quick overview of what they mean and which motivation you should pursue.
Extrinsic motivation is when you are motivated by an external force. This is along the vein of cleaning your room because your mother told you to. You basically are doing something because an external reason made you feel as though you should.
In the writing community, it could look like following the advice ‘write every day’ because you read that you should. Or writing in a genre because the genre you want to write in isn’t prestigious enough for your snobby friend’s taste.
Extrinsic motivation is excellent in some circumstances, but not when you’re trying to build a writing habit that will last a lifetime.
What you want instead is intrinsic motivation. This is something that you are doing for yourself. You cleaned your room because it makes you feel good to be in a fresh space. I published my first poetry collection because I wanted to be an author. I’m writing my first novel because I had a story running around in my head that I needed to write. I went back to university because I knew I needed to be a writer.
Extrinsic motivation will help you get something done in the short term. Intrinsic motivation will help you build a lifelong habit.
To find intrinsic motivation, I want you to dig deep and think about what you really want to get from your writing.
When it comes to desire, it’s okay to dream big, but try to stick to goals that you can accomplish independently. You don’t have control over whether or not your book will win an award, instead consider things that you can do yourself. It’s okay to hunt unicorns and aim for traditional publishing or even a big five book deal, provided you don’t tie up your worth as a writer in achieving these goals.
Make a list of everything you want from your writing. Then separate the goals that you can control from the goals you can’t. At this point, if you’re particularly creative, you might make a vision board. Or, if you’re like me, you start building a five-year plan, but we’ll discuss that in the next section.
Once you’ve dreamt up a few ideas, it’s time to set goals. I did this by setting up a five-year plan and then removing goals that are unrealistic or not controllable by me, as discussed in the last section.
I have a monetary goal. I have two publishing goals, and I have a (writing) business goal. These are all things that I can control one way or another.
I broke them down into steps that I knew I could reach. Where possible, I also gave myself multiple ways of achieving the same goal. I believe it’s important to have a failsafe for when things go wrong. So my monetary goal can be achieved either through writing income or by getting a job that will allow me to continue my writing journey.
Another great way to find motivation is to figure out the purpose of your writing. It’s no secret that I write my articles to the younger version of myself. Perhaps you have someone that you want to write to or a theme you want to write about.
Writing has the power to impact the world by impacting a life. I’ve learnt countless lessons from books. So what do you want to teach?
We all want to look back on our lives and say we accomplished our goals.
When searching for motivation, consider what you want to accomplish with your writing.
Is it to reach a certain amount of readers, sell copies, publish a number of books?
This is where you can start dreaming about those awards.
Accomplishments are things that we pick up along the path to success. They are not goals because they are not a part of our writing motivation. I still like to have a list of accomplishments that I want to achieve because it helps me work to a higher standard.
Have fun dreaming about your future as a writer.
As always, I cannot wait to see you on the bookshelf!