When I write, it’s all about telling a story. The question is… what motivates me to put together all those words? Why not choose an easier more profitable profession? Like me, every writer has their own reasons for writing.
Why I Write What Keeps Me Doing It
The famous writer, George Orwell in his essay, Why I Write, surmises the motivation behind a writer’s dedication comes down to four key factors.
1. Sheer Egoism
A desire to show off. Like every writer I believe I have something unique to offer. In order to even think that means I have at least a big enough ego to consider my work readable. It is. Yet, this alone is not the reason why I write. Yes, I do think people will love reading my work. Honestly, for me, it’s not that simple. In my experience reading has helped me to grow. I want to write stories that do that. Okay, that is a bit egotistical just to think I’m someone who can take on the task. According to Orwell, serious writers are more “vain and self-centered than journalists, though less interested in money.” Ha, ha. This may have been true in 1946, but I’d say journalist are far more self-centered these days.
The point is however, ego is all mixed up in this writing thing. Still, doesn’t mean I’m totally self-centered. I care. If, my writing can help others, I want it to do just that. Heck, even if it didn’t, I’d keep writing. Seems it is my big fat ego driving my desire to write.
2. Is Aesthetic Enthusiasm The Reason Why I Write?
Probably. Aesthetic enthusiasm is a love of words and I have bucket loads. My mother gave it to me. Words mattered to her. She shared her words with me and inspired… sorry, forced me to grow my vocabulary. As a writer, I fill my days grappling with words because I hope to make something sound perfect. During my writing sessions, I focus on style, structure, diction and more. It all matters. The effort put into every sentence, paragraph and page means its love. Money is not a motivator. Maybe it is ego.
3. Historical Impulse Is Not The Reason Why I Write
Orwell defines historical impulse as “Desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity.” I’m not in this group at all. While I will read historical fiction, it’s not my favorite genre. I don’t even like history. Hands down, my worst subject in school. On the other hand, I have an abundance of “see things as they are” qualities. For sure, I have a societal impulse. Changing outlooks, social commentary and personal freedom form the roots of why I write. In a way, social commentary mixes into history. No matter the time period, how people act, what people do, the laws governments make, and the social ills citizens tolerate reflect our history and it is all fodder for social commentary. Ultimately, the things people do motivate me most. Perhaps that’s historical impulse.
4. Political purpose
To influence. When it comes to the political, Orwell uses broad strokes. He says his goal is to “alter other people’s idea of the kind of society that they should strive after.” Me too. I also write to influence. My hope is to change minds, share insights and to give perspective. Perhaps, philosophical purpose is the better term. Look at me, editing Orwell. That’s pure ego. Seriously though, every writer has some kind of philosophy whether conscious or not. Even if my life philosophy is not the reason why I write, it sure works its way into the stories I tell.
5. A Fifth Reason Why I Write
The love of great stories. Is it possible to tell a story without the other four items? Probably not. Even so, for me it starts with story. Maybe that’s the subtle thing that moves people from being readers to being writers. Without doubt, compelling stories pay attention to aesthetics, tune into the historical or social impulse and evaluate political and philosophical ideas. But even before all that is the desire to tell the story in the first place. Start with a love of storytelling and then mix in the rest. Boom, you’re a writer.
In the end, the reasons why I write include all of the listed items. Although, I’d like to exempt myself from writing out of sheer egoism, I know that would be… well, about my ego.