I write a lot.
I write a LOT.
I’ve written since I was a kid, from early lessons at school right through to now, 40 years later. In my novels alone, I’ve written something over a million words. Over a 20-year career, I dread to think how that number is dwarfed. If I consider every email that I’ve ever sent…
Each of us. Every day. Writers.
Yet, how many of us think of why we’re writing. What we want to achieve by putting metaphorical pen to metaphorical paper.
Julia Cameron’s excellent book ‘The Right to Write’ lays a lot of groundwork for understanding how writing connects us to our experience.
[for anyone who writes and who encounters blocks… Yeah, like that ever happens, right :o) … I urge you to buy a copy of Julia’s book and use the practices she describes]
We write to claim our world. To name it. To speak it. To make sense of it.
Everyone who writes adds to our understanding of the human condition.
Everyone who writes is a teacher. It doesn’t matter whether the lesson is odd, useful or just plain weird, it is still a lesson.
So, with that in hand, why am I writing?
If I look at McClelland’s research on motives, then there are 3 needs which we seek to meet by writing:
- Achievement – the need to experience accomplishment, mastery of skills and high standards
- Affiliation – the need to experience warm, fulfilling social relationships
- Power – the need to have an impact on others, negatively (personalized power) or positively (socialized power)
Or let’s put that in words that make sense when it comes to writing:
- I write because I want to produce the best writing in the world.
- I write because I want to make connections with people through my writing.
- I write because I want to change people or the world through my writing.
If you are a writer, stop to put some thought to those statements. if you had 100 chips and had to distribute them across those three options how would they fall? There is not right or wrong, better or worse in these three statements. But it’s important to always assess whether your writing is meeting those needs. For example, if you write to form connections, but your writing is produced as a solitary occupation, remaining locked in your laptop, it’s a fair bet that your writing life is leaving you dissatisfied, frustrated and unmotivated. If that’s you… Please, please, please join a writer’s circle, or send me some of your writing so I can read it, or sign up at We Are Story and get writing – anything that will help you connect with others who can participate in your work
I’ve had the benefit of formal assessment on these motives and can tell you the following:
I write because I want to change the world, I’ll do this by making strong connections regardless of the whether the writing is perfect or not.
I write to change the world.
I have to, and do, believe that my writing – whether delivered online, in books, in song, in powerpoint slides – changes the world.
Otherwise, why do it?
[the real answer to that being “I can’t NOT do it”]
It’s taken nearly 40 years of writing for me to get comfortable enough with the process to be able to answer the question of ‘Why?’ – but I’m here, and I’m writing.
Thank you for reading, you have my love,