Hi everyone! I have been wondering about why I write and what motivates me to write after talking to my friend. She asked me a couple of weeks ago what is the one thing that motivates me the most (in general.) My first response was challenge. Her answer was curiosity. (Oh boy, I wanted to change my answer then and there, but then I wouldn’t be the stubborn me.) My husband also answered, and he said that you need to do something. My friend’s question is good even when I don’t think there can be only one thing that makes us do something and keeps us doing that thing. Challenge was a truthful answer because if something doesn’t hold a difficulty level and doesn’t make me use all my mental or bodily effort then why bother? (Like with climbing.) I like to dance in the line between I know this and there is more to learn and try. But it is not the only thing that makes me do something. There are internal and external motivations we put on things.
Curiosity or challenge is something that drives from the inside. Something we do for our own sake. (Some challenge themselves to be noticed or admired, but I don’t think that motives me.) But to gain respect, or money (+ likes) is something when we seek external motivations to our activities. Say, like if my only reason to write is to get as many likes as possible on Twitter, then what that means is that the writing and its message isn’t what is important, what is valuable is social validation. That leads to a whole set of problems, not only for the writer’s motivation but also to shaping what the writer writes or the painter paints. And while there is nothing wrong to test your work/talent against critique (and gain praises, praises are good for your spirit,) but if the sole driving force of working is gaining likes or money not only it puts extra pressure to perform, it also destroys the love of doing that thing by moving the value from the activity to those gains. A social psychology experiment tested this hypothesis on children and their willingness to draw with magic markers. As soon as the researcher introduced a reward system, the children lost their interest in drawing and saw it as a chore. Before the rewards, they had drawn for their own sake. To enjoy, to test, for fun, out of curiosity, maybe?
I’m not saying that all artist should stop taking money or hush all the good words towards their work. No, of course not, those are important factors in life (we all need to eat and feel good about ourselves,) but if they are the sole reasons to write or paint or compose music, then I think there are easier ways to gain money, power, respect, and admiration than trying to create. And I have to note here there are successful writers, musicians, and painters who have admitted the only reason they composed a piece, wrote a book, painted a painting had been to gain money, and they did it in the safe “fail-proof” way and got what they wanted. That happens. Surprisingly a lot. And I don’t think that is selling out or a bad thing if they saw it necessary. They succeeded, and that is what matter. But with the long-term motivation to write, there needs to be something that brings the person back in front of the computer to spend hours upon hours alone, dreaming up words and worlds. For me, the reason was, why not, I have nothing better to do? And while I write, I can use all my skills, knowledge, and capacity and feel joyous if I get the idea inside my head on paper. The bonus is if someone enjoys reading it and gains something from my words. But it is easy to lose track of that joy when you need to perform. And I’m no stranger to those feelings and needs. Those are only natural. The trick is to remind yourself why you do it. What drew you in? For me, it is the love for stories and storytelling, and also I saw writing as an avenue to write about social issues funnily.
Finding back to that spirit of doing for the sake of doing isn’t easy, not in our society which has taught us early on that the only reason to do something is to gain respect (high marks) or money. And we can see where such actions have led: conformity, people are more stressed out, they seek outside validation for their worth and meaning, they run after money or power as if it will save them, and they forget that honestly, we are here for each other. The value of our input to our society is what it brings to those around us and to ourselves, be it farming, be it a nice story in a cold, gloomy morning, be it a tune, or an invention, or taking care of the sick and elderly. All those actions were initially done for others, and now we do them to gain money or likes on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and where else? That moves the value and motivation to arbitrary measures.
Have a nice day!