Writing-What’s your motivation?

    I’m going to go out on a limb this week and start the post with an opinion; one’s motivation has a direct correlation with fulfillment. We all have reasons for our pursuits. My belief is quite simple. If you do something for the right reason, that something is, in and of itself, your reward.

    Our motivations can be as varied as our individual personalities. However, there are two motives that I consider to be on opposite ends of the spectrum—passion and money. And though it’s certainly appropriate to chase after a dream for both reasons, successfully achieving this goal is elusive indeed. I know a handful of people who can lay claim to both in a singular pursuit, but their numbers are sparse. Therefore, I will treat them as separate entities.

    My goal is to write fiction full-time, but the following discussion could certainly apply to any career. Suffice to say, I’m not independently wealthy. Therefore, I must continue on with my present, full-time career for now. The bills must be paid. As a result, I rise at 5 AM most mornings and retire around 11:30 PM most evenings. I utilize as many of these early and late night hours as I can writing, editing, etc.

    My motivation is passion. 

    I have a fellow writer friend who we will call “Steve” for the purposes of this article. Steve truly believes he will  excel in his new endeavor by churning out novel after novel. Granted, he is a very prolific author and a good one. His journey on the writer’s road is at roughly the same point as my own. It’s just beginning.

    His motivation is money.

    Our initial goals are one and the same … to become successful authors. After that, the similarities end. Don’t get me wrong—I do wish to be compensated financially for my writing. This is an objective of most career choices, but it’s not my motivation. And Steve does indeed like to write. He just wishes for a career that’s not too strenuous, carries a certain level of prestige, and promises a lucrative windfall. Steve makes no bones about it. His most prominent concern is the money. Ha!

    Thus begins the meat and potatoes of this week’s post, ladies and gentlemen.

    I’ll state right up front that my friend is well aware of my stance, as we have debated this topic at length. He respects my view and has given me his blessing to use our differences of opinion and outlook for my blog post. In deference to him, let me start with his perspective.

    Steve’s ebook went live roughly the same time as my own and has sold equally as well. Yet, he is very disappointed with his numbers so far. My guesstimate is that he checks his sales a minimum of 16 to 18 times a day. He then complains that more people should be buying his book. After all, he certainly pushes it enough. I’m sure it appears on Twitter at least forty times per day. However, I’ve yet to see him immersed in a conversation that wasn’t about his book. He is very aggressive with promotion, making sure his novel pops up everywhere. Steve will tell you how hard he has worked to write a great book and that people owe him a read. Personally, I feel he’s achieved great success thus far. It’s not enough for Steve.

    It will never be enough.

    He is constantly stressed out and discouraged. Personally, I fear Steve will wash out of this new career as things just aren’t happening fast enough. He sprinted off from the starting blocks and is now looking a tad bit winded.

    My journey, approach, and experience differs greatly from Steve’s. Though I’ve certainly encountered stressful days, my experience has been one of pleasure and excitement. I wrote my novel because the subject matter fought its way out of my soul and on to the electronic page. My work is an extension of my voice and my feelings concerning topics that I’m passionate about. Completing my book was victory number one. Unlike Steve, I feel a brand new victory every day, every time someone chooses to give my novel a shot. I’m truly humbled by it, as these people owe me nothing.

    Many of the folks who have been kind enough to support my work are those who I’ve developed a relationship with. Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and the like have been a virtual joy for me. The people I’ve been fortunate enough to interact with have been kind and giving. If and when they choose to check out my work, it will be just that…their choice, not a favor I’ve asked or some sort of coercion. Granted, it may be a form of marketing to talk shop with fellow authors, and I certainly wish for my work to be read, but I’ll not ask for their time. It belongs to them. Friendship is the goal and passion its motivation.

    Lead with passion and you may find people identify with you and relate to your work. Passion is an energy that’s undeniable and contagious. I’m not saying that I don’t promote my book directly—I certainly do. I just try to do so gradually, so as not to overwhelm those who use social media for just that—being social. I truly value the connections and friendships I’m making along the way. My book is definitely going to come along for the ride. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m in this for the long haul. It’s a marathon for me. I’ll continue to pace myself and enjoy the scenery. There will be highs and there will be lows. I’m OK with that.

    I’m not in this for the fame or the glory…I’m in it because I love it and because I want to be heard.

    Are you listening Steve?

    As always, I welcome any comments, feelings and input you may have after reading this week’s post. Thank you for taking the time to visit. I’m @threecifer on Twitter. By all means, give me a shout if the feeling moves you.

    All the best, AB

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29 Responses to Writing-What’s your motivation?

  1. Larry Enright says:

    Very much right on, Al. 🙂

  2. Michael Radcliffe says:

    Great post Al! I can relate – as a new author, I’m honored when someone chooses to purchase my novel or one of my short stories. I don’t write to become wealthy (not that I would turn it down, mind you…), I write because I need to. The story is inside and it needs to be put on paper – well, electronic paper, anyway. If someone chooses my work from among the thousand of works out there, then I too count that as a victory! Celebrate the little successes – life’s far too short to worry about the other stuff.

    All the best!

    (a.k.a. Alderdrache on twitter)

  3. I write because creating a character, a scene, a whole world brings me such joy and satisfaction. It would be nice to have a novel published but it is certainly not my prime motivation – I love the work, learning a skill which has no boundaries. Nothing is impossible for the imagination. With the members of my writers circle I have found encouragement, support and companionship so even though I submit work to publishing houses having this group value my work is enough for me.

  4. Ellie says:

    I’ve thought a lot about this recently, about my motivation to be published and what kind of audience I want-Indie or traditional. You had a lot of great thoughts on it, Al. Thanks for sharing!

  5. junyingkirk says:

    Al, you speak my mind :-). Your post is full of insights and you’re spot on on what motivates us as writers, and in fact, it applies to many other pursuits we have in life in general. Our motivation often determines what we do and how successful or happy we are.

    I’m very impressed with your passion in writing and I can tell from reading your book. I like your style of developing rapport and friendship with your readers and fellow authors. You have a long term view hence a wise approach to promotion. Personally I find it difficult to understand people who are too aggresive and on-your-face all the time, which not only stressed themselves out in the process, but also putting people off, which has the adverse effect.

    Anyway, your post got me into thinking a lot, of what I am finding out in recent weeks and I shall write my proper first blog, as a more detailed response to this post of yours. Will keep you posted.

    Thanks a lot for sharing, and always a pleasure to read yours, Al. Keep up with the excellent work!

    • Al Boudreau says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Junying. I’m so glad you got so much out of the post, and I’m very excited to read your premier blog post when it’s completed.

  6. Monica McRann says:

    Isabel Allende, NY Times bestselling author, “Paula, a Memoir”, was at a writer’s conference I attended. I was very eager to meet this wonderful writer. Later after her talk, I proceeded to the authors table her book clutched in my hand, when I finally reached her, before she could even say a word, I blurted out passionately, “Hi, I’m Monica, an aspiring writer.” She looked up looked into my eyes and said “That’s wonderful, Monica, my only advice to you is–don’t quit your day job!”
    So, unless you are independently wealthy, which I too, am not, her advice is spot on.
    To your points, about writing basically because of your passion compels you, or for strictly making money (Steve), I am with you on the former.
    I knew a writer, who I will call M, who was the same way, you only heard from her when she was having a book signing party, wanting you to buy her book. That’s fine if, we had an ongoing interaction, a friendship outside the confines of hawking a book. Needless to say, after the second book, (I attended,but did not buy her book) I no longer went. She hasn’t contacted me since. The point, it was all about the money for her. Sad really, because she was a prolific writer, like Steve, I imagine.
    I write because I “must”, it is part of who I am. Would I love to make my living from it, well, if this was Eden, a resounding, yes! Unfortunately, I’m just east of Eden, oops, sorry for the pun—but you get the point. When I complete first my anthology of short stories, or my novel, it will be my gift to myself, to have my voice heard. As for the money, that would be the whipped cream on the top of a butterscotch ice cream Sunday, with or without it, the sweetness remains.
    Great post, as usual, Al.

    • Al Boudreau says:

      Thank you kindly, Monica. We obviously see eye to eye on the reasons we write. Thank you for sharing with us, your encounters with other authors. I think one thing we can all agree on here, is that it takes all kinds to make a world. As always, I truly appreciate your input.

  7. Pingback: An New Author’s Reflection and Dilemma: Social Media in Promoting Books « junyingkirk

  8. junyingkirk says:

    Hi, Al.

    As I indicated to you before, I have now written my blog in response to yours and you can see the link above. Do take a peek but promise not to beat me with a stick – I am not good at editing my views and I do speak my mind.

  9. L.M. Stull says:

    What an EXCELLENT post! It is all about passion for me. Sure, I would LOVE for writing/books to be my full-time job one day and maybe if I’m really, really lucky and work really, really hard it will be (I’m trying!). BUT, in the meantime, I will use every waking hour that I have to saturate myself with the writing community. I too want to make money, but above all, I want to meet other writers and readers, talk shop and learn what makes us all tick as people, as friends.

    I truly believe that when you do something because of your undeniable love of the subject you will succeed. Of course, a lot of us, as you point out, have different measures of success. If I sell ONE book and that ONE reader loves it – I’ve succeeded. I did what I wanted to do. I have met far too many writers who want millions and millions of sales and zillions of dollars. Me? I want to see someone reach the last page of my book and smile. That’s payment enough for me. And if I get more than that, well that is just icing on the cake.

    I love posts like this. Great job Al. And on one last closing note ~ thanks for being an awesome writer and a great friend.

    • Al Boudreau says:

      Thank you, LM. As always, I’m so grateful for your thoughtful response to this week’s post. I love what you said about one reader’s smile being payment for your hard work. Making a living from our writing is the dream. However, doing what we love to do, here and now, is worth every ounce of effort we put in.

  10. Everett Powers says:

    While some writers take off like a rocket (John Locke), most do not. Success usually takes time. Hopefully not more than a year or two, though. 🙂

  11. Eden Baylee says:

    Great post Al.

    Motivation is certainly a strange animal. Chasing a dollar figure to attain a goal will, forever be, elusive. After all, it’s a number we arbitrarily set as our standard of success. More to the point, it’s usually someone else’s standard. In running to reach that target, I’m afraid your friend Steve is missing the sounds, smells, and sights of the wonderful journey he’s on. My heart broke a bit in reading about him. I hope he gets a hug from someone soon.

    You, on the other hand, have your head screwed on perfectly straight. It’s no wonder you see the world with such bright eyes. It’s a true gift to learn the lessons you have written about here.

    Thanks so much for sharing,


    • Al Boudreau says:

      Thank you so much, Eden. I’m surprised, on a daily basis, how many people do seem to realize that the journey is more important than the end result. Those who don’t “get it” tend to rush head-long toward goals while wearing blinders, only to find the “success” they thought would fill them up is quite empty, and their lives have passed them by. I sincerely hope that more people discover that certain experiences along the way are worth far more than financial gain. And let’s not forget…it’s certainly possible to have both if you play your cards right.

  12. Judi Coltman says:

    I write because I love words. I write because it hones my vocabulary. I write because I love to draw pictures with those vivd words that convey feelings, actions and motivations. I write because I read.

    My husband thinks I write so we can put in a pool, but I love him anyway.

    • Al Boudreau says:

      I loved the pool comment, Judi. Thanks for the chuckle. The bottom line…those who can write, should write. And if financial gain comes our way as a result, all the better. I love all of the reasons you write. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  13. I write because I love it, but I’m publishing to make money. It’s a good thing to be able to make money doing what you love.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with approaching publishing as a business and not as a hobby, which is how some do (I’m not saying you do this) who declare themselves ‘artists’ rather than being out for commercial gain.

    Sounds like your friend is treating publishing like a business. That’s a good thing. It also sounds like he’s giving himself an ulcer. That’s not. =)

  14. Al Boudreau says:

    Hi India. Thank you so much for your perspective on this week’s subject matter. I agree with you whole-heartedly—making money doing what you love is a great thing. I believe that if you love your career enough, what ever it might be, chances are you will eventually make a good living pursuing it. However, if you go after something and your sole objective is to make money, life has a funny way of making things difficult.

  15. Great post Al. You said exactly what I’ve been thinking for a while. If you are writing to make lots of money you are terribly misguided because most likely that is going to happen. I live to write not write to live as the saying goes.

    • Al Boudreau says:

      Thank you, Haley. I would imagine that those who write only for monetary gain must become fairly disillusioned after a while, whereas those of us whose write to follow our passion can enjoy our dream job every single day.

  16. Pingback: A New Author’s Reflection and Dilemma: Social Media in Promoting Books | Junyingkirk

  17. Pingback: The Days When You Don’t Feel Like Writing | Jen's Pen Den

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