Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, having jabbed out both eyes, stuffing pebbles into your ears, and listening to ’80s power ballads full blast, you’ve likely heard of J.K. Rowling.
Do you aspire to be like her?
Depending on how you answer that question says a lot about how serious you are about writing. This topic came to mind after stumbling on a study that says the most important thing to the current generation of kids is being famous. Not a famous author, actor, financial advisor, or even blogger. Just famous.
So back to my original question. Do you aspire to be like J.K. Rowling, or Suzanne Collins, or even Stephen King? If so, why? If not, why not? Let’s start with the if so.
People are complex. So are their answers. What you aspire to accomplish works as your drive. Let’s examine three attitudes or categories of writing drives.
I want to be like J.K. Rowling because:
- I want to be rich and famous like her.
- I want her type of success for my own novels.
- I want to tell a good story.
1. I want to be rich and famous like her.
Many people wouldn’t want to directly admit it, but few would mind having fame and fortune. As a writer, however, fame and fortune can’t be the main reason you’re writing. Even if you put out a good product initially, your drive’s foundation is weak. And weak foundations can crumble. Ask yourself honestly, is this your motivaion?
2. I want her type of success for my own novels.
This is a perfectly normal desire–to a point. This differs from #1 because you at least want to do something for your fame and fortune. You’re not doing it so people can admire you, but rather what you’ve created. It’s closer to a solid foundation, but still not good enough on its own. Would you give up writing if you never saw even 1/4 the success someone like J.K. Rowling has had? Do you have to have 8 movies and a billion dollar franchise for you to consider yourself successful? Search inside and see if you hold a #2 drive.
3. I want to tell a good story.
This is the best place to be, but not always truly possible. Realistically, most authors probably hover between #2 and #3. You’ve got rent to pay and food to buy after all!
In drive #3, your goal is to bring your audience the best possible story. And much like a magician, you want to let them become absorbed in the act, seeing the events unfold before them seamlessly. But how do you know if you have the third kind of drive?
Do you find yourself writing story after story because you enjoy the thrill of creation? Are you honing your writing skills and learning all you can about the craft? Do you study the works of your favorite authors to see how they weaved together their stories? Is writing your passion? Is telling a good story what matters most to you? If you can honestly answer yes to all of these questions, your drive’s foundation is built solidly.
You may have felt a moral lecture was coming and immediately ran to not wanting to be anything like J.K. Rowling. But I’ve really got to ask you: why wouldn’t you want to be like J.K. Rowling, Suzanne Collins, Stephen King, etc? Success beyond my wildest dreams? Yes, please!
There’s nothing wrong with gaining success. There’s especially nothing wrong with pulling in a million–even a billion from your story. You created a worthwhile product. You earned that money!
Your goal should be to put out a good product. Let your level of success be pride in knowing you do good work. If it makes you a millionaire, great! If it makes you just enough money to write another book, great! If it just makes you happy to create, fantastic!
Bringing something of value to the world is really what we all should be writing for.
So what are you writing for? Sound off in the comments below.