1, 2, 3, What Are We Writing For?

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.

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:

  1. I want to be rich and famous like her.
  2. I want her type of success for my own novels.
  3. 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.

IF NOT

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.

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16 thoughts on “1, 2, 3, What Are We Writing For?

  1. There are stories in my brain. They tug and pull at the back of my eyes, even when I sleep. The characters are like ghosts wailing and hovering around my head, demanding to be heard. I must write to free my mind…

    As you can see, telling a story, the best story I can, is what matters most to me. I believe if we can do that, everything else will follow. Nobody picks a book up wanting a mediocre story, no, they want to be taken away for a few hours. They want to be immersed in your world, cheer for your characters, then look over at the clock and curse because they have to get up in four hours.

    Simply put, I aspire to be me. Wherever that road leads, I can’t wait to see. It would be fun to have a conversation with all three of the writers you mention. That would be interesting!

    • That’s exactly the way I feel about writing. Are you far along on your WIP? With that kind of passion I look forward to seeing the finished product!

      • I hired a freelance editor and just finished with those edits. It took me about a month. Next up, I’ll be querying, again. I’ve learned so much this past year, and am actually excited to begin the query process again. Thanks for asking. I hope all is well with your projects too.

        Great post by the way. We should be comfortable enough in our own skin to know why we write. The drawings are nice too!

        • You’re very kind. I love to scribble, what can I say? I had mine edited too. It is truly amazing how much you can learn from that. Keep me posted on how the querying goes, and let me know if you need encouragement. Sometimes that querying process can be brutal… What is The Key to Eden about if you don’t mind me asking?

  2. I honestly can’t say I’d actually want that level of fame. I think it would interfere with my life too much. However, the income wouldn’t hurt my feelings any. 🙂

    Mostly, I write because creating worlds and telling stories is what I love to do (and because the characters in my head would probably lynch me in the night if I didn’t). I would like to make enough off my writing to supplement the current income and thereby make it easier to keep writing.

    Good post.

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s characters demand constant attention. Sometimes they get downright pushy. I’m hoping you know what I mean. But it sounds like you have the right attitude about writing. How is your WIP coming along?

      • I’m doing a final edit on my current WIP. I have another one out to agents and editors that is getting very positive response, but I don’t talk about it much because I don’t want to jinx it. Thanks for asking. 🙂

        What are you working on?

        • Nice! I’ll knock on wood for you too. I recently had my YA fantasy professionally edited, and I’ve been spending the last several months prepping for the Backspace Writer’s Conference at the end of this month. I’m feeling confident about my preparation, whether or not it’s fruitful. But I’ll get professional feedback from agents and editors, and that makes it all worthwhile.

          Keep me posted on your book. Hopefully you get a green light to being published soon!

      • Have a great time at the conference. Going to a few conferences really helped me, especially in the realm of networking with agents, publishers and other great writers.

        • Thanks, I’m looking forward to it. I went to a smaller local one and found it immensely helpful in all the areas you mentioned. I’m eager to see what this big time one will bring, especially in terms of networking. I’ll definitely post notes.

  3. I don’t want too much fame, as a handsome man like me would always be mobbed by fans.
    I wouldnt mind some money. The sort that Scrooge Mcduck has, so I can have my own swimming pool of gold I can dive into.

    But other than that, I am a humble man with my feet on the ground.

  4. Answering questions about myself that require deep thought are not my strong suit. Why I like chocolate and dragons, easy. Why I write? Not so easy. I write because I love it, because I can’t NOT write the craziness in my mind. I write because I want to succeed in my passion. There are so many answers to that question. Very thought provoking post – thanks. 🙂

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