Why is it important to know what’s your motive for writing?
There are at least 3 reasons:
1 – Direction of Writing Career.
Your motive for writing provides you with the direction, like a weathervane, of your writing career.
2 – Inspiration for your books.
This is where your motive can and often does influence or inspire your writing. Initially it would be the genre, such as historical fiction, but eventually it can inspire who and what you are writing about to a much greater degree.
3 – Duration of your career.
Here, motive plays a major role in helping you survive or be sustained when your writing career runs into buffeting winds of adversity or road bumps that threaten to derail you.
We will explore these and more on the other side of the break.
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Now back to the article.
Let’s break these motives down further.
Direction of Your Writing Career
This overlaps to some degree the Inspiration for your books. However, whatever your motive is, it will play a major role in choices you make early on. For example, your motive could be a desire to make a lot of money.
If I was rating motives, money would come in as the least effective, and virtually the weakest. It is not bad to want to make money; all of us do. But I contend that if making money is your only motive, you will have a hard time.
Why, you might ask.
Because money is not durable. You might fall out of favor with your leaders, or you might lose readership. Whatever the cause, you do suddenly twice as much work for less than you were paid to do.
On the other hand, desiring to make money can lead to writing for magazines, copy writing, and other financially beneficial jobs. These are all good results. In fact, you can earn a lot of money writing stories for magazines.
So, if your motive is to make a lot of money, go for it. But remember that if and when you hit a wall or the money ceases for a time, the motive of making money is on shaky ground. You will need another motive to sustain you.
Inspiration for Your Writing
Inspiration is the lifeblood of writing. Whether you are writing fiction or nonfiction you need inspiration. I write in multiple genres, and I have multiple motives. One is making money, but another is to write stories that entertain and point people to Christ.
For example, I have one series, The World That Was that includes novels about creation, our forefathers such as Adam, Enoch, Abraham, and others. This series is based on factual people, places, and events, but like any historical novel, it fills the gaps with enough fictional narrative to bring the facts alive. In this way, readers are transported back (or forward) to the events the book is based upon.
Inspiration can also lead you to write stories about children, thus children’s fiction. My books, for example, tend to explore adult themes. My goal is to write stories that demonstrate the depravity of man and the grace of God. This sometimes requires me being on a balancing beam between being too explicit and being too bland. That is one reason I like people to review my books because it gives me an inkling of how I am doing and if I need to edit or not.
In short, inspiration covers almost every aspect of writing. It is also helpful in helping me when roadblocks, etc. get in my way. Before I got saved when I asked Jesus into my heart, I would attempt to write a book. Sometimes I would get about five chapters in and suddenly hit a roadblock. And I couldn’t get around it.
But after I got saved this changed; albeit 30 years later. I got inspiration direct from God while reading about Noah and the Ark in Genesis chapter 6. I saw that while God told us enough to display the depravity of man and the grace of God, it was still mostly skeleton. I realized that as a writer I could clothe the skeleton in fiction and bring the characters and events alive!
In addition, the Holy Spirit gave me Psalm 71:18: ‘Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shown thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.”
He not only gave me a major boost in my writing, but He also gave me a motive: to show His strength unto this generation!
That is my number one motive for writing and it sustains me no matter what.
Duration of your career
At the beginning of this blog I said, motive plays a major role in helping you survive or be sustained when your writing career runs into buffeting winds of adversity or road bumps that threaten to derail you.
In previous blogs I have discussed a variety of motives, such as:
- Call of God
These are all excellent motives, but as a Christian the best is Call of God. At our physical birth we receive talents. It could be one or multiple talents. I believe I received the talent called imagination, which is crucial to fictional and, for that matter, nonfictional writing.
I don’t regard my writing skill as a talent. Rather, it is a result of hard work and study! But when I got saved, He gave me another gift which is the ability to tell a story that glorifies God.
Even so, it took another 30 years for the talent (my imagination) and the storytelling ability to unite. And that happened because God showed it to me as I described earlier. But all of that would not have taken place without my first getting saved and then allowing God to chip away the dead skin of sin in my life. He keeps purifying me and providing me insights into how we humans think and, more importantly, how He thinks.
I am not saying that you must have the same experiences I had. But if you are a Christian and you want to serve God through your writing, then we have something in common. More importantly, in Christ you have the most important motivation there can be. Nothing is more powerful than knowing that you are doing what He wants you to do.
Motives can change over time and thus it is always wise to reexamine your motives and how you are applying them. But God’s plan for your life while it may seem to change from your perspective, it remains unchanged. Your understanding of it can change, but God is fully aware of everything that you will experience and has already incorporated it into His plan for you. That is exciting!
In conclusion, being motivated is absolutely important. You can have multiple motivations, but I believe that one will dominate. Whichever one that is, it will influence how you write and whether to overcome obstacles or not. I encourage you to reexamine your motives. It might result in adding or subtracting, or reordering, but it will certainly result in you having a more balanced approach to your writing and the wherewithal to overcome the obstacles that will come.
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