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Soul of a Writer
What motivates writers to do what we do?
I'm lucky I'm not a cat, because I'm very curious. You name it, I'm interested in it. I've had more hobbies than any ten people you've ever met, and I'm always coming up with new ones. The most interesting subject to me, though, is people. Why are we here? What is our place? Why do we do what we do, and does it all amount to anything in the end? What is our impact on the world around us? How do we become who we are? These are the types of questions I've always had running through my mind, and these are the questions that lead me to writing in the first place.
I think that all writers, and all artists of any kind, share that one interest in common. What is art, after all, but an exploration of the human condition? In order to become good at any artistic endeavor, we have to understand why we do it, and what we want from it as an end result.
I started off with a fairly common dream for a teenager: I wanted to be a famous musician. Over the years, I tried harder and harder to write music that would please the masses and hopefully make me rich and famous. Eventually one day I realized that it had been a long, long time since I'd actually enjoyed writing music. I'd lost my spark, my interest, my vitality. Everything that had once been great about the act of creating a song from thin air had been destroyed by my dishonesty.
I'd completely lost track of the reason I originally fell in love with music in the first place: The way it made me feel. As soon as I realized my mistake, I started writing music for myself. I wrote music that expressed my feelings, and didn't worry about what other people would think about my creations. Suddenly, everything that had been missing from the process clicked back into place and I was having a blast writing music again. What's more, I was proud of my new songs and no longer worried about it if someone else didn't like them. I had freed myself from the self-enslavement of greed.
This brings me to writing. I know I'll probably never be a famous musician, and I'm fine with that now. Making music is a hobby for me now, and a very rewarding and enjoyable one. But what about writing, the thing I'd fallen in love with from the moment I'd first learned to read? Well, no big surprise here--it's exactly the same as music. I think you have to write from a standpoint of what interests and motivates you and not in an attempt to make money.
As any professional writer will tell you, writing is not a dream job. The only way to truly enjoy being a writer is to explore the areas of life that you find interesting, and just hope that someone else cares enough to read it. When you write something out of unadulterated interest, and a desire to share that interest with others, there is a purity in what you do, and the result will always be something to be proud of. Not all of us are cut out to be the best of the best, otherwise the phrase would have no meaning. There is one thing we can all do though, and that is be true to ourselves.
We write to share a piece of ourselves, whether it be knowledge, experience, thoughts, fears, emotions, hopes, dreams, or problems. The reason many writers are plagued with indecision and fear of failure is that we tend to be very wary of putting oursevles out there and risk the possibility of being hurt.
Any true writer puts a piece of themselves into everything they write, and therefore every rejection of one's writing is tantamount to a rejection of who you are. That was always the sticking point for me when I was younger--I just didn't have thick enough skin to handle rejection. Now I've learned to use criticism and rejection as tools to motivate me towards success, and I think all successful writers have to learn to do the same. It's better to be rejected by someone than to do nothing, isn't it?
The bond between writer and reader is a simple one: They both want to feel connected. As the writer, it's your job to make the reader feel something, learn something, or see something from a new perspective. The easiest way to do that is to write, not necessarily about what you know, but to write about what interests you. Chances are good that if you keep writing about what interests you, there will be people out there that will share your interest and read what you've written.