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Writing for the Wrong Reasons

Updated on March 10, 2015


Writers are told to write about anything, anytime, as much as possible. This is great advice…to a point. What happens, though, when a writer’s intentions become skewed? Certain motivations and situations can lead them down the wrong path and actually inhibit their writing. Below are five scenarios that writers should try to avoid.

This won't happen.
This won't happen. | Source

Writing for Money

All writers would like to be compensated for their work. I admit that my ultimate goal is to be able to support myself primarily through writing. It’s a very respected and encouraged goal for all writers to have, even those who are initially just journaling or blogging for fun. You never know when that could lead to a nonfiction or book deal. However, when money becomes the primary motivation for writing, it can lead to a rushed product that is poor in quality and not worthy of whatever monetary value it brings, no matter how small.

When I first started writing professionally, I joined a few blogging sites in order to try to earn some money during the summer in between semesters in college. I’ve had my eye on a writing career ever since I was five years old. However, this summer, I really wanted to see some return for the words that I typically just scribbled into my notebook and showed to a few friends and relatives. I thought that writing news blogs could really help to satisfy this need to earn some cash. Instead, I should have used the time to develop my professional writing skills and produce quality work that I could be proud of.

The first site I joined was The Blogger News network, and I made about $100 in three months. I wrote one to three blogs a day and even signed up as a reviewer where I received free copies of books and movies to review. Considering these free copies as a form of payment, I took my time and really tried to make these pieces the best that they could be. However, the daily news blogs that I wrote were written fast and efficiently, and there wasn’t much to them. I would scan the trending news stories of the day, look for a topic that vaguely interested me, and pounded away my own version of the story. Then, I would find a quick picture, slap it at the top of the blog, and hit the publish button. The stories were short and didn’t say much more than the original content that I had borrowed from. I can honestly say that I never plagiarized or simply pasted another person’s work under my own name. Despite this, I’m not proud of many of those pieces. I did it solely for the idea that I would get a PayPal deposit at the end of the month.

Not having learned my lesson, the second blog I joined, Suite 101, was more of the same. This site paid their writers based on how well the site did each month. They also had a small, 300 word minimum blog, and I chose topics that were so limited in their content that I would struggle to hit the 300 word mark, something I have never encountered in my HubPages articles. The few people who commented on my pieces would accuse me of being too factual and boring in my writing, spouting fact after fact like a school report, and they were right. I was just looking to publish as many articles as I could before school began. When I realized that I could not meet the minimum 10 article quota once school started up again, I sent in my resignation, and I was not sad to see that job go. I learned nothing writing-wise from these two blogging experiences besides to never let money fuel your desire to write.

Be positive. Just not as positive as Ed Wood.
Be positive. Just not as positive as Ed Wood. | Source

Writing for Fame

I cannot personally speak for this motivation. I am not famous. I will probably never be famous, and that suits me fine. Maybe writers looking for fame are confusing celebrity for admiration. I’m sure that Stephen King loves to be told how much his books mean to his fans, but I doubt he appreciates the occasional stalker who lurks out his bedroom window.

Writers should not be attention hogs. We create characters for that. We work behind the scenes as an omniscient presence in the worlds that we create. There are plenty of other professions that will allow the attention seekers to take center stage. Very few authors are recognized by their face, or sometimes even their names. This will be a frustrating distraction to anyone who is looking to become well known. Make sure it’s your words that you want in the spotlight, not yourself.

This is what happens.
This is what happens. | Source

Writing Because You Think You Have To

I spent many years writing everyday because I thought that’s what I had to do. I was so afraid to stop because I worried that I might not start again or that I would waste my time with less productive products, like scanning through the TV or YouTube channels.

I wrote when I was sick. I wrote on holidays. I would feel like a failure if I didn’t produce content that was large enough or of a satisfying quality. I wanted every minute of my writing time to count, and guess what? It burned me out.

Now, when I need a break, I take a day off. Most of the time, if I say, “I’m not going to write today,” I end up writing something anyway, and that bonus writing is often something usable because it isn’t forced work. It clears your mind and allows you to write whatever you want, as much as you want, and it’s enough. I also have found that if I’m not writing, I’m doing something else that I like to do, like drawing or spending time with friends and family, giving me time to think and letting real life lead to inspiration. Leave the deadlines and stress for when you actually have some professional work to submit.

What are they so mad at?
What are they so mad at? | Source

Writing to Be Negative and Spiteful

It’s sad the amount of nasty comments that you see online nowadays. The price of the Internet’s open forum format is that people can typically say whatever they want, and when they are not standing face to face with their victim, they tend to unleash in the boldest and meanest ways possible. If your writing time is comprised of mainly putting down, correcting, and insulting others, that may not be the best use of your time. Disagreements will happen, and personal ideologies will be tested, but the spiteful, profanity-laced comments and responses that you can encounter while trying to read something entertaining or thought provoking can become tiresome and does little to impress or persuade.

No, Brian. Make them write their own papers.
No, Brian. Make them write their own papers. | Source

Writing for Someone Else

If you’re the known writer in your social circle or family, chances are, you’ve been asked to comprise a piece for someone else, whether it be writing a research paper for a class, jotting down something meaningful in a birthday card, or composing a persuasive piece for something with which you have no connection. I am guilty of writing all of the above for other people.

It can be a soul sucking and thankless task, and unless you’re aiding in a recommendation and putting your name on the work, you probably shouldn’t do it. You’re limited to writing in a disguised voice, tailoring the piece to make it fit the tone and talents of the person you are helping, and basically fooling your intended reader(s). You should be no closer to the piece than peering over the shoulder of the person you are assisting, helping to piece words together, offering correct word spellings, and utilizing your knowledge of language and writing mechanics. The ideas, handwriting (if applicable), and basic structure, however, should belong to that other person. There’s nothing wrong with helping someone out, but doing the whole thing and then passing it off as someone else’s is just not helpful to you or to anyone else.

When have you written something for the wrong reason? Share your stories in the comments below!


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    • Kara Skinner profile image

      Kara Skinner 8 months ago from Maine

      I definitely agree about the trolls and trying to make every writing second count. I do write everyday, but sometimes I let myself write more fun projects, like fictional stories or fanfic.

      I do write for money, however. I write paid articles on Textbroker and Blogmutt. I used to hate it and ended up writing a lot of articles I didn't like. But now I've found it actually helps me. I know how to research things effectively and I've been working on trying to make boring topics sound interesting. Also, writing paid articles allows me to discover new things and learn about things that are interesting to me. I learned about new marketing methods, effective fitness workouts, coffee and tea recipes, and what makes a great infrared sauna all in the name of research for paid articles.

      I certainly don't know if writing for fame is good or bad, but I don't think writing for the sake of getting famous could actually produce good writing skills or fame.

    • Laura335 profile image

      Laura Smith 3 years ago from Pittsburgh, PA

      It's interesting that we are all producing different kinds of writing for different reasons, but our ultimate goal is to not lose the desire to write. Thanks for the comments!

    • Hezekiah profile image

      Hezekiah 3 years ago from Japan

      Nice Hub. You need to be writing for the love, not money nor fame.

    • John Albu profile image

      John Albu 3 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico, 87102

      Very enjoyable read, thank you Laura! Some parts felt like a deja vu for me, especially the "because you think you have to" part.

      To be a consistent writer is important and it helps not to lose your grip and to keep improving, but it's really important to find a balance between dedicating enough time to it and getting totally burned out.

    • kristinekaren profile image

      kristinekaren 3 years ago from Philippines

      Hi! Such an inspiration.Thank you for this.I'm actually new here in hub pages and yours is just very helpful

    • Randy Horizon profile image

      Randy Hirneisen 3 years ago from Philadelphia

      Wonderful hub. I agree the best reason to write is because you love it and it's a form of therapeutic expression. Thanks for the great hub.

    • profile image

      Stargrrl 3 years ago

      I agree with your reasons. Good points made!

    • Jennifer-Louise-W profile image

      Jennifer-Louise 3 years ago from Nottingham

      Great hub!

    • Hannah David Cini profile image

      Hannah David Cini 3 years ago from Nottingham

      When I first read the title of your hun I thought 'there can't be any wrong reasons to write' but after reading I think I agree with you. Although I do believe it's good to make a habit out of practising regularly I agree that you can waste your passion and end up losing it. An interesting hub.

    • profile image

      Chuck Colorado 3 years ago

      I think writing for money can be great, but I agree you shouldn't rush your product. I am hoping to push out one hub a month and not rush

    • Chriswillman90 profile image

      Krzysztof Willman 3 years ago from Parlin, New Jersey

      I concur with every one of your points. No one should write because they feel forced to, and no one should be writing because they think it is easy money. Writing is tough, it's draining, and not everyone is capable of it. Well done.

    • profile image

      Jill Moore 3 years ago

      This is a very timely piece for me - I am just exploring the possibility of writing for a living and I will admit that part of my motivation is to help support my family. That said there are easier ways - I could be applying for "traditional" jobs. I'm trying to write because it's what I love to do. Thank you.

    • melissae1963 profile image

      Melissa Reese Etheridge 3 years ago from Tennessee, United States

      This is an excellent Hub about writing...or not. Your ideas are spot on. Thank you for sharing. I'm looking forward to sharing with my writing group.

    • Josh Ruga profile image

      Joshua Ruga 3 years ago from New Jersey

      I found this hub both useful and interesting. Excellent points all throughout!

    • Laura335 profile image

      Laura Smith 3 years ago from Pittsburgh, PA

      Thanks for the comments everyone! I love hearing your stories about writing. Keep them coming!

    • Tamirogers profile image

      Tami Rogers 3 years ago from Seattle, Washington

      REALLY liked this hub Laura. I have been back and forth with my writing for years feeling lost and not knowing where to land. I started out years ago in the advertising world--and now that my girls are in college--I do NOT want to go back to selling stuff even if it pays well.

      I have found a home here at HubPages. I feel blessed. People are telling me I've made a difference in their lives by writing my truths in my own voice. I actually got a blogging job this week for a company based on what I've written here..they are paying me (I'll never be rich but it's money!) to write about something I think is important--information that people can use it does matter when you write for something you believe in! Thanks! Voting up !

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      I agree with your insights and enjoyed your hub. As an undergrad, I took an honors workshop in Women's Studies and wrote a term paper that the professor wanted me to change signficantly in order to bring it up from an A- to an A. It was not my writing style but several key arguments that she disagreed with. On principle, I decided that making all the changes she suggested (and hoping for an A) would be writing for the wrong reasons. I accepted the lower grade.

    • profile image

      Miran Shuleta 3 years ago

      I thoroughly enjoyed this Hub, very accurate and insightful.

      Great Hub!

    • seraphic profile image

      Seraph 3 years ago from Canada

      I hear ya about the trolls. I read a blog that made me so angry I felt sick... it was a racists blog. I watched comments on the blog for a long time and it ate my soul as I tried to inform people who were not informed on the real issues. Then I realized what the blog was getting--traffic which is dollars and cents. I deleted it from my bookmarks and did not look at it again.

      Writing for me is about what I collect, interests, and mix it up with work-related things. Now I find myself picking over my posts here to refine them.

      Great post! Well thought-out and organized! Voted up!