And yours, too!
Psychologists say there are two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsically motivated people do it for the satisfaction; extrinsically motivated people do it for the reward. Both approaches work, but the best writers are intrinsic self-starters.
Approximately 10% of writers make their living at it. The other 90% may make a few bucks – some may even find it to be a very good part-time job – but they have to write for the love of it. Even super rich writers – you know, J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, James Patterson, et al – got into it first and foremost for love of the written word. King kept writing when no one was publishing him and Rowling pecked away day after day in a coffee shop while her kids were at school. Their eventual success was beyond their wildest dreams, but still they kept writing
In other words, they were intrinsically motivated. And now that they’re rich, they keep writing. They write for the reason we’re supposed to – they have no other choice. They have stories to tell.
Staying Motivated to Write
Being motivated for all the right reasons doesn’t mean you don’t need a push now and then. Here are some tips to keep you going.
Being intrinsically motivated to write doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever think about the money. That first book sale will probably make you want to write even more. But writing can’t just be a choice – it has to be a passion. It has to be one of those things where you can’t see yourself doing anything else. Otherwise, it’s just a job – and if you’re like 90% of writers, you already have one of those. Make writing your passion, and you’ll find you have a hundred stories to tell. Your problem won’t be wasting time when you should be writing, it will be finding the time to write everything you have to say.
P.S. I also find it helps to write about something you’re passionate about, whether it’s a Cold War spy thriller, Victorian romance, or vampires vs. zombies. If you love it, you’ll want to write it, and your readers will feel your enthusiasm. I love history and humor, and those themes comes through in a lot of my work. It’s why I write biographies, funny books, and sometimes funny biographies. Enjoy your work. I do!