Writers are an interesting breed of humanity – they can make us feel joy, sadness, anger, and empathy. Sometimes they can cause us to feel all these emotions simultaneously.
There are certainly more lucrative methods of gaining an income, yet every day thousands of individuals will sit down at their keyboard pounding out a story that may never actually be published.
There is creative energy required to create a meaningful story. It is hard to invest that energy into a story if there is a feeling the story has no chance of success, yet writers will do so.
What motivates a writer to spend their time and talents on something that may bear little fruit?
The answer is found in a quote from author Isaac Asimov, “I write for the same reason I breathe — because if I didn’t, I would die.”
For many writers, the reason stems from the fact they have a story in their mind that won’t leave them alone until the story is drained onto the written page only to be replaced by a new story that requires telling. The story might be for the author alone or it might be for a larger audience.
Many writers are not in the market to be famous, they simply agree with the sentiments of François Mauriac, “Each of us is like a desert, and a literary work is like a cry from the desert, or like a pigeon let loose with a message in its claws, or like a bottle thrown into the sea. The point is: to be heard — even if by one single person.”
When there is a drive to say something important it is also important to have some hope that your words were ‘heard’ by someone who was encouraged or challenged by those words.
Sometimes the joy found in writing is simply in reaching the end of your story. Famed Novelist Tom Clancy stressed “Success is a finished book, a stack of pages each of which is filled with words. If you reach that point, you have won a victory over yourself no less impressive than sailing single-handed around the world.”
Most writers do not begin writing with the hope of becoming incredibly wealthy. They begin because they often have no choice. Writers will rarely receive back even minimum wage for the overall body of work they produce, but it is a burden they carry gratefully and are willing to allow others to consume their work one tasty thought at a time.
For many writers, this is success enough.