Ok, Time To Stop The Debate On Writing Motivation
Why you shouldn’t care about why other people write
For some reason the choice to write for passion or for financial reward seems to be the most polarising debate in town. Frankly, its a divisive argument that does nothing to further the profession or the individual. Maybe its time we stopped debating the “right” reason for writing, and just got on with enjoying each others writing.
For love or money
Some writers will proclaim they are true artists, that writing is their calling, that money is of no concern and that those “prolific” writers who write specifically to get paid are evil sell outs, destined to wander the eternal shadows of purgatory while the pure blood live the good life in literary heaven.
Others will tell you that writing for passion, for the sheer joy of it is a fruitless task and that a failure to embrace the commercial side of writing is nothing short of an ignorant dismissal of a lucrative career.
Like anything I think we can all agree the extremes of these views are pretty wide of the mark, and that most writers don’t fall into either of these two warring factions. Instead most writers are level headed, warming and encouraging writers that want nothing more than to embrace the shared growth of the community.
For some reason though, the debate still rages, articles are still written, Facebook comments are still left in groups and ultimately people are still left upset.
Why are we so obsessed about the writing motivations of others?
We are obsessed because we either thing we really believe we are on the right path and others are not, or we are really afraid that we’re on the wrong path and others aren’t.
Here on Medium we see a raft of articles such as:
Is it ok to write for money?
Why I don’t write for money
Why I write simply for the love of writing
Yes there articles offer an interesting insight into the motivations of others (often more “successful” than ourselves), and yes they allow the author to earn a few benjamins by writing them, but without wanting to sound like a bore, it seems that all the debate does is piss people off, and what’s the point in that?
You see it on Facebook all the time — at some point in an otherwise peaceful discussion someone wades in with a passive aggressive comment along the lines of…
“I get that people want to earn money from their writing, but I just can’t stand to be one of those prolific writers that churns content for the sake of it”
“You do what you want, but I’m here to earn money and get paid for my work”
(by the way — I’ll admit in the past I’ve been guilty of the last one)
The truth is — who gives a sh*t? A lot of people it turns out. Perhaps then, the question should be why do we give a sh*t?
We give a sh*t because we are basically trying to validate ourselves, to either seek clarification that our path is worthy, that the thing that motivates us personally is acceptable and viable in our such for writing success — whatever that even is.
We also sometimes probably feel threatened by other approaches, especially when we see people, and I hate to use the phrase again, “more successful” than us achieving things we want to achieve through an approach we’ve chosen not to use.
I don’t care what you think, and neither should you
The long and short of it is that we just care too damn much about what other people think.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been guilty of it many times. I’ve written articles about “why I write about XYZ”, I’ve soul searched to find out if what I’m pursuing is right, I didn’t find any answers by the way, just an understanding that it feels right for me which I guess will have to do.
Writing is an amazing hobby, career, side hustle, startup or whatever you choose to see it as. It’s our little baby, and we shouldn’t hold it up to the firing line of other peoples opinions so much.
We should just get on with what we are doing, share it of course, champion it without doubt, but don’t join a debate about where your or anyone else's motivations sit in the pecking order of literary honor.
Riot in the comments section
At the end of the day, aside from the potential to draw you into a Facebook meme fight, I think the whole argument is just a distraction, a distraction that doesn’t just waste energy, but can also seriously affect how people feel — and that’s not very chill is it.
By the way, I’m not trying to be some scrooge that doesn’t enjoy hearing about the journey of others, I’ve just noticed since becoming a writer that this one debate seems to rear its head all the time.
If you want to write simply because you enjoy it, that’s awesome. If you want to mimic James Patterson’s incredible work ethic and bang out hit after hit for nothing other than money — that’s awesome too, so maybe we should all just care a little less about what drives others to be writers.
In the words of Rodney King
“Can’t we all just get along”
I dont care, do your own thing
youshouldn’t care, do your own thing
feel what you want, but keep it to yourself