What is your motivation for writing?



As someone who is only just beginning to let the “real world” know about my writing endeavors, I’m asked several questions by my nearest and dearest. Among the most frequently asked questions are:

So, like, you’re trying to write the next 50 Shades, right?

Um, no. Not that there is anything wrong with anyone trying to do that, but that’s not me.

Why don’t you have an agent?

Because I’ve never sought one. Maybe I would land one, maybe I wouldn’t. But, believe it or not, being an Indie Author doesn’t equate to someone who couldn’t pass a gatekeeper. For better or worse, I like having creative control over my creative endeavors.

But—okay, but if you’re not getting mega bucks for it, what on earth motivates you to do it?

And there’s the question I like most. Let’s talk about that.

Motivation Is Vital

Before I talk about what motivates me to write, let’s talk a little about the general importance of motivation in writing. There has to be a lot of it before a reader and an author find one another.

The author must be motivated to write.

The story must motivate the author to continue writing (and revising, and editing, etc.)

The author must be motivated by the finished story to sell the story.

The reader must be motivated by the author to purchase the story.

The reader must be motivated by the story to read the story.

The reader must have enough leftover motivation to review the story.

Really, if any part of the process isn’t graced with some sort of passion, then the wheels fall off. Now, that’s not to say that on day 45 of writing the story, the author isn’t going to wake up and find he or she would rather volunteer themselves for a root canal than to finish writing chapter twenty-three.

Or that the reader isn’t going to find one chapter is a little slower than others.

But, hey, that’s just life.

The Click

So, sometimes we want to do the thing but we don’t because we’ve convinced ourselves we aren’t worthy of the thing, or we aren’t worthy of the resources, or we’re absolutely positive no one will appreciate it anyway, and so we just…don’t. Sometimes, maybe all too often, people live their entire lives never doing the thing they wanted to do.

Some people weren’t born with this negative gene, and they just go for it, giving the thing all the attention and nurturing it deserves.

Well, that wasn’t me.

I have always flirted with the notion of writing, but I had more excuses floating around in my head than any one person could believe. Two things came together at an interesting time in my life that made me sit up and take notice of what I wasn’t doing.

1.| My father, who has been in poor-health since I can remember, had fallen down an entire flight of stairs, and was in the hospital with bleeding on his brain.

2.| I heard a motivational speech that said: “One day, it will be over. There will be two dates, either side of a dash. Make sure that dash is not empty. Make sure it is full of life, full of living.” (Fearless Motivation – One Day It Will Be Over.)

Now, those are powerful words on their own. But for someone who had been sitting in a hospital for close to two weeks, watching her father teeter somewhere between here and there…those words didn’t just strike a chord, they pelted me like well-aimed arrows.

I know my father had dreams he put off until it was too late. (He’s still with us, by the way, but atop his prior ailments, now he has scarring on his brain which causes frequent seizures.) I know my mother had dreams that she put off, too.

I didn’t want to get to the other end of my life and realize I’d been my own biggest hurdle.

That was my a-ha moment. That event and that quote was my click. My wake-up call to finally just do the damn thing. I was approaching thirty (ah, the good ol’ days) and I had done very little I’d wanted to accomplish before the milestone age. So, I bit the bullet and I’m still gnawing on it.

Have you had your click? If you don’t mind sharing, I’d love to hear.

Motivation to Write

What keeps me returning to the keyboard every day? The sheer excitement I feel as I am creating entire lives that never existed, places that have never seen the light of day, and shaping them into something someone else can see in their mind as they read my words.

It sure isn’t the fame. (I’m not so certain I would be a swell famous person, anyway.)

It sure isn’t to keep the pool heated—though we’re all lying if we said we wouldn’t love a giant payday from our writing endeavors.

For me, it genuinely has everything to do with crafting fictitious lives and places and hearing anyone, even if it’s just my husband, say that I’ve written something nice.

I’ve written plenty that didn’t set my writing soul on fire. Plenty of things I thought that if I could just slog through it long enough, I’d find the motivation to go back and turn it into something better…and every single one of those projects has been scrapped.

If I didn’t enjoy writing it, you sure as hell won’t enjoy reading it.

What motivates you to write? If you’re not a writer, what motivates you to do the thing you do?

Motivation to Read

Let’s flip the switch a moment. As a reader, I try to find the writer’s excitement in their words. That intangible thing that just lets me know I’m going to enjoy turning pages until I get to the end because the author had to write this story. I’ve picked up many—MANY—books, both indie and traditionally published, where this vital thing was missing.

Now, maybe it was there in the beginning and was lost somehow in the multiple rounds of revision or from over-editing. (That’s more common, methinks, in the traditional world…and it’s sad when I run across it.) Maybe the publisher forced their contracted writer to write a sequel that wasn’t meant to happen, or to change the setting of their story to something more align with what should make them money. You know, let’s just take the heartbeat out of this thing for the sake of a quick cha-ching.

But when I find a book or an author who writes with as much passion and gusto as I [hope] I do, then by golly those books are mine and I will read them and love them and immerse myself in their fictional worlds and befriend, fall in love with, and root for their fictional people.

What do you look for as a reader?


I admit, that even with the most fiery passion for a story, some days we just wake up and we do not want to write. I have those days. Hell, Alabama Rain is a story I am crazy passionate about, but there were days I just didn’t want to word. 

Maybe you’re a better writer than me in that you can shuffle through those days and still write something you’re proud of the next day—that’s not me. I wrote an entire chapter of Alabama Rain during one of my unmotivated days. When I came back to it the next day, motivated like crazy to keep going, I reread what I’d written and was…underwhelmed. I tinkered with it a little while, trying to polish up my word-turd, but it didn’t work. It didn’t need revision. It needed to be burnt. So, I did. I scrapped it and rewrote it. (It was chapter Twenty-Seven, if anyone wants to know.)

I know, for me, writing on those days isn’t the most productive way I can spend my time. I can do research for an upcoming scene. I can work on my cover, my back copy, my stupid-I-hate-writing-them-but-they’re-essential author bio, I can make a promo graphic, research promotional opportunities…but if I am not feeling the words…then I probably shouldn’t be writing them.

The good news is that for the story you cannot not tell, then those unmotivated days are likely going to be few and far between. The bigger problem is likely going to be finding the time to write. [And let me clarify, a lot of the time our motivational problems don’t stem from our actual story, but from outside influences like work, family problems, financial problems, a sink full of dishes that just never seems to stay empty for long.]

Now, if you follow my blog, you know I have a new book coming out—one I was ridiculously motivated by: Alabama Rain.

Now, this book will be available in paperback, hardback, iBooks, Nook, and Kobo (I think, anyway) but if you’re a Kindle reader, I have good news!


Click the pretty picture. 🙂

If you’re interested in any of the other formats, first, bless you, second, follow me on Twitter, and be sure to keep coming back to my blog, where I will post updates as well.

In the meantime, I’m already gearing up for my next novel (perhaps novels if I’m feeling froggy enough to attempt two stories at once. We’ll see.)

Tell me what you’re up to. What motivates you to do the thing you do, write the story you’re writing, climb the mountain, cook the meal, etc. etc? How do you handle those days where the only motivation you feel is to watch TV?

Here’s a good one for you: What’s your favorite motivational saying/picture/graphic?

Let’s hear it!




4 thoughts on “What is your motivation for writing?

  1. Jewel says:

    I’ve always been a storyteller. I am one of those obnoxious people who’s been at my thing since “she could hold a pen.” (See also, “since she was allowed to touch a keyboard and take up precious 8″ disk space.” Oh GOD the delicious sound of the click to lock one of those floppy floppies in there.)

    My motivation is so intrinsic to my very being that I don’t even know if I could dig deeply enough to find it. I just HAVE to do this thing. Even when I’m not actively doing this thing or researching for this thing, I’m thinking about the thing in some capacity. The setting of the thing. The future of the thing. The people who live in the thing. The ones who must die for the thing. And what I will do once the thing is actually done.

    My biggest hurdle was–and continues to be–finding people who want to listen to (or read) what I have to say. Fame and recognition would be nice but in the end, if I’m not doing the thing for myself, it’s not worth doing at all.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Aila Stephens says:

      Oh, I remember that clicky sound. It was nice! I also remember having to turn in school projects that were so large they had to be on multiple floppy disks, and I was so afraid they’d get separated I used about ten rubber bands to affix them.

      I am so glad you have been at your thing for as long as you have—and believe me, it shows in your writing!

      Finding people who want to read the words is a struggle, but I still (and always will) believe that *when* (NOT if) you find your audience, they will treasure your cast of characters and your well-thought plots just as much as I do. ♥


  2. The Library Key says:

    I write with an absolute love of stringing together sentences that will ultimately tell a story.
    I love hearing words, reading words, even coming up with words: creativity is a magical gift that, even on my not-writing days, I’m still enthralled by. I also plan my stories, but I just don’t know what I’m going to come up with in the end–those aha moments never get old. Writing is overwhelming sometimes, because there are so many ways in which to write something, and you want to put THE RIGHT one down, but the possibilities just waiting to be grabbed like a golden carousel ring make it all worthwhile.

    Liked by 1 person

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