Last week, while blogging about what we as writers can offer, I said,
“I overcame (my doubts), and now write because of my love for writing, to the exclusion of all else.”
I think this could use more clarification. In that sentence are two separate thoughts. Yes, I used to feel like I had nothing to offer the world in my writing, and I overcame that doubt However, the second half of the sentence is a new and different motivation. Even if I had nothing to offer the world, it wouldn’t matter. I write because I love it. I write for me.
To explain, let me tell a story.
Years ago, when I was a sprightly young lad, I made some videos with a friend of mine, which we then posted to Youtube. By all accounts (except for perhaps ours), they are not good videos. As we created the skits, they all formed a single story, which was incidentally about the misadventures of a bunch of clone-happy, masochistic, murderous, reality-breaking, physics-warping teenagers stuck in a timeless void at Grandmother’s house. None of that was the focus, but in combining the videos, that is what we got. It was a mess.
Later, we began making parodies of animated shows, enjoying the acting and creativity that went along with that. Our first attempts were terrible, again, by modern standards. We still kept at it, and incidentally, are still keeping at it. We acknowledge that some of our work is not liked, and we even did so at the time. We never (at this point) have achieved followings that were worth the time and effort. No screaming fans or internet glory. Why did we do all of this?
We did it for us. That was the only reason.
When setting out to create something, I (and my friend, if he is involved) form a plan that involves the things I love and enjoy. It can be as stupid, silly, and borderline-nonsensical as I want it to be. When I finish, it is possible that I am the only one that will watch/read/play/enjoy it. It does not matter. I am making this thing because I want to, for my own enjoyment, and if people don’t like it, that’s fine.
Let’s bring this back to writing. There is a good and bad side to this type motivation, though I consider it well-worth having. The good news is that no matter how many people dislike my work, or never read it to begin with, I still like it. I enjoy it. It was worth it, and I don’t need the support of anyone to help me finish. The bad news is that, if I’m not careful, this can cause me to ignore criticism. Assuming that I also would like to share my work with others, that’s no good. My love for what I do motivates me, but I still want to share what I love with others, and that requires listening and learning.
In short, this is a sappy motivation talk. If you like doing something, and you have ideas that others would scoff at, do them anyways. Let your passion for the work and the art itself push you on, not the fickle praise of others. Enjoy the fruits of your labor as you go. Then, if you really want to have your work enjoyed by others, allow people that know what they are doing to teach you and shape your product. Just don’t let them discourage you. After all, you’re doing them a favor in working to share this. You made it for you.
See you around!