Since I can’t decide if the Fourth of July holiday occurs on the 2nd or the 5th, I’m posting on the 1st, just to be sure (<–there’s logic in there somewhere).
The video is 10 minutes long – I’ve watched it twice! It’s worth the time, but here’s the upshot:
Studies show that people are not motivated by money.* For tasks requiring any level of cognitive effort, people are motivated by having autonomy in their lives, developing mastery over their work, and knowing the higher purpose that animates what they do.
This approach explains why people spend vast amounts of time doing tasks that have no monetary reward: learning a musical instrument, playing sports, building open source software, contributing to wikipedia. Hello, can you say BLOGGING?
*above a certain amount to get by on, and not for rudimentary tasks
But the truth of these words rang closest to why I write. I’ve talked before about the importance of knowing WHY you write. I write to touch (and change) young lives. I want the children and teens who read my books to walk away thinking, Huh. I never thought of that before. That higher purpose drives me to write dystopians with lessons about what it means to be human, love stories about making choices in our lives, and kids stories that bring science alive for young minds. I don’t write these stories because I think I will make money from them – I’m fairly certain that I will not, or at least not for a long time. I write them to have an effect on people’s lives (as well as entertain).
The video also helped me understand why I have a constant drive to improve my craft. Striving for mastery of the craft of writing is inherently rewarding – it is in the growth, the demonstrated improvement, that I (and people in general) find satisfaction.
And writing gives me a double gift in autonomy, both in the writing itself and as an occupation. I have always had a high need for directing my own work, and writing is the ultimate in self-directed employment (until you’re under contract – but that’s a different post). But the writing itself is an expression of autonomy: I am the master of my stories, able to decide everything from the main character’s quirks to the ultimate demise of the bad guy. I literally create my own world. And how cool is that?
It is no wonder to me why writers steal any snippet of time they can to write: it hits a trifecta of fulfillment.
Happy Birthday to the United States! This weekend I’ll be giving thanks for the many freedoms we take for granted in the U.S., including that treasured First Amendment.
Ink Spells will return after the holiday weekend.