Empower

Today, I'm turning my blog over to Deborah Sutton from the U.K. who does the wonderful website Writers Unite (see link to the right) which offers all sorts of good, sound advice for up and coming writers.

A few years ago I interviewed a multi-published UK writer. I’m not going to mention her name here, but at the time she had published somewhere around 80 - 90 short stories in magazines all over the globe. Now that’s a lot of stories whichever way you look at it, never mind published stories. And that was back then – goodness knows what the tally is today.

During the course of the interview, we were talking about the closure of a well known British short story agency, and she mentioned the fact that several people had approached her to ask if she would take it over and keep it going.

Then she said something that I will never forget, and something that made me really think about my own writing desires and motivations.

She said: “The fact is I don’t want to empower people; I want to be empowered.”

Wow. It was just as though a light came on in my head.

You see, at the time I was considering doing teacher training in order to qualify myself to teach creating writing professionally. I’d already proved to myself that I could write (several pieces published), and I knew that I enjoyed helping other writers through my membership of various critique groups, but my motivation for wanting to go through the expense and time involved in getting professional teaching quals was very vague.

Sure I knew that in order to teach in colleges and universities a recognised teaching qualification was needed, but I also understood that, for me, there was something else lurking beneath the surface. I just couldn’t put my finger on it.

Until now. This writer suddenly, with one quick sentence, made me realise exactly what it was I wanted to do.

I wanted to empower other people.

The point of all this is to ask you to question your own motives in writing. What is it you really want out of putting words on paper? Is it the thrill of seeing your name on the cover on a bookshelf? Is it to finally understand the process of putting a story together? Is it so you can explain to people how you did it? Or to see the looks on their faces when you tell them you have done it?

It might be a hundred other things, but if you’re going to keep on doing it you need to understand exactly why you’re doing it and what you intend to get out of it. Otherwise you’ll stop. One day you won’t feel like writing, so you won’t write. That day will slip into two days, and before you know it a month has gone by. So think about it - what do you get the biggest kick out of? Just saying you enjoy it isn’t enough. You need to get more specific than that.

Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing my name in print. It’s definitely one of the biggest rewards for the efforts put in at the keyboard. But, do you know what? I love it even more when someone I’ve taught sees their name in print. Over the years I’ve learned that my overriding motivation in learning and practising the craft of writing is to enable me to empower other writers. That’s what I love doing most.

Before I made this discovery I’d write a bit and then stop. Then pick it up again, then stop again. Now I know why I’m doing it, I find I don’t stop anymore. When I’m not writing I’m devising ways to show others how to write in my classrooms.

Understanding my motivation is what keeps me going, in the same way that the writer mentioned at the beginning perfectly understood hers, and achieved prolific output and success as a result.

Take a moment today to think about it. Try to pin down exactly what your reasons for writing are. Behind all the thrill and hype of being a published writer, what else is lurking in your subconscious that gives you a reason to carry on?

Because when you discover what your writing motivation is, it will keep you going too.

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