I started writing out of unhappiness. From a hatred for a job I was in that lacked purpose, that took away my autonomy, that treated employees like cogs in a machine.
Journaling became a tool to take back control, in some sense. To explore & quantify my fears on paper. To give form to my hopes & dreams.
To plot a route to my liberation. My escape.
That was the driving force. That was what kept me writing for 2 hours each morning, getting up at 5.30–6am in the dark Northern European winter before heading into work each day.
My motivation was simple:
Explore ideas through writing to better understand myself, my interests, my goals in life. And in doing so, work out what I would do next, once I’d escaped the trappings of my new-found corporate existence.
8 months, 240 journal entries & 110 published articles later, that motivation is still there.
I publish to share my lessons with my audience, with you, in the hope that I can in some way help you on your own journey of self-discovery, true.
But I still write to serve myself. To explore myself. To better understand myself.
That’s the core motivation. That is what keeps me going every morning.
If you write — or want to start — you will, I’m sure, have found that sometimes you don’t know where to start. Or where to even take your writing.
At some point you will find you hit a wall. Maybe you don’t know what to write. Maybe you don’t know why you’re writing anymore.
Maybe you start thinking, “Why do I bother? Why, when the results seem so inconsequential?”
And your motivation will fade. Whatever that motivation constituted. And you’ll give up. You’ll be one of the majority who started, gave it a shot, but gave up before giving your budding creative side a decent chance.
And the problem is the basis of your motivation. The problem is that what motivated you at first will not sustain you.
It’s too transient. Too unimportant.
Because, usually, we write for feedback. We write for the praise & adulation of others.
We write to see the like count on Medium creep up each day.
We crave that feedback because we crave validation. We crave respect from others. We crave a sense of purpose & validation that is external.
We feel more comfortable basing our self-validation on the opinions & whims of others than on our own self-worth.
And thus, when the likes, the comments, the praise does not come, we lose hope. We lose motivation.
Our writing fades into nothing.
This is why I put myself first with my writing. I serve my interests, my needs.
I explore what I would like to explore that day. What excites me. What troubles me. What scares me.
It is in that self-exploration that you will find true motivation.
One that is perennial.
One that will endure the years ahead of you.
One that will accompany you through the ebbs & flows of your life.
Therefore do not base your writing on others. Do not make your motivation dependent on them.
Make it dependent on yourself. Find motivation in yourself.
And, if you are likely, like myself, you may find that other people come to read about your journey along the way.