Why do you tell stories? Why are you telling this story?
- Is it because you want to see your name in print (or the screen)?
- Is it because you want to be a New York Times Bestseller and retire early?
- Is it because you have a story that won’t let you be alone until you write it down?
- Is it because you love telling yourself the stories you can’t seem to find already written?
- Is it because you enjoy seeing your story come to realization from a seed in your mind?
- Is it because you enjoy hearing from the readers and sharing your experience?
- A combination of these reasons?
There are infinite motivations to go to the trouble of telling a story–for yourself; readers; or even in the case of more interactive storytelling, the shared experience. None of them are right or wrong or better than one another, but I think knowing your motivation as a storyteller, and of your story, is a key component, not only to reaching that goal, but to maintaining your passion while doing it.
If you are telling your story because you can’t get it out of your head otherwise and it’s been churning in your brain for years, you might be writing for your own peace of mind. It might not even require you to write the whole story from beginning to end (although telling part of a story, for me, usually creates the next part of the mind worm); it might not even require you to revise the story or show it to anyone else. Another motivation might be secondary, or even non-existent.
If you’re writing in hopes of widespread (or even self-) publication, then there are other steps involved–editing, revision, market research, submission, etc. If you’re writing to become the next NYT Best Seller, then you’ll need to do a lot of market research and work at getting your story interesting to a broad audience.
Each of these motivations could (and probably will) comprise a whole host of columns on their own, but I feel a key to enjoying and thriving as a passionate storyteller is to know your motivation. Just as motivation drives your characters, it drives you as a storyteller. If you know why you want to tell stories (or that particular story), then you can make sure that the stories you tell fit both your motivation and your process. If your passion for storytelling is flagging, and you don’t feel, well, motivated, maybe it’s time to look into yourself as much as your story and see what drives you.