Sued51's Blog

{June 7, 2013}   Motivation as a Key to Creativity

Writing In FlowMy morning routine includes reading a chapter of a book about writing and then writing my “morning pages” (as coined by Julia Cameron). I am currently reading “Writing in Flow: keys to enhanced creativity” by Susan K Perry, PhD. According to Ms. Perry, Key One is to Have a Reason to Write. In the questions at the end of the chapter she suggests that the reader examine his/her motivations for writing. She knows that her readers will find many. (I certainly did.) Her theory is that when you clear away the peripheral ones, you will get to the heart of the matter and learn a lot about how to foster flow in your writing.

It has always been easy to tell when I’m “inspired” in my writing vs. when I am not. It is as if I am a completely different person. When entering college I was required to write an essay to see whether I could opt-out of Freshman English. Unfortunately the topic was something I knew nothing about and had no interest in…so it was Freshman English for me. Once in class, we were able to choose our own subject as long as we followed the assigned format: comparison essay, descriptive essay, argumentative essay, etc.  Lo and behold, by the time I got to the third paper, my professor had written “A+” and a note that said, “Do you really belong in this class? See me.” Ah, the power of writing about something that interests me!

But I don’t want to depend on being “inspired” to write well, that’s why I am reading the book. So…what is my motivation for writing? I have loved books from the time I was a small child. Consequently I have always admired writers; it was always a club I longed to join. Also, one strong aspect of my personality is that I am a “communicator,” someone who is constantly trying to make sense of my world and interpret what I see, to create relationships between people and things that may not appear to be related (i.e., creating metaphors, the source of my poetic bent). And I want to connect with others, gain their respect, and have them appreciate what I have to say. But although I found many of my reasons have to do with connecting with others, I have written so much that no one has read: endless journals and poems that I haven’t shared. I’m thinking getting to know myself and being comfortable with myself is also an important reason that I write; it may be the bare bones reason, because even if no one reads what I have written but me, I still feel compelled to do it.

One of the most important things I learned from this exercise, though, had to do with a motivation that wasn’t there: making a living with writing. I’ve always struggled with that: making money by editing is one thing, doing it by writing is another. I have often felt conflicted, at times guilty, envious of others, and angry at myself for being a “failure” at making my writing “pay off.”  I often beat myself up about this “failure” and think that “I should” be making money. This exercise helped me work through some of those feelings. I simply don’t have the motivation for it. I am not a “failure” as a writer because I’m not making money at it. If I really wanted to make money at it, I would approach it differently. I would be writing what I think others are interested in; I would be doing research and treating it as a profession. I have to recognize that I am “choosing” not to make it a living at it.

I’ve got a long way to go with this book. I’m interested in what else I will learn about myself and where it will take me. My readers, have you ever REALLY explored your motivations for your passion?

Summer says:

Sweet you,

I’ve an award for you, for the person who you are and the things you share with the world

Thank you for that..

Namasté, Summer


sued51 says:

Thank you Summer for your appreciation. I’ll try to “pay it forward” soon. 🙂


A new-look blog, Sue! Not really, no, is the answer to your question. I’ve been journal scribbling for a long time, and have tried my hand at a variety of travel writing outlets, with differing degrees of satisfaction. I don’t have the big novel in me, but I like to write about what I want to write about. Which does make money making more difficult, as you say. But I would like to make money (just a little, please) if it were possible. 🙂


sued51 says:

I’m a lot like you, Jo…I can’t imagine NOT writing, but I wish a little money (opportunity) would come my way…pretty please? But seriously, I know you have to go out and get it, and I just don’t have the time and energy for that…so I guess I don’t want it THAT bad…:-)


What an interesting post, you have really got me thinking. It feels like you’re describing the age old tug between being creative and free to explore your own inner creativity and its outward expression, and being limited by what others want and will buy in a commercial sense….rather than just ‘oh that’s lovely, but don’t ask me to part with any cash for it!’ 🙂
For me when I don’t write I become unhappy, and see to lose connection with the creative core of myself. Life becomes superficial and a little dull!


sued51 says:

I agree “Green”…I’m unhappy if I don’t write and I feel “disconnected” to the world and myself. Except for the blog, I’ve been pretty content to write poems for myself and close friends for 30+ years. It is when I compare myself with others that I feel like I “should” be doing more. 🙂


munchow says:

Kind of a coincidence here, because right now I am also reading Writing in Flow. I find it to be an excellent book, and will later blog a little about it on my own blog. I also very well know Julia Cameron – and have done the morning pages she prescribes. I think it’s great that you have accepted with yourself that you are not a failure as a writer because you don’t make money from your writing skills. Remember what Cameron has to say about this, that one should pursue one’s creativity not money, but for the sake of its own. Keep at it!


sued51 says:

How interesting that we are both reading that book! I find that living a creative life, even if it is mostly for myself right now, makes me a much happier person, AND more generous and more joyful. I look forward to hearing what you have to say about the book and what you learned from it. 🙂


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