The Author’s Spark: Why Write and For Whom?

Why do you write? What makes you fuse pen and paper and rattle your keyboard? Is there a purpose for all these words, or is it unraveled as you jot down a scene? Do we bring meaning to stories or do we find it inside the unfolding? Could it be for self-expression, fame and fortune, or for the solace of our mind ticks?

May it be for practical or personal reasons, it is important to dig deep down the roots and know why we move. Seeing this grand vision of our aim for means sets us in high spirits and catapults our focus in the write path. So each time we pick up our pen and open our laptops, we know why and for whom.

While you’re at it, here are 10 notable authors on setting goals and motivation that could spark your writing fires before you even finish this article. Inspiration guaranteed!


Author Goals:

Linda Formichelli


Your goals need to be something you can control. – @LFormichelli

On a guest post in Write to Done, Linda Formicelli of The Renegade Writer spoke about sculpting goals in a fluid system by controlling “how many clients you gain, how many assignments you get, or much money you make”, just like how Annabel Candy of Get in the Hotspot advises to create tight imaginary deadlines for yourself to spur you on.

We just sit down to write no matter how hard it is, because no one else can write it like us. – @AnnabelCandy

Dustin Wax also elaborated on styling crisp goals into smart goals in Writer’s Technology:

“Someday”, “eventually”, “when inspiration strikes”, “as the Muses allow” – these words and phrases need to be banished from your goal-setting vocabulary. What you need are crisp, clear, specific goals. SMART goals. – @dwax

More than its basic premise, SMART is an acronym created by business psychologist George Doran that’s spelt for specific, measurable, relevant, and time-bound goals.


Brendon Burchard


We have to be conscious enough to say oh wow, I’m not moving forward because I’m scared. – @BrendonBurchard

I haven’t completed this because I’m distracted. Realizing that the scary feeling, that fear of rejection or failure isn’t going away and it’s not supposed to, that there’s some big ideological belief out there that we’re never supposed to feel fear. There’s always going to be some new thing in the world, some new responsibility or some new whim or want of the people around me to pull me from my very sense of freedom, happiness and joy in life, my very progress. – Our Worst Excuse: The Perfectionist’s Lie


Andy Smith


If you don’t put a date on your goal, there will always be something more urgent to deal with. –  @PracticalEQ

Motivation expert Gavin Ingham interviewed Andy Smith, the author of Achieve Your Goals: Strategies to Transform Your Life about his goal-setting expertise and imparted wise tips on the subject:

There is always something “urgent” clamouring for our attention, with more tasks waiting in line when that one is dealt with. So it requires a conscious effort to step off the hamster wheel and take some time to think about what’s important to you and where you want to get to. The best advice I’ve ever been given was “plan the time to plan” – set aside some protected time so that you can think about the future.

The only way to find out what’s realistic is to go for it. – @PracticalEQ


James Clear


Commit to a process, not a goal. – @james_clear

If you’re a writer, your goal is to write a book. Your system is the writing schedule that you follow each week. Goals reduce your current happiness. When you focus on the practice instead of the performance, you can enjoy the present moment and improve at the same time. Having a system is what matters. Committing to the process is what makes the difference.Entrepreneur


Why Write:

Johanna Castro 


We write because it pushes us beyond the barriers of everyday existence into a world of what might be. – @JohannaACastro

In a guest post for Goins Writer, she hints that writing isn’t about money:

A world of opportunity. An infinite variety of maybes and what ifs. A vast plain of words that might help describe the world in which we live. – @JohannaACastro

Harrison Cheung and Jennifer Gilmore agrees:

 In general, I love to exercise my imagination when I’m working on my novels. These are worlds that are escapes from my day job! – Harrison Cheung

Fiction is the filter through which I see the world.  And I suppose I write to stop time. – @jenwgilmore


Mary Gaitskill 


It’s dynamic creation and pure, delighted receptivity happening on the same field, a great call and response.

I think all people have this need. It’s why children like to draw pictures of houses, animals, and Mom; it’s an affirmation of their presence in the corporeal world. You come into life, and life gives you everything your senses can bear: broad currents of animal feeling running alongside the particularity of thought.

Sunlight, stars, colors, smells, sounds. Tender things, sweet, temperate things, harsh, freezing, hot, salty things. All the different expressions on people’s faces and in their voices. For years, everything just pours into you, and all you can do is gurgle or scream until finally one day you can sit up and hold your crayon and draw your picture and thus shout back, Yes! I hear! I see! I feel! This is what it’s like! – The Wolf in the Tall Grass

With over 100 published books Cynthia MacGregor, writes in the same vein:

It’s who I am. It’s what I love. I even write for fun on top of writing for a living. I couldn’t NOT write. I need to write like I need to breathe, to eat, it’s vital to me.


Mark Coker


Great fiction pulls the reader in with words and stories that can spur vivid imagery in the reader’s mind. If a book can move you to laughter or tears, imagine what the author feels while creating it? – @markcoker

George Orwell believes that “all writers are vain, selfish, and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”

But for Smashwords founder, Mark Coker:

Many authors write for deeply personal – dare I say even selfish – reasons that have little to do with fame or fortune. This might explain why authors continue to write and publish – both through traditional and self-published presses – even though the prospects for financial compensation are slim. – Why Do Writers Write?


Joe Bunting


We write to be fully alive. – @joebunting

Writing draws us into the moment. We see the blades of grass, hear the miniscule chirp of the morning cricket, watch the shade travel from one edge of the yard to the other, seemingly for the first time. Writing helps us make art out of everyday, ordinary moments.Why We Write: Four Reasons


For Whom:

Doris Lessing


You should write, first of all, to please yourself. You shouldn’t care a damn about anybody else at all. But writing can’t be a way of life, the important part of writing is living. You have to live in such a way that your writing emerges from it.


Seth Godin


I made a decision to write for my readers, not to try to find more readers for my writing. – @ThisIsSethsBlog

By imagining that there is just one person in the world who needs to hear what he has to say, Seth was able to reach his readers and help them. In the same light, Orhan Pamuk posited in the International Herald Tribune who he writes for:

There is no such thing as an ideal reader, free of narrow-mindedness and unencumbered by social prohibitions or national myths, just as there is no such thing as an ideal novelist. But a novelist’s search for the ideal reader – be he national or international – begins with the novelist’s imagining him into being, and then by writing books with him in mind.

Writers write for their ideal reader, for their loved ones, for themselves or for no one. All this is true. But it is also true that today’s literary writers also write for those who read them. – @_orhanpamuk


There’s really no secret to it. As William Faulkner suggests, “Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.” At the end of the day, we can all agree with Harlan Ellison when he spilled the magic potion in writing:

People on the outside think there’s something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn’t like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that’s all there is to it. – @HarlanEllison9

What sparks you to write? Let us know in the comments section below.


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1 Response

  1. I write to capture the sheer delight of an idea that has come to me, or a combination of words that appears to my mind, out of nowhere, and insists on being heard. I have no goals for achieving a specific readership. Somebody, somewhere, might resonate with what I have written, and that is enough incentive for me.

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