Did you ever play the game “Red Light, Green Light” as a kid? One person plays the “stop light” and the other kids have to try to reach him or her. Meanwhile, the “stop light” gets to shout out directions of when they can go or not go.
Let’s play a little game. Pretend your finished piece of writing is the “stop light” you’re trying to reach. The next time you are about to get to work, I want you to take a moment and ask yourself, “Why am I doing it?”
If the answer is anything like some of the following, stop.
- I want to be published
- I want to impress girls (or guys, or both)
- I want to be famous
- I want people to think I am a genius
- I want to be validated by someone/something
These reasons all have sources outside of yourself. If none of those above situations come to pass, you’ll feel disappointed and wonder why you wasted so much time on that book, screenplay, or song.
If, however, your reasons match up with any of the reasons below, go, go, go!
- I love the feeling of completion when I finish a piece
- I enjoy playing with words
- I like having this time to myself to sort out my thoughts
- I love to create
- It brings me joy
These are all reasons that originate from within, and therefore ultimately matter way more than any reason someone else could give you for writing.
* And, as is often the case, Adam P. Knave posted an excellent article today that’s completely related! Go check it out here.