Everyone has different motives for writing.

For some it is just a way to make money. These writers analyze the market and try to figure out what will topics will sell the most books. Then they fill their writing with thoughts that people want to hear, thoughts that are not really their own, and maybe even thoughts that they don’t necessarily even agree with. But they want to sell, so they sell out.

Others write for personal fulfillment. Steven Pressfield (author of The Legend of Badger Vance and The War of Art) said recently in an interview by fear.less magazine that “part of the exercise of writing for me is that I discover in the act of it who I am and what I think.” This is definitely, in my view, a worthwhile reason to write. It does seem that we think we know who we are but in some ways we are actually like many different people in one, changing our minds from one minute to the next, feeling so sure about something and doubting it later– a confusing mix of thoughts. We do not come to conclusions on many things. Our unfinished thoughts just hang there in the air. But when we take out a sheet of paper and a pencil, or we start typing away on a keyboard, then our ideas form into convictions and beliefs.  Our muddled minds start to make sense. So writing is about discovery.

Then there are those who write for another, perhaps grander reason.  Although writing on the topic of publishing, what Jason Epstein wrote in Book Business pinpoints that reason.  He said “when I became a publisher it was my undergraduate encounter with books that I wanted to share with the world. I believed and still do that the democratic ideal is a permanent and inconclusive Socratic seminar in which we all learn from one another. The publisher’s job is to supply the necessary readings.”

For publishers to supply such readings, writers must first supply the “necessary” writings.  When we write either for self-discovery or for sharing with others (or even better, for both) and not just for money, then our writing takes on a depth and meaning that can only come from a higher purpose.

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