I love to write. It’s honestly one of my favorite things to do.
And as much as writing is a creative outlet, I greatly enjoy the “science” behind it. Building sentences, creating paragraphs, and mapping out the emotional journey I’d like readers to embark upon. There’s also a sales component to the process. From the title of an article to its first few sentences, if you can’t pique the interest of readers and engage them into your world right away, then this is nothing but a bunch of letters taking up space on the Internet.
But what happens when “the sale” comes first?
Understanding what motivates you to write is everything, while knowing how to engage a reader and take them on a journey is really just a skill. If you start putting this skill ahead of your motivation, that’s when the trouble begins. This became very clear to me recently when I was writing something to a group of friends, busting chops to be exact, and after spending some time crafting my epic prose of passive aggressive ridicule within the friendly confines of our light-hearted banter, I realized that I had an ear to ear smile on my face the whole time and the words couldn’t have left my fingers fast enough.
Now *this* is writing, I remember thinking to myself.
That feeling has been missing lately, to be honest. This experience made me remember that some of my best Brad the Dad creations came at a time when I wasn’t thinking about why I was writing, but simply writing because I was breathing and loved to write. At a time when my motivation for writing was probably something more subconscious than conscious. Being a new dad was the height of this writing clarity; story creation almost automatic. The words would fly from my fingers just as they did when I was roasting my friends and my edits to “sell” these stories would come afterwards, not first.
As you might have guessed, writing has become something of a fight for me these days. The words no longer flow as easily and it feels like I’m trying to “sell” right out of the gates instead of layering in those subtle changes afterwards. My motivation went from being something subconscious, to a conscious effort focused on the wrong thing. So, then what is my motivation?
Why do I write?
Being a dad is surely still a major source of motivation and provides an endless array of emotions to draw upon, but most of my “dad energy” these days is spent in the present. These two growing boys are simply awake longer and do more things. Just from a “there’s only so much time in the day” perspective — home work, youth sports, birthday parties, and play dates eat up an incredible amount of time. As far as mental energy goes, so much is spent helping them navigate the challenges associated with difficult classmates, school bus drama, outdoor recess mayhem, and stupid, fake news stories about evil clowns. After all that, we still need to make sure they are respecting their elders, eating their vegetables, and saying “please” and “thank you.”
It’s a lot, but my wife and I are incredibly proud of what our two boys tackle on a daily basis, and to pat ourselves on the backs, it’s in no small part due to the time and energy we both put into their lives. So while I love writing about them and will continue to do so, I’ve come to realize that they are no longer the driving force behind my subconscious “why” for writing. Most of that energy is already spent, and my fear was that so was my writing. But leave it good ol’ fashioned busting chops between friends to remind me that my love for writing is still alive and well. That I still love to build sentences, create paragraphs, and take readers on an emotional journey with my words.
I love to write.
It’s honestly one of my favorite things to do, and that’s why I do it.