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By Johannes Helmold

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What should I do if I suddenly don’t see the point in writing? If one is an amateur writer, has never been published, and is writing tons of short stories that only a few people read, what is the point?

I believe these kinds of questions are not about a lack of motivation, but rather about the lack of understanding of one’s reasons to write. If a person has a craving for becoming a famous writer, seeks recognition and wealth (though I am not sure writing is the most direct way to these goals), knowing this can motivate oneself even during the period of writing to imaginary readers. Or a writer may be fond of the process, and does not care much about the results—in this case, he or she will continue writing for fun, and fame and recognition can be pleasant bonuses for them.

Problems, however, start when a writer confuses these two (or other possible) reasons. This is what happened to me. Believing that I am a truly devoted writer, I kept writing, but the more I wrote, the more dissatisfied I became with the fact that no one wanted to publish my stories. I started to doubt my talent, and then I felt like I was losing my interest in writing. I would look at a blank sheet of paper, and be like, “Nah, no point in all this.”

Once (to skip the part about how I got to this point—everyone has their own way) I realized what I truly wanted was social recognition and approval for what I did, not writing stories for the joy of it, everything returned in their places. My disappointment with writing was an unsatisfied need for people recognizing me as a writer. I substituted reality with my expectations. When I figured it all out, I regained my writing drive.

So, next time when you feel like “writing sucks,” or “I’ll never become a worthwhile author,” and think about quitting being a writer, ask yourself what lies beneath this disappointment. Perhaps you don’t understand yourself quite well.

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