First, in our Stake Conference a few weeks ago, the visiting authority suggested that we ask "Why?" when seeking motivation to adhere to any principle of the gospel. If we have a clear answer to "Why do our visiting teaching?" or "Why do missionary work?" and the like, we will be more successful at it.
I think we writers can extend that principle to our writing, so I've begun to ask myself, "Why do I write?" Is it a need, or is it to gain something--fame, fortune (Hah!), a sense of accomplishment, respect from others? Or is it something more than any of those things?
Second, there was a discussion on a message board recently about David Farland's most recent Daily Kick posting. Generally, he was pointing out that several of those he has taught have gone on to fame and/or fortune, and he was wondering what he needed to do to make it big (or at least "bigger"), so to speak. As his wife put it, "Dave, why don't you go write something big? Don't let all of your students take all of the largest contracts."
But is that why I write? To get a great big, fat, juicy publishing contract? The odds of that are slim to none, of course, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't shoot for it, does it? Hmmm...
He went on to say that he felt authors should constantly be striving to be better, surpassing the work they've done before (and I agree), but then he went on to measure the author's growth by his/her number of readers, focusing on an author's power to convert non-readers into readers.
That is certainly a compelling reason to write, but is it my reason?
Finally, I came across the reason that rings closest to my own. It was given by Kurt Vonnegut in a 2006 letter politely declining to visit a high school in New York. They had wanted his best advice for a successful career in writing, and this is what he wrote, as published in The Huffington Post: