Ben Ellis writes the following in response to my question on Twitter – what motivates you to write? – which I asked before recording last week’s podcast:
Yes, I’d like to be read and admired, have people fawn over my mind-bending, world changing ideas, get paid, get laid, get wined and dined, who wouldn’t? But I don’t think an unpublished writer without any literary background can begin with these elevated ideas of achievement, it doesn’t seem to be a healthy relationship to have with your own writing. Ego-stroking and material gain as motivation before you’ve even finished anything keeps your eyes on glittery distractions rather than your story.
I agree with Ben but only to a point, because I generally think it’s good to reach for the stars, so long as you’re not delusional. I’ve said this before and I’ll no doubt say it again – aim high, expect nothing.
I see no harm in wanting to achieve as much as you can possibly achieve. Sure, you will have to set smaller goals and be willing to work your arse off, but if you don’t set out wanting to produce high quality, publishable work, then you likely never will.
On the other hand, remember the first part of that last sentence at all times – all writing is hard, hard work. And any gain, material or otherwise, will only come when you’ve got a finished product to show for your toil.