As I was scrolling through the writing hashtag, I came across a post by the same title and was reminded of an assignment that asked the very same question.
My junior year of college, I took the first of two writing fiction classes required to get a minor in Creative Writing. Our first assignment was to answer the question: Why do you write and what are your motivations? This became our “artist statement”.
Who knows what my professor did with them besides mark it complete before he handed them back to us. It was an assignment that made me think harder than I expected and I held onto it. Here’s what I said two years ago:
As a writer, I’m motivated by seeing other people succeed. If I read a story or a book that a lot of people like I always think, “Maybe I could write something too.” I am also motivated by movies, books, and television shows I watched, read, or heard people talk about. I’m motivated by a desire to create something that people will want to share with others and my own need to express myself creatively. I’m a big fan of adventure, romance, and most recently mystery. I like including things of that nature in my writing. I also value the themes of family, friendship, and growth within my stories. I believe my strengths as a writer are coming up with ideas for a story and creating relatable characters. I’m also good at creating sarcastic characters because I think I can be a really sarcastic person. My weaknesses are keeping a character’s personality consistent, focusing on one story idea at a time, and doubting my work. I always find myself writing something and asking questions like, “Would this character really say that?” or “Is this cliché?” Another weakness I have that makes writing more difficult for me is completing a piece. Sometimes I start writing and get to a certain point where I get stuck. I lose the motivation to finish that story. Hopefully, I can improve on these weaknesses.
Here are my thoughts as I look back on this today:
My motivations are mostly the same, but now it’s not just about saying, “Hey look, I can do it too.” It’s more so about expressing myself and using my talent for writing that I’ve been growing over the years to create the characters I want to exist. I’ve watched a lot of television shows and movies and read books where I like a character but there’s something missing or a writer or producers miss an opportunity with their story or that character’s development. As a woman of color, I also want to bring my own experiences into my writing and characters for the young readers and writers who may not see themselves very often in literature.
Growing up with a love of books, I was constantly reading about white characters saving the day or being the chosen one. It wasn’t until I was in college that I finally found myself comfortable enough to even consider the idea of making my main characters people of color.
My strengths are the same and I’m happy to say that I rarely second guess my character’s dialogue. I’ve been able to encompass who they are so that it’s no longer “Would they really that?” but “How would he or she say this?” Do I need to add in an eye roll or extra tension? Does she have tears in her eyes? Sarcasm is still my strong suit; in writing and in real life.
I still struggle with focusing on one project as I discussed in a previous Tuesday Talk. I’ll be in the middle of writing a chapter of my novel and get an idea for a short story. Or I’ll be browsing Tumblr and get the urge to write fanfic. It’s just how my brain works I guess. I’ve been getting better at completing pieces too, which is exciting.
The best thing about writing is that you can practice as many times and for as long as you want. Words can be rearranged in so many different ways and there are so many types of experiences and people who can be incorporated into a work. We’ll see what my artist statement will look like in another two years.
I would love to hear from you. Why do you write? What motivates you? Be honest with yourself about what your strengths and weaknesses are.
Happy writing and until next time!