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Are you writing for the wrong reason? - Madeline Bartson Guest Post

This month's guest blogger, Madeline Bartson, is an author coach and YA writer who helps lost writers get their motivation back - and sets them up for success. You can find out more on her website, or contact her via Instagram.


Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?

I do.

I was in kindergarten and it was a story about me and Snow White fighting over who would go to the ball with the prince before we decide to ditch the prince and go together. The rest of my classmates were still learning how to read, and here I was typing up a story.

In first grade, I moved onto Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fanfic. I think that’s the most feverishly I’ve ever thrown myself into anything, and although it was 17 years ago, I’m pretty sure it was the most fun I’ve ever had by myself.

I recently found that TMNT fanfic and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.

No one told me to write TMNT fanfic. I can’t even remember why I started in the first place -- being obsessed with an idea and bringing it to life on the page was as natural to me as breathing.

I’ve heard a lot of writers’ origin stories, and while yours might be different from mine, I’m guessing you got into this game for the same reason I did: because you love to tell stories.

Fast forward from first to eighth grade. Right before high school, I realized my dream of being a published author. Little 14-year-old Madeline said to myself, “All right, I’m getting serious now.”

That’s when it all went downhill.

I learned about four-act story structure. I learned about character arcs. I learned about how to outline a novel. I did everything I could to learn how to write a “good” book that would ultimately land me an agent and a publishing deal.

You can see where this is going, right?

In first grade I didn’t care if my TMNT fanfic had an inciting incident or if Donatello’s character arc was a little flat or if I could have fleshed out the world building in the sewers a little more.

But as a writer with publication dreams, suddenly I cared. A lot. And the knowledge of everything I was doing “wrong” was crippling.

It became easier and easier to not write at all than it was to write and “fail.”

I think it is absolutely amazing to have big, brave, and bold dreams.

But whenever you feel your writing motivation lacking, don’t write for your dreams. Don’t write for that agent, don’t write for that massive book deal, don’t write for your future readers.

Write for you. More specifically, write for the you who wrote Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fanfic because you were obsessed with writing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fanfic.

I don’t know about you, but I will keep writing for the rest of my life, even if I never publish a single word.

When writing becomes scary or daunting, I write from that place. I write for the Madeline who is obsessed with telling TMNT stories. And guess what? That’s when I do some of my best work. That’s when I connect with my characters and the words (not half-bad words if I do say so myself) start flowing onto the page.

I encourage you to do the same. Write for your inner child, for your inner storyteller. Once you do that, everything becomes a lot less scary, a lot easier, and way more fun. The world needs your TMNT fanfic.


Visit Madeline Bartson's website for more writing motivation blogs, and information on her coaching programs for writers.


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