John Beyer on Motivation for Writing

Motivation for writing should be the writing itself. But that is not always the case – theoperationscorpion true motivator for this Wordsmith, is to be read.

I’m not a diarist, keeping my inner thoughts inside the covers of a notebook not to be seen by the outside world. No, to be read by complete strangers is the motivation which prompts one to spend hours upon hours in the make believe world of fiction (or nonfiction for that matter).

Then again, why write? Why not paint? Construct beautiful pieces of sculpture? All are worthy for the creative mind but why do so many of us put pen to paper or fingers to keypads?

Seems simple enough – to tell a story. Be that a short story or a novel – a story needs to be told and the one with the imagination to express the prose must be the one to share it. And most importantly a story needs to be read.

Thus a writer is born.

Then again, opportunity is a great happenstance to motivate the mind.

When I was younger, an opportunity presented itself to me and I met it head on. Writing for a local monthly magazine gave me the chance to meet some incredibly interesting people, and one of those was Ray Bradbury. Yes, the magical story teller of such international fame as Fahrenheit 451, All Summer in a Day, and The Martian Chronicles just to name a few. He was a guest speaker at a local library and I wandered in to hear from the master himself. Forty minutes later I knew I wanted to be a fiction writer. The pieces I had written up to that point were non-fiction for both the magazine I wrote for and the occasional newspaper articles.

The way Ray brought to life his love of storytelling was so impressive that I jotted as fast as I could into a small 5 x 7 spiral notebook. Everything was golden to the ears of this very young and impressionable journalist. At the end of his lecture – yes, the professor was speaking to his student, I realized two things.

First, I would interview Ray Bradbury for the magazine, and secondly I would someday be both a novelist and short story author.

Approached and approved for a phone interview the following week I was giddy with anticipation and scared at ‘screwing’ up my first real opportunity at interviewing a ‘celebrity.’

I was nervous but it was all for naught. Ray Bradbury immediately put me at ease and soon the interview turned into a true conversation between two writers. A world famous legend and a struggling one who now had dreams of fame and fortune.

Article written and published – so my job was done.

Two weeks later the phone rang and it was Ray. “Good job on the article. You made me sound as though I know a thing or two about writing.”

Wow, Ray Bradbury calling me to congratulate me on an article. He had actually read it!

From then on we’d speak once or twice per year via phone or snail mail. To this day, especially after his passing in 2012 I believe he was part of my personal motivation to keep writing.

Did it work? Three novels and numerous stories –both non-fiction and fiction in the last decade – it seems to this writer that Bradbury had a major influence to keep that once young student’s fingers pecking away at the keyboard as part of an almost daily routine.

Of course, I had been writing prior to this meeting with Bradbury, but there was something there which was inspirational.

With that and the support of a loving family, if one is so lucky to have that, would be another wonderful factor in becoming successful in this world of storytelling. The hours locked away in the study with the understanding from loved ones that the door would open when certain events occurred.

That would be when dialogue flowed smoothly, the action took place, tears fell on characters faces, or the other one hundred things which have to happen to make a story a story.

Stories must be told and that should be enough to make a person have the desire to write but often it is not enough.

Opportunity will often give birth to motivation – it did for this writer.

doing-researchFormer street cop, training officer and member of SWAT John Beyer has been writing most of his life. He’s traveled to at least 23 countries (and was actually shot in the head in Spain in 2000 during a march between Neo Nazis and Communists two days after running with the bulls in Pamplona). He was caught in a hurricane off the coast of east Baja (Bahia de los Angeles) while kayaking and lived to tell about it. Essentially, it’s hard to tell where experience leaves off and fiction takes over. You’ll want to read his books.

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18 thoughts on “John Beyer on Motivation for Writing

  1. John, I completely agree with your opening paragraph: I, too, write because I want readers to read what I’ve written. However, the motivation aspect is a bit more tricky for many scribes, professional or otherwise. Along with being “read,” most writers want the good reviews, the money, and the other so-called perks of being a writer, and I don’t feel that that is totally about ego or greed. Those things–money and good reviews in particular–provide a measure of validation. Call it a psychological scorecard, if you will. In order to write (and write well), one needs a healthy dose of arrogance and fear. At this point, I sit down at the keyboard in the morning without hope or despair. My motivation is intrinsic rather extrinsic, but I don’t judge others who chase a proverbial brass ring. That said, if one writes primarily for external reasons then eventually he or she will quit. I know I have quit at various times over the last decade, and each time I did it was because I felt like I wasn’t being “appreciated.” What a waste of time! But I digress. . .

    Thanks for sharing on MMO.



    1. Max – thanks for your comments and I believe whatever makes a person want to write and express their thoughts to a reader is the true motivating factor. As long as a writer writes then they are successful both inwardly and outwardly. John


    2. I believe I posted to the wrong spot accidently – sorry.

      Max – thanks for your comments and I believe whatever makes a person want to write and express their thoughts to a reader is the true motivating factor. As long as a writer writes then they are successful both inwardly and outwardly.

      There – that’s better. John


  2. What a terrific post John. Written with wisdom. I think for myself the satisfaction and motivation come. from using words and moving them around until they run smoothly in my mind with the feeling I had originally in writing them. That gives me the buzz. It’s why I keep writing. i think for the same sort of reason people keep painting, sculpting, dancing, creating music – you feel it in your heart and must express it. It does take the involvement of others to light the fire, but the logs are already in position for people with creative drive.
    It takes mentors and inspiring people who care about others to lend an ear and give encouragement too. You had Bradbury. I hope all writers who “mean it” have other writers to share with. Stories need to be told. I have a journal but it is a collection of writing that goes into works meant for publication. I don’t see anything wrong in wanting good reviews and validation and even to be paid. Those things may or may not happen but the desire for them is normal.
    Nice comment Max. It’s better than hearing you call your books “silly” as you did the other day. If I thought that was true I would not have read and written a review on ALPHABET LAND”. It was important to me or I would not have done it.
    Interesting that you ran with the bulls at Pamplona John. I wouldn’t run with bulls even if Hemingway thought it was terrific, but there are many things men do that I would not. Nevertheless I admit I have a healthy dose of fear and enough arrogance as Max says to sit down and write every day regardless of the consequences. Thanks Kait for providing this post I really enjoyed it. Best to you John.



  3. Good post, John. I also want my work to be read. I think that’s something living inside most, if not all, writers. Even hacks like me. 🙂 Amazing story about meeting Ray Bradbury and keeping in touch through the years. Never ran with bulls, but I have been shot. Not much fun in that.
    Thanks for sharing your talent with MMO, and good luck with your writing! 🙂


  4. Why is it necessary to be self-deprecating? You are both extremely talented writers and willing to share and believe there is dignity and importance in sharing writing both fiction and non fiction. When people who are educated and talented writers themselves wish to bless you with the value of your writing you both have a hard time accepting that what you have written is important and honestly i think you are both your worst enemies. Try to have some compassion you give to others on yourselves and you might actually give other writers hope that their writing can make a difference in life. I do understand but it takes some guts to take on you guys. And all for what? That some writers like to run with the bulls? I am already running with the bulls and take a look in the mirror.
    I am not a fool and if i like your writing i do have the background and work to make it mean something. So is it possible for you to accept a well done without making it impossible that every writer is different. And important. You guys are not going to intimidate me. I know what I like and I know what is good. No bulls. Lots of balls.. No bull. Got it?


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