The Compulsion of an Author Share:

Steve Williamson, Sr. Project Manager, eRep, Inc.
Monday, December 25, 2017

For the amount of effort required, choosing to become an author has a poor return on investment. The monetary and fame rewards are small, and only a small percentage of authors make enough money to write full-time. What motivates someone to spend months or even years writing a book that likely won't pay the rent?

When talking with a group of high school students about the process of writing a book, I asked the question, "Why would someone want to become an author?" The answers were varied but most centered around themes of fame or money, with J.K. Rowling and Stephen King mentioned most.

I explained that it's rare for a novel to be written in less than six months, and royalties rarely exceed $5,000, total.

"Can you think of another reason why someone would want to write novels?" I asked.

A student named Emma shyly raised her hand and speculated, "Because they want to?"

Her friends giggled at what they thought was teen sarcasm, but when I smiled and said, "Exactly," they fell silent.

"To be more precise," I added, "it's because they feel compelled to do so. What does it mean to feel compelled to do something?" I asked.

The class discussed ideas and reached the consensus that it meant the person had to do it at a fundamental, personal, emotional level.

"The best authors write because they have to write," I pointed out. "It's like they have the story within them, bursting to come out. They write almost because they have no choice. It's a big part of who they are."

Emma gave me a knowing smile and I could tell she was one of those people that are compelled to write. Her litany of questions at the end of the session confirmed it.

That evening, as I was thinking back on my lecture, I reflected on the metaphor of an author's compulsion to write and how it mirrored the fundamental, innate core values we all have based on our Core Values Index profile. The CVI is a measurement or picture of our values, our compulsions, our passions, and our methods. It is the DNA of our personality.

The CVI is a blueprint of what drives us, what motivates us, and what brings us happiness.

We gain the most happiness from life when we are acting within the sphere of our core selves. If you are a methodical person that reads all the directions first before assembling a bookshelf from IKEA, your comfort zone won't be in an environment that changes frequently and has no rules of operation. Conversely, someone who thrives on change and fast-paced variety would likely be bored within minutes trying to get that bookshelf put together. They'd probably just look at the picture on the box and wing it from there.

In addition to being a project manager, I am also an author. I wrote three novels in three years, a fantasy trilogy called The Taesian Chronicles. It took a lot of time, but it wasn't work. Like an incoming tide, it was something I futilely tried to hold off before I finally relented and wrote the first page, and then the first chapter, and then the first book, and so on. It didn't take effort to write those books, it took effort not to.

That is what dwelling within your Core Values feels like.

Go to to learn more about the CVI or to take the Core Values Index assessment.
The Compulsion of an Author

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Steve Williamson

Steve Williamson

Innovator/Banker - Sr. Project Manager, eRep, Inc.

Steve has a career in information technology and software development spanning nearly three decades. He is the author of a trilogy of fantasy novels called The Taesian Chronicles, and when he isn't writing he enjoys motorcycle adventure touring and buzzing around the skies in his home-built flight simulator.