the burning desire to write & traits of creative high achievers



I’m reading Kelly L Stone’s Time to Write and I like what she terms “the burning desire to write”.

She took the term “burning desire” from motivational speaker and author Napoleon Hill:

This desire — a persistent vision that inspires action to reach an end goal — becomes the driving force that motivates a person to do the necessary tasks to achieve success in any area.

That ‘burning desire to write’ manifests itself as a kind of addiction. After you write, you feel settled, content. You feel better about yourself. The day takes on depth and dimension.

When you don’t write, you start to get edgy. A feeling of agitation takes root in your blood and starts to branch out through you.

The only release is to write.

(I’m feeling better already just writing this.)

Ask yourself this question: do you like yourself better on the days that you do write versus the days that you don’t? That’s your Burning Desire to Write.

This Desire, continues Stone, is what spurs writers on to become “what motivation theorists call creative high achievers”.

I’m not so sure about this — does the desire to write make manifest “creative high achievers” or do creative high achievers make manifest the desire to write?

Traits of Creative High Achievers (and Writers):

Seek out solitude on a regular basis.

I used to think that being a writer demanded a freakish solitary streak, but I’ve come to realize that developing your talent in pretty much anything demands a capacity for solitude. It’s not like all those hours of practice can happen down at the pub. And now that I’ve met enough writers to make annoying, sweeping generalizations about them, I’d say they’re about as social as any other group, if some more so than others. Which is why the Internet is such a godsend for writers, who would have few opportunities to gather their scattered, farflung tribe.

Have vivid imaginations.

Well, duh. What I find interesting, though, is the relationship between creativity, the development of a rich inner life, and an unhappy childhood. When you’re a kid, and you’re miserable, often the only method of escape is to disconnect from the reality around you and plug into a different one.

Creativity as psychological survival mechanism.

“My problem,” an aspiring writer used to moan to me in university, “is that I had a happy childhood.”

I could only nod and pat his back reassuringly.

If I had had a happy childhood, perhaps I’d be a lawyer.

Are real go-getters.

They take “calculated risks”. I would say they’re attempting to avoid the more frightening risk of a so-called ‘normal life’ that seems, to them, a kind of living death, and which they’re probably not too competent at in any case.

Don’t follow the crowd.

Or maybe the crowd just doesn’t follow them.

Shoot for the moon.

They set formidable but realistic goals: high enough so that they feel challenged, low enough so that they don’t feel like “chance played a part in their victory”. Except there’s a bit of chance in everything. You just don’t want to feel like chance and luck rule your life, which is not much of an American belief to begin with.

Nov 9, 2009

9 comments · Add Yours

Hi Justine :)
Thank you for the excellent post.
I found myself nodding as you went through the list.
Thanks again,


What I find interesting, though, is the relationship between creativity, the development of a rich inner life, and an unhappy childhood.

No worries. They’ve got medication for that now.


I’m glad it resonated. (And your blog reminded me to check out King’s latest.)


Kids will need it, as they continue to slash and burn the arts from the public schools.


So true–I can identify with much of this. Very uplifting, Justine. I needed that just now.


Awww. I am so glad.


I found your post marvelous and inspiring.



Thank you, Penny. I’m glad you’re here.


Hey, I clicked over here from a Michael Ellsberg post. Glad I came to it. Love your thoughts!!


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