Staring at that white screen on the computer can be somewhat mesmerizing and yet frustrating at the same time. However when peering at that blank computer screen, it must be done with eagerness of mind—not fearfulness of heart.
We should approach those white spaces with the motivation that drives pen to paper. From where does the motivation come? This motivation is derived from purpose. Many authors have various reasons for writing. Everything from writing as a therapeutic way of self-discovery to baring one’s very soul to save another. Have you found your purpose of motivation? Let me give you a little hint. Your purpose can be found in the PIE.
Persuade, Inform and Entertain.
However, these reasons are called the author’s purpose. And this purpose hinges on his/her perspective. To subjugate this purpose writers may choose various writing formats, genres and conversational languages. At the cornerstone of these purposes you will always find three building blocks. Persuade, Inform and Entertain. Better known as PIE.
When writing you should ask yourself this question: Am I writing to persuade, inform or entertain the reader? Thus building your essay, book or movie script on the right foundation.
- Persuade – Are you trying to change the reader’s mind about something? To think or believe a certain way or take action?
- Inform – Are you trying to share factual information with the reader about people, dates, historical events and such?
- Entertain – Are you telling a story to the reader in an interesting way to stir their emotions through your writing?
From his 1946 essay “Why I Write” (public library), literary legend Eric Arthur Blair, better known as George Orwell, writes, “Putting aside the need to earn a living, I think there are four great motives for writing, at any rate for writing prose. They exist in different degrees in every writer, and in any one writer the proportions will vary from time to time, according to the atmosphere in which he is living. They are:
“…the whole top crust of humanity“
(i) Sheer egoism. Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc., etc. It is humbug to pretend this is not a motive, and a strong one. Writers share this characteristic with scientists, artists, politicians, lawyers, soldiers, successful businessmen—in short, with the whole top crust of humanity. The great mass of human beings are not acutely selfish. After the age of about thirty they almost abandon the sense of being individuals at all—and live chiefly for others, or are simply smothered under drudgery. But there is also the minority of gifted, willful people who are determined to live their own lives to the end, and writers belong in this class. Serious writers, I should say, are on the whole more vain and self-centered than journalists, though less interested in money.
The aesthetic motive is very feeble…
(ii) Aesthetic enthusiasm. Perception of beauty in the external world, or, on the other hand, in words and their right arrangement. Pleasure in the impact of one sound on another, in the firmness of good prose or the rhythm of a good story. Desire to share an experience which one feels is valuable and ought not to be missed. The aesthetic motive is very feeble in a lot of writers, but even a pamphleteer or writer of textbooks will have pet words and phrases which appeal to him for non-utilitarian reasons; or he may feel strongly about typography, width of margins, etc. Above the level of a railway guide, no book is quite free from aesthetic considerations.
(iii) Historical impulse. Desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity.
iv) Political Purpose. Using the word ‘political’ in the widest possible sense. Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other people’s idea of the kind of society that they should strive after. Once again, no book is genuinely free from political bias. The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.
It can be seen how these various impulses must war against one another, and how they must fluctuate from person to person and from time to time.”
And if you were sincerely paying attention you will notice Mr. Orwell gave you PIE in reverse. Sheer Egoism and Aesthetic enthusiasm are geared toward Entertain. Historical impulse is to Inform and Political purpose, no matter how wide or narrow the sense, lends to Persuade.
Just remember when you begin filling those white spaces be sure your literary pan has the right ingredients in that PIE.
Extracted from Why I Write by George Orwell.
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