One of the common questions a writer gets is: why do you write?
It's not just a valid question-- it's one every writer has to work out. The fact is, writing is time consuming. If you write short, nonfiction pieces, you can probably make a decent living off of doing that. "For the money" is definitely a good answer for someone doing that.
But a novelist? Unless you are famous already, your chances of making good money from it is very low. It doesn't matter if you're good at writing. What really matters is being good at marketing. In fact, if you're doing it for money, people will tell you to research the markets before you even start writing, because you have to decide not what story to tell but what story will sell. Fame is at least as long a shot as money. If you want fame, you might do better creating a YouTube show because it asks people to invest less time to consume your product.
Other people will tell you it's a compulsion. They need to put down the words to get it out of their system. It sounds good. It suggests the story is semi-autobiographical, something that has deep meaning to them and may reveal their soul. But a lot of people say it. I don't know how common a real sense of compulsion is, and it sounds pretty awful to experience. While I am regularly drawn to write, I can easily opt to keep my ideas to myself, and, in fact, it takes discipline for me to keep up the daily effort. I can daydream in my head without anything like the time cost of putting it into words.
So what motivates me? I want to make readers happy. Yes, they may experience some fear or have their heartstrings pulled, but overall, my novels will make you laugh, have a vicarious experience of friendship, the satisfaction of resolutions... I want people to feel good and have a chance to recover from a world that is plenty stressful.
That's all. I'm donating books to libraries. I'm willing to give free copies to get reviews. But it's frustrating because it is very, very hard to reach a larger audience. What would you recommend for getting the word out about my books?