July 31, 2013

Writer Needs

By Cindy Keen Reynders

In 1943, Abraham Maslow developed a hierarchy of needs. These are theories about mental health and human potential. His philosophy suggests that once people have met the basic needs of shelter, food, etc., they branch out to connect with others and accomplish in different areas. For fun, I translated those five levels of growth progression into what we need as writers.

In order to survive, Maslow said people need to have basic needs met such as food, water, sleep and air. Writers first need something to write with; paper and pencil, typewriter or computer so we can record our stories.

Next Maslow said people need safety, security and shelter. Some of us may have jobs to enable us to buy food and clothes, to maintain our homes and cars and to afford health insurance. Or we may be retired and have a steady pension to cover basics. Possibly we have significant others who provide financial stability. Here's a fun possibility, maybe we inherited wealth or won the lottery, making us independently wealthy. I think writers also need a dedicated area to write in, such as a desk in the corner of the family room, a place at the kitchen table or maybe even their own office.

Maslow said social needs aren't as necessary as the physiological and security needs. However, once the first two needs are fulfilled, people begin to reach out for friendship, companionship and acceptance. For writers, I would say that at this stage, we begin to connect through social networking sites dedicated to writing or we begin to join writers groups and attend meetings, attend writer’s conferences and possibly join critique groups so we can receive feedback, recognition and acceptance as recorders of the written word.

Once the first three needs are satisfied, Maslow found that people needed to validate themselves by building their self-esteem. For writers, at this point, we may feel confident enough in our abilities that we begin to submit our work to writers’ contests where we will hopefully receive enough positive feedback to improve our scores, enabling us to eventually place in a contest or possibly even win. At this point, writers are probably confident enough to submit their work to publishers, weathering the rejections, until eventually pieces begin to sell.

At the top tier of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, this level happens when people are self-aware, concerned with personal growth, less concerned with the opinions of others and interested in fulfilling their potential. For writers, this is where the rubber really hits the road and we begin to spread our wings. We write to please our own muses, not someone else's muse. We challenge the boundaries of our imaginations, we take on more difficult plots and our characters become deeper. We have found our voices, and we are comfortable with our writing skills and what we know about the craft. This is where our writing seems to take on a life of its own. By the time we've reached the fifth level, we are only limited by our own imaginations. In essence, we strap on wings and let our writing soar. As long as we keep our eyes on the finish line, we have nowhere to go but up.

Maslow's theory states that once our basic needs are met, we have an innate need to succeed and accomplish things. What are you striving for? What do you need to make it happen?

Cindy was born in Portland, Oregon and has lived all over the United States and also in Japan. She has visited Canada, the Philippines, the Caribbean, Samoa and New Zealand. Her Saucy Lucy series books are The Saucy Lucy MurdersPaws-itively Guilty and A Killer Slice. She also writes an urban fantasy line for Angelic Knight Press, and the first book is titled, The Seven-Year Witch. Cindy has won or placed in different writing contests. She has also written for and edited many newsletters. Additionally, she has sold several non-fiction magazine articles to "True West" and "Wild West." Cindy lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming with her husband Rich. She works as Laramie County School District 1's marketing specialist and writes feature articles for the Public Schools Chronicle."--Amazon Her website is and from her website, you can also link to her blog or visit her on Facebook. Her latest book is A Witch at Midnight,.

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