Pushing Through For Others

Open a book and turn a couple pages in, past the title page, past the copyright information, to the dedication. It says something along the lines of, “For my dearest son, Alexander, for whom the world is worth saving,” which is kind of remarkable when you think about it. The title page is a publishing industry standard and the copyright page is a legal requirement, but that every published author should individually feel compelled to dedicate every book to someone is not a given.

Where is the causation, though? Is the norm within the writing community so powerful that every author makes an effort to find someone to honor before publishing? Or are authors who have someone they want to honor more likely to finish their books and get them published, or even start them in the first place?

So, Which One is It?

Writing a book is no mean feat. I’ve never done it, and I consider myself a writer. I’m going to take the sentimental position that writing for someone makes one much more likely to persevere in a writing project – and obviously that applies not only to books and dedications but to anything you want to do for a person you care about and in any way.

It is easy to be motivated at first for the basic social desires of prestige, wealth, and sex, but it’s amazing how little determination these things give us in the face of adversity. Nobody writes that last three hundred pages of their science fiction novel because they think it will give them any of those things. And while they may start the novel because they have a wild imagination and enjoy thinking about space ships and nuclear holocausts, that stops being fun around page twenty. Wanting to pay the rent can keep you working for about a week, but if you’re living hand-to-mouth you’re probably not going to take a chance on a novel anyways.

Other things are good motivators in the short term. Fear, hunger, and even the urge to urinate can give you twenty seconds of reckless desire if something is in the way of relieving those arousal states, but they’re not going to keep you hustling at something day in and day out for a year.

How to Start

Think about something you want to do and ask yourself who it would benefit. If it’s just for yourself, you may find yourself struggling to stay motivated on the project when things get rough.

Try thinking of something you can do for another person, and not just something small. If you want to earn money, think of how you would use that money to benefit – in a real way, not just by buying gifts – the people you care about most.

Understanding your motivations and framing your goals in terms of altruism can help make them a reality. It’s the theory behind AA and other addiction programs and it’s unbelievably powerful.


I'm feeling the burn from overdoing my workout last weekend. Possibly tendonitis. Take it easy, folks. There's no rush to get where you're going.