Back from a very good workshop in New Hampshire! It provoked some interesting thoughts on motives and writing, some of which I may post here later. I realized that while I have discussed motives here, I haven't discussed (at least in any detail) how to measure them. So I'm going to post a few exercises here, freshly tested.
Since motives are nonconscious (below conscious awareness), you may wonder how you measure these things. There are two ways that work best. First and most accurate: Projective measures, which allow you to project your unconscious feelings and assumptions--like the Picture-Story Exercise, where you look at vague pictures and write whatever stories you want (also known as the TAT). Second, but easiest to use: patterns of your life, focusing on motive-related behaviors and thoughts. See more after the cut...
Motives have been described as "what you think about when you don't have to think about anything." In other words, since they are about what you enjoy, then your thoughts drift naturally into motive-related paths if all else is equal. If you want to try and measure your motives without using a formal measure, here is the first of three exercises you can try:
1. List what you like to do for fun, including writing, and why you like it, if possible.
In other words, if you like to golf, say, do you like it because (a) you like testing yourself against your handicap and bettering it, (b) it's fun to hang out with your friends, (c) I like trying to beat people, or (c) I like drinking beer and driving golf carts like a maniac? You can do the same behavior out of different motives (and vice versa).
If you list "reading," what genres do you like to read? Different motives relate to different genres.
One person in the workshop today said "I see a pattern here! And it's kind of depressing." No, not necessarily. Try not to over-interpret. The key here is to look for the pattern of what makes your activities fun. More later...