Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Want vs. Need

In my first marketing class back in college we learned that marketing is about taking wants and turning them into perceived needs. I believe the quote was "Because we know that no one really needs three pairs of red shoes" to which I responded "Of course you do--flats, mid-heels, and high heels." Apparently, marketing had been very successful with me.

Then in one of my accounting classes, we talked about money management. In order to create and stick to a budget, you have to identify what your real needs are. You may really want something, but that doesn't mean you need it. In this case, need trumps want.

A few years after I was out of school, I read an article about managing stress. It stated that there are certain words that contribute to our feelings of stress. These include should, ought and need. Need as in "I need to write two chapters today." Instead, it's less stressful to think, "I want to write two chapters today." Only slightly because two chapters after a full day of work....

Anyway, I've been thinking a bit about want vs. need when it comes to my writing. Because I do feel a need to write. And I don't think that's a bad thing. As a matter of fact, I think it's something that is true for each and every one of the Rogue Pirates (of Snickerdoodle). [Aside: I'm listening to an old radio play on i-Tunes and it's about pirates--arrrr] This is something we have to do. But when I write in my morning pages that I need to write x amount, I do feel a tightening across my shoulders. If I write that I want to accomplish x, the tightness doesn't show up.

So, do you need to write? Do you want to write? Is there a difference? Do you think it would matter if you set goals as things you want to accomplish as opposed to need?


Shane said...

Brilliant. I'll have to try that and see how it works. I'm very good at stressing myself out. I've found a lack of goals and guidelines doesn't help, but that "must write x amount of time a day" or "must finish x pages by y date" doesn't really help with the creative flow.

Jenny said...

I've discovered that I need a certain level of desperation (stress) to write.

Ali helps with that. It's helpful to me to have someone saying two things at the same time:
"You have to do this."
"Because I really enjoy your writing and feel lost without it."

(Okay, so I'm filling in the second part but that's the way that Ali says it in my head...it's both stressful and complimentary)

-John said...

Balance, it's all about balance. There is a state the human body works optimally in, where there is a perfectly balanced amount of arousal of the fight/flight response while simultaneously feeling relaxed. Each person has a different mixture that works for them, which I suppose was the question in the first place. I've been working on better handling the stress from setting deadlines, without relaxing so much that I decide the deadline isn't a big deal after all.

Ali said...

Good question. Want to write, need to write. I have to say, I haven't put much time into thinking of it that way. It's mostly like my beading - just something I do, part of my self-definition. Not so much that I feel this pressing need to do it, more that I just do. I can't imagine not doing it.

Deadlines are good, and goals are good. When I make my lists of what I want to accomplish I can usually do it. However, if I miss a deadline, I don't stress. I'm a low-stress writer.