The hierarchy of needs

motivation Feb 16, 2022

Writers are (or should be) obsessive students of human motivation. When we craft a tale, we’re always looking at our characters’ conscious and unconscious motives. We devise whole plots out of the reasons our characters do or fail to do things (I’m looking at you, Hamlet). And we draw powerful forces of opposition from the characters whose motives collide with our hero’s.

Which brings us to the the topic of this week’s livestream: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a useful and enduring psychological theory about what motivates humans to do the things we do, value the things we value, choose our priorities, and define our vision of “success.”

What’s at the pinnacle of our personal hierarchy? Is it relationships? Self-fulfillment? Prestige and achievement? Or are we mostly just trying to survive?

Abraham Maslow’s model of human motivation is a fascinating topic in its own right, but for us storytellers it’s pure gold. This week, let’s explore how this intriguing theory can deepen characterization and sharpen our storytelling. It might even help us understand ourselves better, too.

My weekly livestream about story structure, writing craft, and the mindset of the working writer happens on Wednesdays at 1 PM Pacific on YouTube. Come live and participate! Or catch the replays on YouTube, or here on the blog.

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