In order to understand factors that encourage or discourage adolescents' participation in school writing classes and influence their motivation to become skilled writers, we interviewed high school students about their writing experiences, goals, and processes and analyzed their statements for patterns of goal pursuit. Nineteen students of varying achievement levels and classroom placements (8 boys and 11 girls, 6 African American and 13 European American) who had been previously interviewed in fifth and sixth grades were interviewed again in the tenth grade. Goals arising from developmental and personal life issues were central to these adolescent writers, whose writing motivation was heavily influenced by the extent to which they perceived they were encouraged to write authentic personal texts whose messages were respected by caring teachers. The low achieving and alienated students whose writing motivation had declined from earlier years did not now believe they received respect for their ideas, but that their teacher was interested only in their texts' basic organization and display of proper grammatical conventions. Methods for teaching writing that enlist and honor the personal goals of adolescents and support their motivation to write are described.