Why Do You Write?

writing craft

Post written by Katie Wall.

"Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway." —Earl Nightingale

Every time I read this quote I take a deep breath. I feel both hopeful and somber. Why? Because writing a book (for the majority of people) is a dream that takes a long time to come to fruition. I’ve already been working on my current adult fantasy WIP for over a year - and I’ve recently decided to rewrite my existing 7 chapters after a fabulous book coaching session with book-coach-in-training Samantha Skal. Granted, this time has included world-building as well as planning out multiple books, since my WIP will be the first book of a trilogy, which in turn is the first trilogy of three trilogies I’ve planned out in this world. But still: it’s been over a year and my manuscript is nowhere near complete.

When writers set out to write a book, they often don’t realize that this process involves more than simply writing words on a page. What else does it entail?

  • World-building
  • Character creation
  • Plotting (if you’re not a pantser!)
  • Drafting (writing the first draft)
  • Revising yourself
  • Hiring a professional to review your manuscript and make sure the foundations of your story are strong
  • More revising
  • Finding and working with beta readers
  • More revising
  • Hiring a professional to line edit your manuscript
  • Deciding on an avenue for publication

The list goes on! But depending on your publishing avenue, the final steps differ. I have a free e-book for you entitled “How to Choose the Best Publishing Avenue for Your Novel” that you can download here. In this resource I talk about how you can decide how to pursue publication and the steps involved with that.

As you can see, writing the actual manuscript is just one step in the long process of creating a quality novel. I know some authors who are able to write full time and just pound out book after book and publish them via self-publishing without ever having input from a professional. If you want to do that, it’s okay, but it really is true that getting input from other people can improve the quality of your book immensely. So make sure to budget time for that in your writing goals!

Speaking of writing goals, mine is to finish drafting my novel by the end of the year. I talk more about how to set writing goals (instead of random resolutions) in this blog post. I talk there about how it is important to understand our core motivations for writing, since that motivation will allow us to achieve our writing goals more easily than some arbitrary goal that we don’t feel deeply connected to.

Even if you don’t have a particular timeline or goal in mind for your writing, the length of the process from when you have an idea to when your book is finally out in the world can be discouraging. Finding the deep reason why you want to write this book will keep you going when it seems like your book will never be ready to get into readers’ hands.

Remember, the time will pass anyway. You can chase your dream, or you can just let life pass you by.

The same is true for our characters, right? They have dreams, hopes, and deep beliefs. We make them face obstacles and go through trials, but they persevere. Let’s also persevere in this journey to writing and publishing a book!

So you might be wondering what my reason is for writing my novel(s). I’m going to get vulnerable for a second and share:

I want to write my MC’s story because I need to hope that it is true that even if we are not accepted by our family or community that we are still good, valuable, and worthwhile and will ultimately find a place where we can be accepted for who we really are… as well as finding self-acceptance and a home within ourselves.

I have struggled with rejection on various levels throughout my life and often have a hard time believing that I am worthy (of others’ time/help, of doing the things I really want to do, etc.) and good enough as I am (that I don’t need to do anything to merit love or acceptance). I am my harshest critic and often hold unattainable standards or goals for myself because I feel that if I can accomplish xyz then I will be enough. I want to explore these feelings within myself by exploring them through my MC’s experiences and perspective. I am also wondering if writing through my MC’s character arc will help heal some of my own wounds as I allow myself to unpack and examine the emotions I often keep walled up for self-preservation’s sake.

I wish I had read a book as a teenager with themes like this that was powerful enough to fight against the voices that were telling me I was not good enough.

There you have it; that’s my deep reason for writing. What’s yours?

Writing prompt:

Reflect on your reason for writing. Are you writing…

  • To prove to yourself that you can?
  • To achieve a lifelong dream?
  • To make it rich?
  • To tell this story that won’t leave you alone? (So you can sleep at night?)

Now reflect beyond that for a minute. What is your deep motivation or longing behind this surface reason for writing a book? If you achieve your goal and finish your book, what does that prove about you? Why does this matter so much to you? What’s at the heart of it?

Grab a piece of paper and set a timer for 3 minutes. Jot down every reason that comes to mind for why you write.

Now get up and walk around for a few minutes (raid the fridge, get a glass of water, pet your cat…). Just take a quick break to clear your head and get some mental space.

Come back and review your list. What is the top reason that jumps out at you? Or the top two or three? These are the reasons you feel at your core, the ones that you might be too afraid to admit to other people because it feels too vulnerable.

That is the core of why you write.

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