Why Do You Write?

 

by Kate Colby

 

If you’re reading this, I assume you want to be or already are a writer. I also assume that there’s a decent chance you want to be a full-time author. So, if that’s you, let me ask you two difficult questions: Why do you write? And why do you want to be a full-time author, when there are hundreds of easier career options?

Now, your gut instinct is probably something like, “Come on, Kate! Writing is my life. Those questions are so easy!”

But do me a favor and really think about it. I’ll give you a personal anecdote while you ponder your own situation …

After my recent move from New Haven to the Bay Area, I’ve had a difficult time getting back in my creative groove. I have a lot of perfectly valid excuses: organizing the new place, adjusting to a new work and household routine, exploring new shops and landmarks, to name a few. But, I think I finally understand the real issue.

Whenever I meet new people, I introduce myself as a writer. I include my novelist side, but I always admit, with a twinge of unnecessary shame, that my books don’t pay the bills. I’m “really” a copywriter for a wine marketing company (which has actually helped my fiction writing). It sounds super-sexy on paper, and while most of the time I just stare at a computer screen like every other office worker, it is a great job. Though I’m still the lowest rung on the company ladder, I could make copywriting/marketing a long-term career. And I think it would make me happy.

It would be SO. MUCH. EASIER. to just let go of my author ambitions and relax into the 9-to-5 life. I’m NOT saying every 9-to-5 job is easy, and I’m definitely challenged at my work, but giving up the author stuff would relieve me of several challenges. I could stop spending nights and weekends at the computer. I could stop heaping guilt on myself when I don’t meet my creative goals. I could stop spending hard-earned, harder-saved money on editing, cover designs, and marketing expenses. I could stop all the other nuisances of indie authorship and still call myself a professional writer.

Back to you: your situation is obviously much different from mine. Maybe you’re working a job you loathe. Maybe you have tons of extra money to shower on self-publishing. Maybe you view writing solely as a career and aren’t bothered by any of the emotional, passionate aspects.

Still, I ask again: Why do you write? And why do you want to be a full-time author?

(If you’re a fan of the Sterling & Stone trio, you can probably guess that I’m a big believer in Sean’s “Know Your Why” mantra, which this insightful article discusses more eloquently than I can.)

While contemplating this question, I remembered a blog post I wrote over two years ago. It lists the reasons why I write, along with some great additions from fellow writers in the comments. They all still hold true, but they don’t answer why I want to write fiction professionally and not just as a hobby.

After giving it some careful thought and seriously evaluating my larger personal/life goals, here are a few of my reasons:

Writing is my greatest passion.
Writing is my most employable skill.
Creative satisfaction means more to me than conventional success.
I want to be my own boss and set my own working hours.
I want the freedom to vacation when and how I choose.
I want to work be able to work from anywhere in the world.
I don’t want to regularly manage other people.
I don’t want to give up my dream to help someone else achieve theirs.
I love storytelling.
I want the opportunity to make my daily work meaningful and valuable.
I want to entertain, inform, and educate others.
I want to make a difference in the world and provide a source of escape for others.

Conclusion? Being a full-time writer both satisfies my creative passions and provides several practical benefits that “regular” jobs cannot.

If you’re in a similar situation to me (and I know at least one of my friends reading this is), do yourself a favor and ask these questions. You might realize that writing is just a hobby for you — and that is 100% awesome. Or (more likely, I bet), you’ll realize that full-time authorship is really the career you want. If that’s the case, you’ll be armed with a list of reasons to keep you motivated when the going gets tough. And trust me, it will get tough.

But, if you’ve made it all the way to the end of this post, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s also wholly, completely, utterly worth it.

Alternately titled “Why Do You Write? (An Idea Revisited Two Years Later).”

 

 

Guest post contributed by Kate M. Colby. Kate is a writer of multi-genre fiction and creative nonfiction as well as a writing-craft blogger. Kate graduated summa cum laude from Baker University with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, Creative Writing, and Sociology.

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14 thoughts on “Why Do You Write?”

  1. I just have to say this: goals and creativity go nowhere together. They are mortal enemies, if you were to ask me. I say this only because (though not yet published….yet!) I consider my slovenly slacker self a serious writer. I believe that the definition of “serious writer” got perverted along the way somehow and strung up on a noose with “goals/goal-setting”!

    I’m also a painter (canvas not walls) and am the same way with painting – I have zero goals! I feel that goals push one from complacency to action, true enough, but also can stifle creativity into a scheduled drab existence.

    Just my two cents. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Since you asked…

    I’m “retired,” that is, I no longer work for pay. I’m not rich. I don’t have a McMansion and bazzilions of dollars of investments. My wife and I live on our social security and a tiny bit of interest on our savings accounts.

    Why do I write? I’ve been a writer since high school, lo these 55 years ago. I’ve even been an author a few times, but writing has never been my profession (I’ve never had a career.).

    I write as a means of communication, to myself and to others.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I write to think and understand myself. I write to explore my imagination and expand my creativity. I write to tell stories that result from my explorations. I write because I admire writers’ whose stories inspired and entertained me. I write to escape and to join, to give me structure, and to free myself. I write because I expect it and others expect it, and I write because I’m afraid not to write, because it helps define who I am. I write because it’s fun and satisfying to put stories on paper from my thoughts.

    I write because I wonder.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I took this quote from your post “It would be SO. MUCH. EASIER. to just let go of my author ambitions and relax into the 9-to-5 life”. If I had a dollar for every time I thought or said this to myself, I would have enough money to work from home as a full-time novelist. An excellent article, I will definitely share 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Why do we write? I’m guessing there are as nearly as many answers as there are writers.
    I write because there are these whole clutch of busy ideas in my head which will not let me have any peace until they are out in readable format. Whether anyone reads them is of course, not up to me.
    I will write though.
    PS: This sort of pertinent question has to be reblogged.

    Like

  6. “I don’t want to regularly manage other people.
    I don’t want to give up my dream to help someone else achieve theirs.”

    I write because I fully agree with the two statements above. I’ve been doing so for many years as a teacher to adults and since I couldn’t, and still can’t see any appreciation from their side I decided to finally pursue my dreams.

    Writing is my therapy. It helped me go through different stages of my life. Thanks to writing I learnt a lot about myself. And still, it’s so rewarding to see that others can benefit from my experiences, too!

    Thanks for this post! ❤

    Like

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