Why You Write is as Important as What You Write

Have you ever asked yourself why you’re writing? I’ve been seriously pursuing writing since about 2014, and there are days when this question niggles the back of my mind. I have ridden a roller coaster of emotions where my writing is concerned, changed my goals many times, sought and rejected help, entertained quitting altogether, searched my heart to determine why I tortured myself so, and kept writing all along.

Here’s what I’ve discovered.

Show me the money

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to earn money for my writing, and there was a time when I struggled with this even though I was able to approach my writing leisurely because my husband’s salary was more than sufficient. I didn’t have to panic that I needed to produce a living wage and therefore churn out garbage just to make some cash.

I examined the root of my overwhelming desire to make lots of money from writing, and I realized that an unrealistic dream was being sold to writers. It’s the one in which I fantasized being the next J.K. Rowling or Stephen King, dreamt about large advances and/or Hollywood knocking on my door with movie deals, and imagined that I’d be the next newly discovered writing sensation.

These types of dreams are nice, but they are the exception rather than the rule, and you need a stronger reason for writing. This isn’t compromising or settling. It’s being mature enough to understand that money alone is poor motivation for writing. I urge caution with your writing dreams and stress learning the satisfaction that comes from a job well done.

Keep in mind that if you want writing to be your only career, you’re most likely going to need another source of income until you reach your writing-for-money goal. I highly recommend starting while you’re young if you want writing to be your only career. However, don’t be discouraged if you waited until you were older. There are many circumstances that may necessitate waiting, but there are also some advantages such as wisdom, experience, and more time.

If, one day, you find yourself abundantly blessed by earning money for your writing, exercise prudence on where you allow that money to take you. I suggest investing it back into your writing and/or assisting others with their writing.

Fame is a vapor

Fame is money’s wily cousin who can lead to dangers because fame plays into one’s ego. I re-examined my objective of simply writing for the thrill of adoring fans or seeing my name on the cover of my book. This doesn’t mean that I’m against a solid fan base for a well-written book, but should I attain this level of success for my writing, I will maintain professional boundaries to ensure that my writing doesn’t succumb to my need for celebrity.

I strongly urge you to not waste your writing potential on fame. Rather, live your writing potential to its fullest. Find a method whereby you can maintain humility and focus on your craft. Again, investing in others, especially fellow writers, with your time and expertise is a great way to achieve this.

Just for the joy of it

As hard as writing is sometimes, there is a joy that comes from it. You know that moment I’m talking about, when the words are pouring out of you, and you can’t get them down fast enough? This is why I write.

I won’t pretend that I haven’t had to work for these moments, but they’re worth it because writing is a deeply satisfying way to express myself. Every word can be carefully placed and edited to perfection.

There are times I write with the intention of no one ever reading it. It’s quite liberating, and the privacy it affords removes all anxieties and invigorates my soul. It is perfectly acceptable to save my writing for me alone.

But the best lesson I learned was to write without the expectation of making any money. The willingness to share my writing without compensation as the goal produces some of my best stuff, and the joy I experience in doing so let’s me know how far I’ve come on my writing journey.

Answer the question, please

While there is more I could say on the topic of why I write, my reasons would start to overlap. What I’ve presented here are the highlights of my writing journey. Now it’s your turn to share.

So, tell me. Why are you writing?

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