Ten Reasons To Keep Writing


I love making up stories. I love sharing them. All of the writers here on Magical Words feel the same way. But every now and then, the actual writing-them-down part becomes tiring. I’ve worked so long and there’s still so far to go. Discouragement tickles at the back of my thoughts, and I start to wonder why I’m doing this. There’s no guarantee my work will sell, no assurance that anyone will want to read it. Maybe all those people who said they liked the book were just being nice. Oh no, what if my publisher was just being nice by buying the first book? What’ll I do?? Wouldn’t it be simpler to go out and get an ordinary job, one that hands me a paycheck every two weeks and gives me weekends off? Those thoughts usually pop up when I’m feeling rushed about a deadline, insecure about my story or worried about bills. They’re compelling thoughts, the kind that could send me rushing out of the house to try and find a job, any job, even one that would ultimately deaden my brain. That’s a dangerous road to wander. So I’ve made myself a list of reasons to keep writing.

1. I need a reasonable excuse for spending money to go to cons. They’re expensive propositions, cons. The hotel room, and food in restaurants every night, and the travel costs to get there. (I’m not even going to talk about what I might spend in the dealer room.) There are fans who go to six or seven (or more) each year and I’m fascinated that they have the kind of money to do such a thing. Maybe I need to find out what they are doing for a living…

2. All those characters who’ve taken up residence in my head just won’t settle down until I let them have their say. It’s enough to bring on an epic headache.

3. I loved the feeling of seeing my name on the cover of a book, and I want to feel that again. The day my editor sent me three copies of my book ahead of the pub date, I wobbled between tears and maniacal giggles all that afternoon. Maybe that’s a little selfish, but we’re allowed to have those feelings, too.

4. No time clock, no overtime, and my boss even lets me take a nap if I have a headache from all those characters stomping around in there.

5. I can spend the whole day in a world I created, where everyone does what I say. Usually.

6. This is the easiest way to meet writers I admire. Walk up and introduce myself as I’myourgreatestfanOMGIjustloveyoupleasesignmyleftarm, and watch him run in the other direction. That tends to freak out even the most jaded reality show celebrity. But walk up to my favorite writer as I’myourgreatestfanOMGIjustloveyoupleasesignmyleftarmI’mawritertoo and…okay, I need to work on that one a little longer.

7. I can buy books and call it market research. I have to know what the market’s trending toward, right? And I don’t want to accidentally write what someone else already did.

8. I don’t have to follow a dress code. Some days I don’t even put on shoes.

9. People are waiting on the next book. They tell me so. Frequently. Which is very cool, and makes me want to type faster. There may even be cake for me when I finish this one.

10. I grew up loving books as if they were my friends. I started writing because I hoped to someday make a reader feel the way the writers of my childhood made me feel. When someone tells me how much she enjoyed my story, I know I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.

Why are you writing?


24 comments to Ten Reasons To Keep Writing

  • Those are some good reasons to write-I particularly like the one about paying for cons.

    I write because I’ve got stories that need to be told, and if I don’t tell them, nobody will. Every story deserves to be heard, and every world deserves to be seen.

    Thanks for the great post.

  • Mikaela

    I write because I have stories to tell. And, well, once you have started it is hard to stop :).

  • Wonderful post! One of the first reasons I started writing was similar to your last one – I grew up devouring any book I could get my hands on and loved every word – and I think it would be fantastic to be the writer who made other readers feel that way.

    But after I started writing, lots of other reasons began to push forward. After going along on autopilot for years, I wanted to be challenged and prove to myself and my family and others that I could do and be more than I was at that time. I also wanted to be creative again and use it to make sense of my world.

    I’m so glad you posted this today Misty. I’ve been in a slump and I guess I just needed to remember my motivations for writing.

  • 1 – I have so many stories constantly popping into my head that it’d be a waste not to tell them.

    2 – There are times when a person just knows, when every circumstance pushes them toward one thing they are meant to do with their lives. I am meant to be a writer. It’d be a shame to ignore the calling.

    3 – I want to be able to go into a store and see my name on the shelf, point to it and say, “I wrote that.”

    4 – Going to career day with our daughter will be much more fun – they still do that in school, don’t they?

    5 – We need to think about putting money away for our daughter’s future so that she can be able to follow whatever dream she’ll want to chase and the extra cash will help to do that.

    6 – Also wouldn’t mind being able to spring for a vacation or convention now and again. I miss conventions…

    7 – Also wouldn’t mind being able to get a second car or maybe help deal with the possibility of buying a house instead of renting one.

    8 – I have to contribute to someone else’s enjoyment of reading just as my favorite authors did for me.

    9 – If I don’t write I get irritable.

    10 – I need to vindicate the beliefs of all those who said I could do it and that I should become a writer…and also thumb my nose at any of the dissenters who didn’t think I could. 😉

  • Hepseba ALHH

    1 – I want to share my brain…and find out what-all’s in there.
    2 – I love learning new things, and working on story ideas helps focus me back to that.

  • Why am I writing? I didn’t know I had a choice… 🙂

  • MIsty, I will bring you CAKE if you finish Kestral Two!
    And I promist NOT to bake it myself!
    Forgot to add — Why do I write?
    It’s a BAD habbit!

  • This might be more a reason why I edit and seek publication but:

    I want my name on books

    I want people to read my stuff. If I write, that might happen. If I never write, then I know it will never happen.

    It’s really fun when reality sucks (or even when everything’s great) to just vanish for a bit in my own world. Sometimes I like the people there better than the ones here. (At least I understand the villains.)

  • Young_Writer

    I write because it’s fun seeing characters in my mind playing like a movie. I just have to write it down. And when I tell people I’m working on my fifth novel- havenn’t sent any out yet, though- their mouths always drop. It’s satifying.

  • *Doing the Cake Dance while she types* My agent tempted me yesterday with the promise of rum cake, a cake that she describes as requiring one cup of rum but mysteriously always ending up with a whole bottle empty. Yummmmm….

  • Ryl

    Misty, numbers 2 [my characters wake me up with their non-stop noise, and will not leave me be until I’ve listened to each of them] and 5 [the universe I’ve tinkered together for them keeps pulling me back in] sing the loudest to me.

    And what A.J. said,…
    … especially what A.J. said.

  • Beatriz

    ~dangles red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting in front of Misty~

  • I got started writing because there was this itch that needed to be scratched and the only way to scratch it was to start typing. Then there came a story that I wanted to read that I couldn’t find anywhere but in my own head. Now I want to bring excitement and adventure to readers, the way that other authors have done for me in the past. Next I’d like to get a little compensation for all the hours I’ve spent working on this darn thing…

  • I don’t know why I started, but I’m too stubborn to quit.

  • QUOTE: My agent tempted me yesterday with the promise of rum cake, a cake that she describes as requiring one cup of rum

    Ahh, I to have a drunken rum cake. It a box mix, but you replace the water with rum and also make a glaze with rum that soaks into the cake. It’s best made with Bacardi 151. 😉

  • And the typos abound… Sheesh, I must be tired!

  • R.O. Kashmir

    1. My day job makes me do it. It took a chunk of my health 15 years ago (no cake for me, I’m allergic now) which chased me inside from all those physical things I used to do to keep my sanity. So I started writing to keep from becoming a raving lunatic. If I stopped writing now I’d probably be a basket case within a month.

    2. Just like Misty, “All those characters who’ve taken up residence in my head just won’t settle down until I let them” out. Does anyone else have those really weird ones? Like the schizophrenic, necrophiliac, zombie hunting wolfman? Or the catgirls? Sometimes the yowling in there seems enough to wake the dead.

    3. I’ve got people telling me I need to stop being an amateur and write professionally. Thus my joy in finding MW.

    4. My ego wants to walk in a book store and see books that I wrote on the shelves.

  • Tom G

    Number 10 is the main reason I write and want to be published.

    I started writing because I’d read all my favorite writers stuff, and got bored waiting for more, AND because no one was writing exactly like I wanted them. And I had a headful of disjointed stories, scenes, characters jostling crazily in my head. Writing it all down is the only way to get those thoughts organized.

    Oh, epiphany! I write to organize my thoughts!

  • mudepoz

    I write for myself. The ideas perk around while working with pickled dead things and watering greenhouses (yes, I am fortunate to work in a job I adore because it is as strange as I am). I’m a technical writer, so it draws me away from the tedium of writing cookbook biology labs. Most importantly, it gives me a chance to tell my stories to the computer instead of freaking out my husband. The computer doesn’t care if the story is good, bad or in middling. Best, when I see a major gaffe in a book that seems so obvious to me, I can fix it in my own story.

    Besides, it probably keeps me from being just another Wisconsin Mass Murderer. My job would let me make pieces parts of people, pickle them and let my students dissect them. Best, it would let me stretch my budget. See, I can be very scary.

  • Misty,

    This was great.

    My list:

    1. These stories build up in my head, so I need to write them down to clear my brain.

    2. When I write about an adventure, I get to go on it, too. (In my head. I don’t even have to take drugs or pay travel fees!)

    3. I’ve devoted so much time to learning about how to tell a story properly that at this point, I hope that I’m far enough down the tunnel that I might as well try to get published. There’s no turning back now, no matter how long this tunnel turns out to be.

    4. As you said, it will *totally* justify my writing expenses. I just found out this year that in Canada and the U.S. you can write off cons on your taxes, even if you’re not published!

    5. My cats would much prefer it if I didn’t leave the house, so I can pet them as I write.

    6. I can set my own hours. And I’m a total night owl when I’m off from work.

    7. I can spend time Googling weird facts and cool jewlery and clothes

    8. I’m an introvert, but I can also be an extrovert. Writing lets me do both.

    9. I can’t stop myself. Might as well enjoy the ride!

  • I think Mikaela’s got the really important part down. No matter how awesome a story may seem in your head, it’s not going to be its best until you go through the trials and tribulations of getting it down on paper. A story is just some pretty colors without a concrete form, and that’s why I write mine down, to see them in their full glory.

    Of course I would like to be published and have praise heaped upon me for my brilliance, and make the New York Times Bestseller list, and live off my work, and have Peter Jackson–or M. Night Shyamalan on a good day–direct the movie adaption, starring Johnny Depp and Keira Knightley (and not because I liked them in PotC)–or Jessica Alba if it’s dark sci-fi. But that’s all secondary–and a damn sight more unlikely. 🙁

    If I throw in Misty’s #10 there, I think that about covers the principle reasons.

  • i write because it takes me to a focused place where i am completely in my own head and time passes unnoticed.

  • So, I have to spread the news everywhere. The RPG supplement I wrote, Arrgh! Thar Be Zombies! went live in PDF form at Drivethrurpg.com and over on RPGnow. Been waiting for maybe 3 years or so for it to hit shelves and in the next couple weeks it will! WOOT!