Why do we write?
I’ve seen this question posed on a number of blogs.
Author Jody Hedlund listed four reasons we write in her post “WHY Do Writers Do It?”
- There’s always the chance we can make it big.
- We long to communicate what’s inside us with others.
- Writing feeds our souls.
- The love of writing consumes us.
I read the comments on Jody’s post with interest. Based upon the responses, her list could be turned on its head. One word summarized the responses: love.
- We love the actual process of writing, the weaving of words to express ourselves.
- We love how writing makes us feel, the sense of wholeness it brings.
- We love the thought that our writing could bring others enjoyment.
- We love the idea of seeing our work published one day.
Almost without exception, the possibility of making it big wasn’t a motivating factor. Although many want to see their name on a book cover or in a byline, monetary gain wasn’t a driving force either. From what I saw, self-fulfillment and realization of a dream were far more important motivations.
Why I Write
I read Jody’s post that day but didn’t leave a comment. I needed time to ponder the question. Why do I write?
My reasons are in keeping with those of the writers who responded to Jody’s question.
- I love the actual process of putting words on page or screen. My mom remembers me being enamored with writing as early as age seven.
- I love the way I feel when I’m writing. I experience joy, wholeness, and deep satisfaction. Writing, while work at times, is a labor of love.
- I love the thought that the stories I write and the characters I’ve created might bring enjoyment to those who read them. While my primary goal is to entertain, I like thinking that the challenges my characters overcome and the lessons they learn might help someone in a similar situation.
I don’t write because I harbor dreams of getting rich. It’s never been about the money for me. This fact was made clear this past Wednesday when I went to the post office and found a check from Barbour Publishing in my box.
I squealed, startling an older gentleman, the one who was kind enough to snap this photo for me. My joy, though, wasn’t due to the actual amount. While Barbour was generous, the reality is that when I divide the dollar value by the hours I’ve invested in my writing career to this point, I’m making less than the minimum wage I earned as a teen back in the seventies.
The payment made me happy for three reasons:
- A highly respected publishing house believes in me and is willing to make an investment in me, which is tremendous affirmation.
- My awesome agent finally received some payment for the hard work she’s done on my behalf.
- And the most important . . . I was able to hand that check to Gwynly, the dear man who has supported me every step of the way, covering my expenses for five years with not a word of complaint. Knowing I’m finally able to help out makes me happy.
I wrestled with whether or not to mention my advance, but I know there are those who might wonder about the financial aspect of my journey, so I chose to include this step. Another reason I decided to mention the advance is that I’ve already had some non-writer friends make comments about me being rich now, which makes me stifle a laugh. As those of us familiar with the publishing industry know, most writers don’t receive huge advances and fat royalty checks. There’s a reason for the counsel often heard in writing circles: Don’t quit your day job?
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I’d like to hear why you write. Are your reasons similar to those listed above?
Did you know that most, if not all of a debut author’s advance goes to cover expenses and finance her marketing and promotion efforts, which will be true in my case?
Do you have questions about an advance on royalties? If so, feel free to ask. Since I’m under contract, I’m not at liberty to reveal details, but I’ll answer the questions I can.