Why Do You Write?

I don’t actually want you to answer this question here, on my blog. I don’t need to know your answer to this question – but you need to know your answer.

Are you writing to find readers who will enjoy what you have written?

Or are you writing to sell books and make money?

These two reasons are not the only two that spur people on to write a book or a short story or a poem – but they’re usually the two that come up most often when writers consider why they write.

Neither are they mutually exclusive of each other. You might be writing for both reasons – to find readers who will then buy your book so you can make money. That’s okay, too.

I’m not trying to make any judgements here. What I want to say is that, if you are honest with yourself as to why you write, you may become more comfortable with the process and be able to just get on with the work of creating.

I stop and ask myself this question on a regular basis, especially when book sales are lagging (as they seem to have done throughout the publication periods of both my novel and novella). So I decide to let go of the money part of the answer and am satisfied when I hear that one more person has discovered my writing, or has recommended my novel to a friend, or makes a favourable comment about me on social media, or asks when the next book will be published. That goes a long way to making me realize that this, for me, finding new readers for my books, is the best reward for having put my words out there in public.

And while it might be nice to realize some remuneration for all the time and effort I put into honing my craft and producing my publications, the reality is that I will never make enough money to actually cover all the expenses of that. So I’ve decided to chill out, step back, and not concern myself with sales.

Besides, you just can’t put a price on receiving a positive review, especially when it comes from someone you don’t know. That, to me, is the icing on the writing cake! My books have touched someone enough that they want to tell me, and their friends, that they enjoyed them.

That’s why I write.

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22 responses

  1. […] wrote a similar blog post on July 9th, 2014, with the exact same title, but it seems like the right time to remind Authors of these […]

  2. Wow, I’ve asked myself this question a million times. There have been times I felt like no one was reading my books, or that they weren’t very good. But what it comes down to is this – I write because I love it. That’s reason enough for me. Great post!

    1. So glad you found this post, Tricia, and that it had an impact on you! That’s why I write!

  3. I love that Steve Martin quote. I have my own personal version which is “be good enough to ensure that nobody can give you any shit.” I write because I have to but if I’m going to write, I have to manage quality… somehow.

    Cheers

    MTM

  4. Hi Susan, I never had any doubt that I was writing simply for the pleasure it brought me. Additionally, I was motivated to write specifically about social work, to try and reflect aspects of the job as I saw, and see, it. I assumed that there was a limited market of readers desperate to know what a child welfare worker did. Even then, I only skimmed the surface of my understanding.

    As for reviews, many of mine have been verbal (not a useful marketing tool) from people I know who regularly say that they now understand much better what a social worker does.

    I hope I have written an entertaining and accessible book (though how entertaining such a book can be is questionable.)

    Good post. Sorry I ran on.

    1. Thanks, Bill! It’s always good to hear comments from other authors on their own experiences and thoughts.

  5. Great advice, Sue! It’s a very important question to ask to help you stay motivated.

    1. Thanks, Editor! Not only to stay motivated but also focused.

  6. I just love that icing on the writing cake – makes the angst of the process worthwhile.

    1. Goes well with coloured streamers on a bike’s handlebars, don’t you think, JP?

      1. I do! And icing tastes better too.

  7. That’s very profound and such a sage comment, Susan. I’m reading a few books at the moment, Island is one, but got to finish another review copy before I complete yours. I’m intrigued so far, it’s looking good.

    1. Thanks, roughseainthemed!

  8. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog….. An Author Promotions Enterprise! and commented:
    Time for a little reflection, being honest with yourself and learning how to CHILL 😀

  9. You could hang up your quill and get a job any time as a carpenter, Sue, because you keep hitting that nail square on the head. Build on!

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