Why Do You Want to Write?

One of the first things I ask clients when we’re getting to know each other is why it is that they want to write.

Why Do you Write?

We all have our reasons, and for most of us, it just boils down to one thing: there’s a story burning inside that needs to be introduced into the world.

Of course, there are plenty of reasons to write. It’s a form of self-expression, it’s fun playing with the alchemy of words, it’s a way of earning money, it just seems like something interesting to try out, etc. There’s no wrong reason to write.

If there’s no wrong reason to write, then why do I ask?

No matter what the reason is to write, it has to boil down to one thing. Without that one thing, then the writer is going to be in for a difficult ride. This thing is what holds us together when we find a plot hole that is going to force us to change everything we had written already. It’s the thing that’s going to get us through writer’s block. It’s the aspect that makes re-reading your story for the twentieth time worth it to make sure all the typos are out and every sentence is what we need it to be. It’s going to be the thing that helps us cope with rejection letters and potential negative criticism.

It is the magical ingredient that no matter how many books on the subject you read, you cannot formulate how to conjure it. It needs to appear organically, and when it does, you need to nurture it.

Before I tell you what this ingredient is, I’m going to show you have to figure out if you have it or not.

Finding the Ingredient

It’s actually a pretty simple process. But don’t let simplicity undermine its value. Delving into yourself and really getting to the core of any matter is going to be how you discover yourself and your direction. It’s how you can understand how you want to market yourself as an author, how you write your stories, how you present yourself and your ideas, and even the way you choose to release your story into the world.

It’s the Why Game.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Write a list of every reason you can think of for why you want to write, or why you are a writer.
  2. Number them in importance
  3. Take the three most compelling reasons for why you’re a write, and as yourself why.
    For example, if your reason is because your story has to be told, ask yourself why.
  4. Ask why again
  5. And again.
  6. Repeat until you cannot come up with any other answers.
  7. When you get to this point, then you have the core of your answer.

Now, I want you to try this before you read on. Get out a piece of paper and give exercise a go. Hopefully, the answers all boil down to the same thing.

Okay, are you sure you’ve done this exercise?

Alright. I’ll believe you. Read on.

The Ingredient

There are of course variant terms to go along with this, so you can replace the word if need be. But the ingredient that is absolutely essential if you want to be able make it to your writing goals is joy.

If you don’t find enjoyment in what you do, it’s likely that you’re going to quit. I do say likely. There are people who write who don’t like it, but they have the goal of earning money. Writing for the love of money is a hard task, but there are people out there who do it (I encourage you to check out the Facebook group, 20booksto50k if you want to look further into it), and have a harder time of it.

 “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”

~Robert Frost

If there is no enjoyment in what you’re doing, it’s going to come through in your writing.

Writing, like anything else, can have difficult moments. Tom Robbins says that “writing is the hardest physical work there is.” If you’ve ever been stuck against a block or in a hole (writing-related metaphor, of course), then you understand.

But what gets us out of those situations, when the going gets tough, is the joy we have involving the problem, of getting to the finish line, of revising to make the story better. Joy is what pulls us through.

So, when I ask my clients why they are writing, it’s to gage where to start with them. Do they love what they do? How much? If not, why is that?

Sometimes the goal is helping to find the joy, and sometimes it’s to remember the joy so they have something to hang onto during this crazy, crazy ride.


Through April and May 2020, I am offer Pay What Feels Right sessions. This means that you can have a session and pay what feels right to you. Read more about it here. Or, you can fill out the form below to arrange an initial Free 30 minutes session to see if we work well together.

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Nicola Thompson

Born and raised in the Pacific North West (Washington State to be specific), I'm currently living on a farm, raising chickens, and writing in North Yorkshire. A former editor of Durham University's online magazine, The Bubble, I also write for the magazine Carpe Nocturne, and have several short stories published in a variety of anthologies.

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