So You Wanna Write Part 3: Why Write?

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People write for many different reasons. Sure it’s romantic to say we’re all in it for the art or the love of the craft, but that’s just not so for most of us, not even for me. Now, you do have people like Katherine Rebekah who has a genuine love of writing and will likely carry on with it through thick and through thin. Take a look at her comment from part 1 of this series: “Let’s be Real”:

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I applaud writers like her.

As I’ve stated, I write to tell stories. I take the craft of storytelling very seriously. So seriously that I watch audio commentaries of many movies I own to get a glimpse into the minds of the guys who created the stories that I love. (For a great experience and wealth of knowledge, I highly recommend watching the audio commentary for all the Pixar films, an activity my wife introduced me to).

So far in this series we’ve talked about how writing is not romantic, and that there is a difference between writing and storytelling. Now let’s discus why we write – or why we tell stories.

Many people commented in my last post that they are storytellers but want to be better writers.

Like GDR from Altered Egos:

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Others stated in some ways that they are writers. Sort of. Like Christopher Kokoski, Author and Speaker:

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All of them want to be authors, or better authors.

But why?

To make money? To get your name on the New York Times Best Seller list? Bragging rights? (None of these are bad reasons, by the way. Okay, maybe bragging rights is a little narcissistic, but otherwise you’ve got to get food on your table somehow, right?) But the thing is, these aren’t realistic, and deep down you know that.

Sure, it’s my goal to see my book The Man in the Box on the New York Times Best Seller list, but I know that’s not going to happen anytime soon. At least not with a lot of work and a plan set in place (which I’ll discuss in later posts – for instance, Like it on Facebook for a chance to win a free autographed copy).

Don’t fool yourself into thinking your award-worthy book is going to sell. Despite my almost-perfect star rating and raving reviews, and respectable sales, The Man in the Box hasn’t brought in a single penny to my bank account after having been out since November 2012. Which is why I’m re-releasing it later this summer (more on that later, as well).

So let’s be real. You and I aren’t writing for monetary gain (at least not off the bat). So, why are we doing it? I write this blog to inspire people, to inform, and, honestly, to build a fan base for my upcoming novels. (Is it working?)

One of the times I teared up most in the movie Saving Mr. Banks was when Walt Disney explains to P.L. Travers why they, as storytellers, tell stories. “We [storytellers] restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again and again.”

I cried at hearing this because there is a deep truth to these words. That, at least, summed up why I wrote The Man in the Box. I spent literally the entire book devising ways to tear my protagonist’s life apart one shred at a time only so I can build it back up again in the end (it’s not as predictable as it sounds). Because I wanted to show readers that no matter how far down the wrong path you’ve gone, no matter how hopeless your life is, hope always remains. Or, as my pastor says, “There are no hopeless situations, just hope-less people.”

Many people write for different reasons. Some to excite, to thrill, to impress, to scare, to inspire, to experiment, to humor, to captivate, to fulfill, to provoke, to challenge… and these are all very good things.

But others write for the wrong reasons. Such as E.L. James (Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy) and many of her wannabes. Don’t write to seduce or “awaken passions and lusts.” Just don’t. There are literally thousands of cheap romance books that have already been written; the world doesn’t need another one. It’s disgusting, degrading, and just plain stupid. I mean, really, are we all still in junior high, trying to get worked up over page 63?

There’s no talent in that kind of writing. We all know how it all work – we don’t need to read about it.

If that’s the reason you write, turn off the computer, and reevaluate your motives. If you’re not comfortable with your grandma and your ten-year-old reading your work, then maybe you need to pick up a new hobby. I’m not trying to upset anyone here – I’m trying to help. If you can write something that both your grandma and your ten-year-old can both relate to, then you’ve achieved a higher call in writing than most people can only dream about.

Respect the craft. Honor the great storytellers before you by carrying the torch they’ve passed on. They’ve left us with big shoes to fill, and our audiences are craving more than just cheap flings and seductive vicars.

Now it’s your turn. Share with us all why you write.

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About adoptingjames
My lovely wife and I are foster parents, dog owners, home owners, and Christians. I am a blogger, book editor, and author. On my blog you'll read about adoption, faith topics, inspirational thoughts, and a whole lotta Disney/Pixar lovin'! For the most exciting read ever, check out my suspense/adventure novel, The Man in the Box. You. Will. Love it.

35 Responses to So You Wanna Write Part 3: Why Write?

  1. Victoria says:

    I write for the sheer joy of it. My grand daughter is the one who inspired me to write my first children’s book. My writing coach encouraged me to write a YA novel as she told me I have what it takes. Time will tell on that. I love love your blog!

    • Joe says:

      Writing makes me feel good. I have always been a writer, even when I didn’t know it. As a young boy, I would make up stories to tell to the kids who followed me around the neighborhood, and later to the ones for whom I babysat.

      Writing helps me to cope with the things I face in life; and I feel healthy when I can get my feelings into words and share them. Sometimes I am able to transfer my feelings to others and they cry or laugh — and that is a wonderful thing to experience.

      I never focus on fame or fortune. I write because I must.

      • Victoria says:

        That is awesome Joe! I too, do not write for fame and fortune. I’ve had a yearning to write for the past 20 years and finally put my pen to the paper two years ago. Wishing you all the best! -:)

      • Sounds a lot like me when I was growing up :) I actually used to record my made-up stories on a little red tape player I had and I’d play music while telling my stories.

    • Hopefully you’ve found your niche. I think that’s great! Good luck with it and thank you!

  2. H.Fields says:

    I write because my head becomes too heavy if I don’t. I’m constantly thinking about things. Whether it be a story or a blog post or a poem, I am reflecting what happens within my mind. Some things are heartbreaking, some are silly, some are inspiring, and the list goes on. I want to share my words in the hopes that they help, inspire, or just make someone think. I also write to glorify the Lord. Even if my writing isn’t directly about the Father all the time, I think it is insulting to throw His gift to me back in His face. That may sound cheesy, but that’s how I think of it.

    Pens and pencils just aren’t for lying around. They are doors that open possibility with language if we use them with good intent, and that is what I intend to do. That is why I write.

    • That wasn’t cheesy at all. We need more people like you who are brave enough to write BECAUSE of the Lord, not necessarily always ABOUT Him – the Bible’s already been written, and C.S. Lewis already made it make a little more sense :)

  3. For me, there is no short answer to this question. I’ve heard, your passion is what you think about when no one else is around. For me, that’s writing, and it has been for a very long time. I just have to figure out HOW and WHAT to write.

  4. Good post, thanks. Not to be that guy, but “….storytellers were the most respected in there culture…”
    I believe she means ‘their culture’. Cheers.

  5. Onimaru says:

    I write because no matter how much I want to give up this craft, the universe rudely reminds me that I was not born with the ability to draw pretty pictures (so being a comic book artist is out), nor have the time or resources to be making animated features (no film-making for me) or even play the guitar (starting a rock band is out too). And also because writing is the only thing I know how to do well even when I’m delirious with fever at 8pm on a stormy Thursday night without fucking up.

  6. tylowery says:

    Excellent set of posts. I think the hardest issue people have to contend with is what writing really means to them. There’s so many diverse motives, formats, and ways of writing that people get lost in all of it, and that can sometimes scare them away. Its easy to drown under a sea of articles about how to become a writer, what to write about, and how to make it rich as one that people get moved so far away from what was really intriguing about the notion of writing in the first place and don’t know how to find their way back. Just a thought, though.

    By the way, thanks for following my blog. I look forward to reading more posts from you. Cheers.

  7. artechoes says:

    I write because I have thoughts and ideas that need to be expressed. I want others to say, “I see because you show me.” Whether I’m doing it through devotionals, stories, art, or poetry doesn’t matter as much as does the trying. Humor, beauty, reality: all are important to the human story which we all struggle to understand. Artists help others see. Christian artists help them see Christianly.

  8. Awww, that was a really nice complement. Thank you, it made my day.
    I don’t know if I can tell you why I wright, it just always been there. Ever sense my love for reading was sparked with The Chronicles of Narnia (thanks C.S. Lewis) I have worked on stories myself. If I had to tell you my niche in life I would say it was writing, not even story telling, just writing. I write poetry, songs, essays, letters, and my novel of course. You name it.
    So, why do I write? I guess because I’m a writer.

  9. pamelaanne68 says:

    Reblogged this on pamelaanne68 and commented:
    Part 3!

  10. rgemom says:

    I write because I have to. My brain and heart won’t let me hold it all in. I grew up inside of stories, and sometimes have dreams so vivid they stay in my head until I write them down. I’ve yet to publish anything other than my mommy blog, but I’m working on it!

  11. Writing feels good, it’s a way of expression that allows other people to be enterained, moved or cause them to think. The thought of one day doing it full time is fantasic. These are the reason I write.

  12. Wardy says:

    I write as part of a legacy I want to leave for my twin boys for the day I will not be here any more. After losing my own father early in life I wish I could have known him better. Secondly, a part of me craves to be creative as an expressive outlet to hopefully share my world, thoughts and experiences with other who feel they cannot write.
    To touch someone though words by invoking powerful feelings can be a moving experience in itself. Lastly, It helps me explore myself. Sometimes I am surprised by what I write once I get going. Reflection on such pieces can shape my day to day perceptions, moods and view of the world that surrounds us….hopefully for the better with an understanding of the accumulative wisdom I have collect thus far….

  13. suzanne says:

    I write because God has asked me to. Because it’s part of my job as a human.

  14. Why do I write? I have to in order to get the “crazy” out of my head. I’ve got people, and adventures and entire worlds that I’ve been creating in my head since childhood. They were my safe place to wander when the real world was too boring for me. I never thought to get them out of my head and share with others until recently

  15. Pingback: So You Wanna Write Part 5: What to Write | adoptingjames

  16. simplykathyh says:

    I write and try to write to explain my views, experiences and word pictures to others. Sometimes it makes sense and then other times it confuses even me. My goal is to have my writings and thoughts on paper to motivate someone in this world. Until then I will follow is calling I have had in my life.

  17. sheketechad says:

    I write because sometimes it feels as if I have words and letters in my veins instead of blood like normal people. Language and its capabilities have enamored me from a young age, and always in my head I have a narrator of life, events, things that I see. I find great pleasure in transferring emotions, beauty, hardship, strength, frailty to others, in case at that very moment they stumble upon something that I have written, they will feel a kinship, no longer alone, and have hope to continue forward. With my photography, I can truly capture that very moment in time and space, and sometimes my writing enables me to pass that very same thing on to others, to make it a part of their own experience – to motivate them to think or act differently simply by experiencing another perspective. And lastly, because I have to, I can’t explain it more clearly than that :)

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