One of the most important questions for a writer is: why write? What keeps you at the computer late at night or early in the morning? What drives you to continue stringing those words together when it feels like nobody’s listening and nobody cares? Why do you write?
A couple weeks ago I got the flu. It was two weeks before my planned course launch and I had blog and social scheduling, lesson writing, course setup—AKA a ton of work to do. Then I lost a week and a half of work time. I have ulcerative colitis so I’m not a total stranger to working while feeling not-so-great, but this flu was knock-down, drag-out, make friends with a bucket. I didn’t get anything done. As I emerged from that fog, I thought, “Hmm, I’ve got less than a week until the planned launch, precarious health, and a to do list that’s way too long.” It’s a scenario that had me ready to retreat into my room, queue up the Netflix and ignore the world for a little longer.
Life is like that a lot. It can be busy, overwhelming, and distracting so when you pull your head out of the fog to write, it all just feels like too much. Writing becomes a luxury or drudgery. You forget why you bother with it at all. But there’s a reason why you write—or why you feel called to. There’s a motive (or two) that drives you to keep putting words on the page. The best way to let writing have a place in that fog, that busyness, that overwhelm, is to name your why. Call it a mission statement, manifesto, or simply your passion, defining why you write will guide your words and your heart.
The reasons to write are countless: to express yourself, to share your story, as an act of worship, as a form of therapy, as a way to process the world, to pass on what you’ve learned, for money, for prestige. Writing could just be one of the ways you flex your creative muscles. Whatever reasons drive you, spending a little time defining why you write will enable you to grow and succeed as a writer.
Explore these three steps to uncover your why.
- Reflection. Think about what fires you up to write. What’s your instinctive answer to the question of why you write?
- Examine what you’ve written. Do you write introspective personal essays, informative blog posts, or in-depth profiles? The genres that attract you can say a lot about why you write.
- Look at the role writing plays in your life. Do you write for a living or as a creative outlet? Do you write the most when you’re going through challenges in life?
Once you’ve defined a few reasons, pull them together to form a statement (or a few statements) that encompass why you write. Next time you’re frustrated, discouraged, or overwhelmed you can look back at that statement and remember why writing is worth the effort.
Want to invest more time into your writing? Check out our free course The Creative Nonfiction Primer. Download it now and get started on your next memoir, essay, blog post, or magazine feature today.