Remembering Why and Other Thoughts on Writing

If you’re around a writer for very long, you’ll discover they we spend a lot of time on introspection. Lately, this has meant asking myself why I write and what I want to accomplish with my writing.

While introspection is a huge part of my daily thought life, I tend to be more introspective:

  • When I finish a project and am considering what to write next
  • At the end of the year so I can plan my work for the new one

A-hem. Strangely, those two things coincided this year.

Then I read some amazing blog posts, like this one from K.M. Weiland (who every writer should follow), that got me thinking even more about my writing.

Why Do I Write?

In the post I link above, Weiland has a list of seven lessons she learned in 2020. The second and the third are the ones that had me wrinkling my forehead and returning to my journal to consider:

  • Why am I here?
  • What inspires me?

Since my long writing drought—thanks to creative burnout—I’ve be uber-conscious of my creative self. But I hadn’t considered that writing without the passion I had previously experienced was a possibility. I mean, the main reason I quit a job I enjoyed and found satisfying was because I had so many stories and had longed to spend my days writing them for years and years.

And I did spend my days writing them for four years. Until I burned out.

Weiland talks about how she sees herself entering “Act 2” of her writing career. She’s not sure she’ll be writing the same sort of fictional stories, but she’s not going to consider herself as “not writing” if she doesn’t write fiction.

Oh, I’m so guilty of this. I churn out blog posts (like this one) and act like I didn’t write.

Just because it’s not fiction? Or because it’s not part of my next book?

I can’t really say, but I want to love writing again. I don’t want every day to be a drudgery. Hey, if that’s all life’s going to be, I can apply for another nine-to-five job and at least get paid regularly for my misery.

Here’s why I write:

  • Because I love it
  • Stories beg me to tell them
  • Characters nag me to tell their side of things

I used to say it was because God gifted me with the ability and called me to share stories. I’ll be frank, in the past year, I’ve been questioning whether that’s true. In fact, I’m not sure I’ll write another novel if I don’t find that sense of purpose from the Lord again.

What Do I Want my Writing to Accomplish?

There were too many ah-ha moments for me when I read Weiland’s post. I won’t list them all here. I already did that in a letter I wrote to myself that was over 2,500 words long.

And, yes, I counted those words as “words written” for the day. (I track these in a spreadsheet. To date, I have written 1,740,454 words since beginning to track them in 2014. The first several years, the only words I counted were in my manuscripts and blog posts.)

Point six: Being a Writer Doesn’t Always Mean Writing

Well, okay then. What does make a person a writer?

This is where I spun off into the what is the purpose for my writing.

I’ve written novellas and short stories purely to entertain readers. I often read to escape the realities of the world for awhile (and let’s face it, our world has been a bit dark lately and conventional means of jetting away have been hampered). When I’m writing, I fall into that story world so I get to escape and be entertained before my readers.

Most of the blogs I write are to inform other writers or other women. I did a series on my struggles with weight during menopause. This year, my blogs will focus more on helping struggling writers who might come here because they’re in my coaching group.

But I’ve always had loftier goals than these for my novels. I want the characters to inspire readers to be better, to keep moving, to consider broader questions about society and to draw them closer to the Creator.

Yeah, lofty.

And frankly, I don’t feel up to that task anymore. So does that mean I’m done writing?

What this Means for the Future

In fact, what this means is that I’m going to be present for my family as much as possible and wait for the right story.

Typing that sentence made my stomach clench and my heart race. You know why? Because I said I would “persist” this year. I wrote a novel in November, and I planned to revise it this month, edit it next month, get beta input in March, finish polishing it in April and start sending it to agents no later than June. If I don’t get RIGHT ON THAT, I won’t make my deadlines.

Newsflash: I don’t think I’m ready to make that story all it can be.

That means, it isn’t the story I’m supposed to write and use to find my dream agent and land the traditional publishing contract I’ve been dreaming of since I was ten years old.

It also means I’m going to publish fewer blogs. I’m going to sit down every day during writing time and experiment. I’m going to have fun. There’s going to be no expectation that anything I write will be read by anyone or become part of a larger work.

One day, the Lord will stir the passion for a character, a story, a theme, a premise, and ignite my desire to tell that story and deliver it to readers. That’s the day I’m hoping is tomorrow because I’m a writer, and I want to publish more stories that can entertain and encourage you – my reader.

What do you think? Add to the discussion here.