Why I Write. Know Your Why.

Writers spend a lot of time on introspection. Lately, this has meant asking myself why I write, as well as what I want to accomplish with my writing.

It’s the time of year I tend to be more introspective. Why? Because I’m thinking about what goals to set for the new year, and part of that process is reflecting on the accomplishments and shortfalls of the previous year.

Why Do I Write?

This is the subject of my first YouTube video. You can check it out here.

I can’t answer that without first addressing: 1)What the purpose is for my writing; 2) who I’m writing for; and 3) what inspires me to keep writing.

During two long years of creative burnout, I wondered if I would ever write with the passion I previously experienced. The flood of story ideas still came but I had zero motivation to write them. Or I started writing them and lost interest after a few scenes.
But is fiction all I’m meant to write?

This is when I need to know my “why” for writing. It acts as a compass pointing to true north that I can use to judged every writing project I undertake.

I know this sounds like over-thinking, but I’m going to explain why I think this is an essential part of the writer’s life.

According to a blog post published here last year, this list is why I write:

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

I also mentioned that I once believed God gifted me with the ability to write and called me to share stories. But I’m still questioning that because I haven’t been able to consistently come up with stories to write.

Surely if God called me to it, he would make sure I had plenty of fodder for my pen.

I think one reason I’ve been second-guessing this part of my “why” is because the form I’d focused on writing for several years —novella and novel—wasn’t appealing to me any longer.

That’s where the second half of discovering why I write came into play.

What Do I Want my Writing to Accomplish?

In the past eight years, 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, too.

I want my writing to entertain.

In 2021, much of my writing came in the form of posts like this one. These words inform other writers using my experience or knowledge base.

My writing should be informative or educational.

But I’ve always had loftier goals than these for my writing. I want the characters I create to inspire readers to be better, to keep moving, and to consider broader questions about society. Ultimately, I hope my stories will 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?

In 2021, I published fewer blogs because I spent much of my daily writing time experimenting. I wrote flash fiction that made me laugh. I wrote short stories about characters I’d never considered before.

In short, I tried to find the fun in writing again.

And it reminded me that I started my publishing journey with short stories. When had I decided I didn’t want to write them anymore? Don’t I believe I can achieve entertaining, informing and inspiring readers with short fiction as well as long?

Because on the backside of creative burnout, I’ve realized that our reason for writing evolves. The things that I wanted when I sat down and penned my first young adult fantasy novel in 2013 aren’t the same things I want today.

Or are they?

Unless I’m certain of why I write, the writing won’t feel exciting or fulfilling.

Don’t get me wrong, writing is hard. There will be plenty of days I don’t “feel” like showing up at the page and doing the work. But if I know what I’m writing is aligned with why I write, I can press on during the difficult times.

Why do you write? How do you keep that reason front-and-center while you’re writing?

What do you think? Add to the discussion here.