Why I Write

I spin tales, conjure up characters, and bleed ink on the page (metaphorically, of course, although I’ve had a few paper cuts in my day that made my pages a bit more “colorful”). Since my go-to question when writer’s block strikes is always why, it seems only natural to turn that same lens on myself. Think of it as my attempt to suss out why I keep at it, despite the polite passes from agents, the sometimes less-than-kind GoodReads reviews, and the sheer psychological exhaustion that sets in when nothing you write seems worth the paper it’s printed on. What compels me (and perhaps you) to keep hatching plots, delving into research, and reading craft books? It boils down to five essential rewards, some lofty, some terribly mundane and even crass. Nevertheless, here they are – the five pluses that, for me, outweigh the negatives.


Creative Outlet: An unlimited playground for my imagination waits for me every morning. It’s like being a kid again during summer vacation. Anytime I’m stuck, I just morph myself into an intrepid explorer, or a smartass detective, or a whimsical creature – fiction lets me explore endless possibilities whenever I want. There’s something magical about starting the day with a blank screen and ending the day with ten pages of text that never existed before. It’s a heady feeling and my guess is it’s the main reason most writers write. We’re searching for that high that comes from creating something out of nothing but our own mind.


Express an Idea or Belief: Fiction can also be a vehicle to share your take on the world. You can let a character champion social justice, you can explore how human beings fall in and out of love, or simply offer a unique perspective on how to live in the world. In my first book, I examined not only the role of “fake news” but who actually owns the rights to a headline-making story. In my sophomore novel, Blindspot, I take on the legal system for its woeful inadequacy when it comes to stalkers as well as the concept of infidelity and how much we should sacrifice for those we love. The richer you make the conflicts in your story, the deeper you explore the human condition, the more readers will find meaning in your book.


Fame/Ego: Okay, let’s be honest, recognition feels good. That’s part of why I hired a publicist for my debut. Even though it was costly, I knew for a beginning writer, it was my best chance to earn a spot on a listicle or to show up on Instagram posts. I got a zing of dopamine every time I was a guest on a podcast or published an essay on topics from my book. It’s why book clubs are catnip to writers—there’s nothing more thrilling than talking to ten women drinking wine in someone’s home and the topic is your book! Or being on a panel where you and two other authors get to act like experts and pontificate about the “writing process.” That ego boost is often enough to propel me on to the next book so I can experience it all again.


Financial Rewards: You can stop laughing now. Don’t worry—I know the financial rewards are usually paltry compared to what I might have earned elsewhere—say, working the counter at my local McDonald’s. But financial success stories do exist, and the potential to earn through publishing, adaptations, or even teaching can be a welcome bonus. Most writers earn less in royalties than they do with ancillary streams of revenue that flow from their writing career, like guest lectures, speaking fees, coaching or editing services, and direct sales to readers through book festivals, Substack newsletters, or on your own website. The rise of indie publishing is primarily driven by authors looking for a way to be better compensated for their work.


Community: Did I go into writing to find friends? No. But that’s what happened. And I’ve left this reward for last because it was unexpected, serendipitous and in retrospect, the best thing I’ve gotten from being a writer. I recently compiled a list of fellow writers who have volunteered to help me launch my second book and the number reached over one hundred. I met them through associations like RMFW, in local writing groups, at conferences, and on social media and this supportive community has offered not only camaraderie, but insightful critiques and invaluable information about everything from agent queries to audio book production to Facebook ads. And as a lifelong reader, it’s also a kick to correspond and often meet writers I’ve admired for years.


So while there will be days when nothing goes right—my characters don’t behave, my plot goes off on a tangent, my clever twist fails to land—I’m not stopping. For all the reasons above, plus many more, I’ve found the rewards of novel writing to far outnumber the challenges. From unleashing my creativity to forging meaningful connections to the ego surge I get from seeing my book on a library shelf, this act of writing fiction nourishes my soul.



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