Why Do You Write?

Readers: I’m reblogging this post, because it comes at an interesting point in my own writing path. I haven’t written a word in 11 days, which I think is the longest I’ve gone without writing in almost a year. I’m struggling between stress in other areas of my life, thinking that my ideas are fruitless, and getting into a negative cycle of, “Why do I even bother doing this?”

That being said, it’s important to remind ourselves why we do the things we love, even when it’s challenging and even when the road ahead looks tough. I’m going to be thinking about this question for the rest of the day, and I encourage you to do the same: Why do you write?

Kate M. Colby

Why do you write? What I love about this question is that there are infinite answers. Every writer has his/her unique reasons and those reasons can change based on mood, a phase in life, and/or the particular writing piece.

On one level, this can be a practical question. Seriously, why do you write when it is such a difficult field to succeed in? It can also be a spiritual question. What in your soul calls you to this creative outlet? From other writers, it can be a call for help or community. Why do we do this when it is so hard and it dredges up such painful insecuritiesMy favorite is when it is a question of wonderment and fascination. How in the world do you think up these ideas and what magical force compels you to see them through?

I’ve been going through a bit of a…

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Defining Success and Failure

Putting yourself out there is scary in any case, but it’s especially terrifying when it’s something you truly love.  It was hard to tell my husband, my family, and even my close friends that I wrote a book and actually wanted to publish it.  I still haven’t told some of my close friends, and I haven’t let most people read it yet.  I mean no offense toward them by this – just the opposite.  There’s almost something less scary about giving your work to a stranger to evaluate.  If Bob Jones on the Internet doesn’t like what I wrote, who cares?  But if my mom or my best friends think this is complete crap, what does that say about the work and about me, as a writer and a person?  I think there is something in the back of my head that says if I fail as being a writer, it’s a strike against me as a person.

The first step toward changing this mindset is to redefine what failure and success are to us.  If we think that failure is failing to become a bestselling novelist, well–we’re probably going to fail.  Writing to get rich and famous probably isn’t going to work, just based on the odds.  If success only comes with a publishing deal at Big 5 company, again–maybe that won’t happen.

Of course, we should all strive to be the best at what we do. But when I went to law school, I didn’t define “successful” as going to Yale Law School, getting a Supreme Court clerkship, and then someday becoming the Attorney General. I couldn’t do that, because I would have been setting myself up to fail.  I defined success based on my own terms and my own interests.  I’m in the exact job that inspired me to go to law school, so I think that’s a slice of success.

So, why do we, as writers, let commercial success be a guiding post about whether we’re good or bad?  Maybe I’ll never have a publishing deal.  Maybe I’ll self-publish all of my work.  Maybe my mom won’t like it.  But here’s how I’m going to define success:  I can finish an entire project (done!), clean that project as well as I can (pending!), and hold a printed copy of that book in my hands (soon!).  I want to adjust my lifestyle so that I’m making time every day to write a little bit, and I want people–even if they’re people I know–to read my ideas and evaluate them.

Success doesn’t have to writing the next great American novel.  Success can be as little as one person reading and enjoying your work.

Welcome!

Welcome to my WordPress site.  I’m not too technologically inclined, so for now, this will have to be sufficient.

Why do you need a WordPress site, you ask?  Later this fall, I will be publishing my first book (!), The Historian (coming soon to Amazon).  This site will serve as a resource for that book, as well as future projects.

Speaking of future projects, you should all know what is right around the corner – National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo.  NaNoWriMo gets a lot of hate from bloggers around the internet, most of whom complain that it pushes out crappy products.  No first draft is a masterpiece, and to me, it’s more important that writers just get out there and write – and NaNoWriMo is a wonderful motivator for that.  I participated last November, and I also participated in Camp NaNoWriMo in April and July.  Maybe it’s not for everyone, but I like structure.  You can look forward to posts about the challenges and rewards of the month.

So, sorry there isn’t too much content yet, but I hope that will change in the future.  You can also find me on Twitter: @racheliswriting.

Talk soon,
Rachel