Why do I write?

Motivated by Passion

I’m always amazed by the number of people I meet who have a well-developed idea for a book in their heads but have already convinced themselves they aren’t ‘good’ enough to actually write it. “You’re a published author,” they say, “maybe you can write it up for me.”

Since my first book’s release in November 2015, I’ve been asked to author three memoirs, a science fiction novel, a technical manual and a daily calendar of inspirational quotations, in return for dinner at a fancy restaurant, a bottle of fine wine, and even a bag full of coupons an acquaintance was almost certain hadn’t yet expired.

To put this in perspective, during the five years I worked as a journalist, no one ever asked me to write up their memoirs for them. While in many ways it’s flattering, I’m always left confused by these very serious requests.

When I try to laugh it off, joking that I can’t write up an idea still floating around in their head, that I’m not the right person for the task at hand, they usually press on anyway. What if they gave me notes or an outline? Or perhaps I could interview them?

Inevitably I have to gently explain how much time it takes to work out the storyline, research potential characters and places, then write out the dialogue, scenes, and chapters of a one-hundred thousand word work of fiction. Not to mention the months of rewriting and revising until the novel takes form, only to send it off to editors and proofreaders to be picked apart before starting the revision process all over again.

A variation of “I had no idea how much work went into writing one book” is the end of the conversation before they walk slowly away, contemplating the unexpectedly complex and time-consuming creation process.

These conversations usually put me in a reflexive mood as well, leaving me wondering why I do this to myself. In the end, it’s the passion for the subject matter, the need to find out what my characters do next, and the desire to see the story through to its resolution. That’s what keeps me going into the late hours of the night and restrains me from throwing the manuscript away when I discover an unrealistic plot twist or my editor finds a plethora of mistakes and it seems as if it’ll never be ready for publication.

Fellow authors, what motivates you to keep writing when things get tough?

Fellow readers, do you have an idea for a book worked out in your mind that you haven’t written down yet? Why not?


* The beautiful bouquet of flowers seemed like a good way to visualize my joy at finally getting my new website  up and running! I’m still playing with sidebar images and a few other things behind the scenes, but if you have any comments or suggestions for improvements, I’m all ears. Have a wonderful week!

Jennifer S. Alderson

Hello! I am the author of the Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mystery series, the Zelda Richardson Art Mystery series, and Adventures in Backpacking novels. I love to write and blog about travel, art, museums, expat life, and great books. Thanks for stopping by!

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Phyllis Entis

    I write to remain sane in an insane world. When reality becomes stranger than fiction, I can escape into a world of fiction in which my characters are real (at least to me). It sure as heck isn’t for the money!!

    1. Jennifer S. Alderson

      Lovely to hear, Phyllis! Writing can be quite therapeutic. Good luck with your career!

  2. Ann Gaylia O'Barr

    I think many of us who write do it because we can’t “not” write. It’s one of the ways we live.

    1. Jennifer S. Alderson

      Beautifully put, Ann Gaylia O’Barr. Thank you for commenting on this post. I wish you much success in your writing career!

  3. Eva Pasco

    There are so many facets to “writing.” Fabricating and formulating an idea or two into a cohesive and compelling story poses an enormous challenge in itself apart from all the editing and revising. Never mind the logistics of publishing, marketing, promoting, and actually selling. I write because I am compelled to do so by the power vested in me to tell a story worth reading.

    1. Jennifer S. Alderson

      Fantastic, Eva Pasco! You have the perfect motivation to keep writing beautiful books. Thank you for commenting on this post and good luck with your writing career!

  4. Thomas S. Mulvaugh

    Too many people have no clue of what hard of work it is to write a book, the research that is involved, the actual writing, and then rewriting, wonderfully written scenes, which have to be deleted because it has nothing to do with the story or to tighten up the story. After it is published comes promoting. Getting up and dressed for the part to head to a book signing at some events where you are setting next to other authors that are there to peddle their poems as each person that comes into the store you smile and do your best imitations of used car salesman as you ask “You like mysteries? ” All they while you are praying, “please just one person please buy my book”. After which you pack it all up to do it all over again the next weekend at another place. At the same time, you are working on the next project. I ask myself ‘why would any sane person do what we do?’ Because we love it, that is the reason. If you are not the person that is miserable when you are not writing chances are you are not a writer.

    1. admin

      I hear your pain and understand the deep-seated need to keep going, no matter how frustrating it can be. Many thanks, Thomas S. Mulvaugh for sharing your thoughts. I enjoyed reading it and wish you MUCH success in your writing career!

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