Writer’s Wisdom 101: The Why of Writing

Happy February! Can you believe we’re already a month into 2019? Sometimes I feel like I can’t even keep up! 

On days like that, I can be hard to put your hands to the keyboard and get those words out, and on even harder days, it can be hard to remember why it is we do this whole writing thing.

Today’s guest shares his reflection process on how he found his ‘why’ for writing, which can be helpful for even the best of us. Check out his post, and maybe it will help you through one of your rainy writing days! 

Why I Write

Author Daniel Aegan

 

I was asked this recently, and I didn’t have an answer. That’s weird for me. I usually have an answer for everything, even if I’m making it all up.

I’m sure every author has their own answer to this question. I can give you a generic “because I love it” response. I can say “I can’t stop myself” too. But it’s a bit more complicated than that.

I can tell you with confidence why I started writing. I had an idea so powerful that it took root in my mind and  refused to let go. I wanted to read it. Being as it only existed in my mind, I had to be the one to write it if I wanted it to be real.

Keep in mind I had taken no creative writing courses. I hadn’t written anything other than a few short stories in high school either. I took a composition class in college, but that didn’t qualify me to dive into a full novel just because I wanted to be a writer all of a sudden.

Once I started, I loved it. I loved bringing the characters to life and creating the world around them, populating it with people with their own little stories, told and untold. I loved crafting the story, throwing twists in and making my characters change their plans or find workarounds to overcome my obstacles. I was a sadist, and my characters were my puppets.

Something inside me was unlocked. My craft had yet to be honed to the point it is today, but I found I had an untapped skill i never knew was inside me. I let my friends read my first draft, and their feedback, positive and negative, pushed me forward. I finished my book (self-published under a pen name), and I never stopped writing.

That covers the beginning, but I still haven’t answered my opening question: Why do I write?

I’ve seen other writers describe it as an addiction. On days they can’t write, they feel off. I get that too. I work full time, so I write when I can in the little spaces of the day. A lot of times while I’m at work, I wish I was in my made-up worlds, continuing where I left my characters.

Maybe that’s it. Maybe I do it to quell the addiction. I never personally felt that way, but it makes sense. If I go a long stretch of time with no progress, I do feel off, like I’m letting someone down.

Others have told me to  write out of spite. When I started, it was clear I had something. I was churning out stories in months that take some writers years. I haven’t suffered from writer’s block, and what I produce is coherant and well-recieved. This brought on the trolls.

I’m not talking about the traditional trolls that tear you down to their level just for the hell of it (though I get those too). I’m talking about other writers who see themselves as failures because they can’t do what others, like me, can. And I gave their demons a target. I lost friends. Long-running feuds were started. People went out of their way to hurt feelings. It was ugly, and I was told to succeed to put them all in their place.

But I never wrote to spite them or bring them down. That was never my intent. Sure, I still get the occasional random troll who calls me a shit writer (who has never read a thing I’ve written), and others who have called me a failure (despite themselves never trying to succeed at anything other than being just another internet asshole in a long line of internet assholes). I wish them well, I really do. I know the only merit in what they say is to drag people to the bottom with themselves so they can feel something, anything, other than the pain they feel for their own miserable lives. They’re a topic for another piece, though.

I’ve seen tons of writers trying to get publishing deals as their ultimate goal. It’s true that I have that goal in mind too, and I’m querying four books at the moment in hope of landing the right agent for my style and voice. That’s not why I write, though. I only started querying in late 2018, and I’ve been writing for years leading up to it.

Do I want to escape reality into my own fantasy worlds? Life isn’t always fun. You can’t be at the playground every day. Someone has to work and pay the bills, and traversing a haunted forest or a space station full of reptilian aliens in one’s own mind won’t accomplish that.

My life isn’t horrible enough for me to create stories as an escapist tactic. Sure, I daydream a lot when work gets tedious about the realms I’ve conceived and the populations within them, but that doesn’t mean I’m a miserable person. I have a decent job, a great family, and an excellent source of friends.

Still, why the hell do I write?

At this point, I’m getting annoyed with myself. I had some ending in mind when I started, and I went on a few different tangents. All this typing, and I have yet to uncover the reason I write, have written, and will continue to write.

That’s it, though. I never know where my stories will take me. Even with a solid outline in hand, my characters do what they want and keep me on my toes. Even now, during a blog about writing, I had no idea I’d lead myself here. It’s exciting, a rush in my own head. It’s an exhilaration I can share with my readers if they want to enter into that intimate author/reader relationship that only exists in our own minds.

And that’s why I write.  

What do you think? What is your ‘why’ for writing? Comment below with the reasons you keep pushing and how you stay inspired through the rough patches. 

In the meantime, I hope you have the smoothest of weeks, and as always, I wish you happy writing!

About Our Guest

Daniel Aegan hails from New Haven, CT. He’s currently seeking an agent for multiple books in the sci-fi/fantasy realm. He’s a fan of genre-bending and satire in what he writes or reads.

When not working or writing, Daniel enjoys time with his family and dogs, tarot reading, and board games. Marvel movies and old sitcoms are always on his playlist.

JM Sullivan

Teacher by day, award-winning author by night, J.M. Sullivan is a fairy tale fanatic who loves taking classic stories and turning them on their head. She has a passion for the writing community and loves empowering and encouraging other authors on social media with #AuthorConfession. When she’s not buried in her laptop, you can find her watching scary movies with her husband, playing with her kids, or serving homage to her cats. Although known to dabble in adulting, J.M. is a big kid at heart who still believes in true love, magic, and most of all, the power of coffee. If you would like to connect with J.M., you can find her on her website www.jmsullivanbooks.com, on social media at @jmsullivanbooks, or by joining the fun at #AuthorConfession--she’d love to hear from you.

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