One Tiny Question

Before I delve into posts on genres, writers/books, and writing principles, I want to ask each of you one tiny question.  If there was a question to which I could point as being THE most important for writers of any age or experience, it would be this one.

Why do you write?  Or, put a slightly different way: why are you a writer?

Everyone’s reasons for writing are unique to them but many follow one or more of several broad themes:

  • They have done it instinctively, since they knew what words or stories were, because stories just flow from them.  AKA the so-called ‘born writers’.
  • They can’t find any of the kind of books they like to read so they write them.
  • They have always told stories verbally and as they grew older, writing became a way of telling those stories to a wider audience or preserving the story in a permanent format.
  • They decided that being a writer was fun or cool.

For myself personally, it’s a mix of 1 and 3.  Someone else I know is a mix of 1 and 2.  Another friend is primarily 3.


I don’t think there is a bad motivation for becoming a writer.  Unless you began writing so you could learn how to kill people by making words leap off the page and cut them, strangle them, etc.  That’s a problem but fortunately for the rest of us, it’s a very difficult skill to learn, so it’s unlikely that you’ll master it in the next hundred years, which means that if it is your motivation, you’ll die before you figure it out and thus your readers don’t have to worry about it.  And I don’t have to be concerned about potentially giving people bad ideas that will land me on a watch list somewhere.

Aside from that completely ridiculous reason, there is literally no ‘wrong’ reason for becoming a writer.  (There are a few possibly wrong or questionable reasons for becoming an author, but I’ll address those another time.)

Your identity as a writer depends on your response to this question.  You might be:

  • The kind that only writes for themselves to read.
  • The kind that writes for family and friends but doesn’t care about publishing.
  • The kind that loves to write and would kind of like to publish someday but isn’t sure they’re good enough.
  • The kind who adores stories and is biding their time waiting for the right moment to publish.
  • The kind that writes to fill a perceived hole in the literary market.
  • The kind that is absolutely sure they know it all and they have it all together and there aren’t many (if any) new things that anyone can teach them.  (FYI: if you are that kind, you should probably stop reading this blog right now.  I wouldn’t like to give you an aneurysm.)

Whether you were born writing or randomly decided one day to make writing your career, whether you dream of landing a huge publishing deal as soon as possible or plan never to show your stories to another living soul: you need to know the answer to this question because it becomes the foundation for finding your own unique style as a writer.  Once you know this, you can build on it to discover your personal writing voice and preferences and from there learn what your strengths and weaknesses are and how to balance them to write well.  It is literally crucial to the state of being a writer.

So tell me, why do YOU write?



6 thoughts on “One Tiny Question

  1. Elijah David says:

    I started writing because I wanted to write something that would impact others the way Narnia impacted me. I kept writing because the stories kept coming and I wanted to get them all written. I have aspirations for publishing (and my first published novel comes out this month).


  2. Kendra E. Ardnek says:

    Mine is largely a combination of 1 and 3, too. I started making up stories as soon as I understood the concept (and I understood it fairly early), and I would act them out with my sister and our other friends.

    Although, I didn’t really want to be a writer growing up. I would have preferred to be an actress. So I started writing plays for my sister and I to perform. I eventually decided to rewrite the new Narnia movies (I hadn’t been very impressed with them), and that eventually evolved into Rizkaland, and by the time that happened, I was neck deep in writing and there was no way out.

    And as I’m pretty sure you already know, I write to share my stories with others. If I wanted to keep them to myself, I wouldn’t go through the painful process of pouring them onto paper (and yes, it’s painful some days. Many days.).


  3. Deborah O'Carroll says:

    I’ve always done it instinctively, and I continue to do it because I can’t stop. 🙂 Recently I was contemplating what would happen if I just stopped writing. The response? A poem wove its way through my head unbidden (which I posted on New Year’s Day on my blog) about my writing road and trusting God that there’s something around those further bends of the trail which I need to continue to follow. I guess that was my answer… every time I try to stop writing, I respond to it with creativity, so I guess I’m in it for life, eh? 🙂 Excellent question/post.


  4. noliealcarturiel says:

    In its shortest form, my answer is (trying to be concise while representing all four causes): “God gave me words and stories by which to tell His truth for His glory.” But I also spend a thousand words on the details of my argument for each, and haven’t told the half. I’m mostly 1, but I’m also “the kind that loves to write and would kind of like to publish someday but isn’t sure they’re good enough”, and to some extent “the kind that writes to fill a perceived hole in the literary market.”
    *How* I got started writing. . . that’s half Tolkien’s influence, and half that I told myself stories at night before falling asleep, to pass the time (still do). When I was about eight I told myself one I thought was good enough to write down (I no longer hold that opinion). So perhaps I started out as 3.


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