In this "Life of an Author" blog post series, I am going to dig into my life and other author friends of mine and divulge some of our greatest secrets as well as answer some commonly wondered questions and hand out tips that I have found immensely helpful. Your job? To sit back, read my post, and enjoy! (Also, I'd love to hear your thoughts on each post in a comment. But no pressure. ;)
Ever hit a wall in your writing? Ever feel like you JUST DON'T KNOW HOW TO CONTINUE? Ever have a great scene in mind...but no idea which story to put it in?
Welcome, my friend, to the life of an author.
Sometimes inspiration hits us in waves that overwhelm. Sometimes our brain feels about as useful as an empty candy wrapper. Sometimes life gets busy and our poor book takes about three times as long to finish as it should. Sometimes our characters, plot, AND outline all gang up on us and somehow twist OUR beloved story into something THAT WAS NOT MEANT TO BE.
Such are the problems we writers face on a daily basis. Such is our life. And yet...somehow we decide to continue writing.
I was hoping someone would ask that. *rubs hands together* The answer to that question is what this entire blog post is about. So thank you for asking. If you hadn't...well, this post would fall flat on its face and die a gruesome death.
So why? Why do we writers continue writing when the very thing we pour our time and effort into seems to turn on us at every corner?
Well, I went on a social media spree and asked some of my fellow authors "Why do you write?" The following answers (compiled and edited by yours truly) are what their responses were.
It is our passion:
Nothing is as thrilling to an author as the feeling of holding their own published work in their hands. The knowledge that every hour spent getting cramps in our wrists from typing, crying into our pillow late at night because we feel overwhelmed with deadlines, or killing a character because...honestly, you needed to take out your stress on SOMEBODY...it was all worth it because now you can hold your story in your hands and say to yourself, "I created this. I brought these characters to life. I made this world."
It is one of THE best feelings in the world. Trust me, I speak from my whopping eighteen years of experience...ten of which I've spent writing.
It is relaxing:
Believe it or not...writing actually helps calm our minds. When we sit down to write, everything happening in our crazy hectic lives melts away and we sink into the spiderweb of plot twists, changing characters and surprise endings. That may not sound relaxing to you...but it is. In a really weird way, it is relaxing. Not all the time, for sure, but sometimes.
It is addictive:
Yes, creating books is addictive. When you start...it's hard to stop. All those characters waiting for you to create the perfect (although very dangerous and exciting) world for them, the genius plots (which ALWAYS sound better in dreams), and the amazing message (which is USUALLY figured out by the end of the story) they pile up until we have a mountain of ideas that would take a lifetime to complete. So...we become authors so we can spend a lifetime making them.
It is a way we can create the books WE love:
Ever get tired of picking up a book and falling in love with the cover and description...only to find that it has swear words or inappropriate scenes inside? Well, writers do to. But instead of sitting at home with our cat and cup of tea moping about it, we decided to do something about it. So we picked up our pen/pencil/keyboard and notebook/computer and began writing. Because what better way is there to make a story that's perfect for your tastes than to create it yourself?
It is way to connect with other writers:
There's a whole community of fellow authors out there. I didn't even know about them until I was fourteen or so, but they have been the biggest blessing and encouragement to me throughout my writing journey. Nothing gets you involved with this wonderful group of people who are going through the ups and downs of an author's life then being one of them.
It is a ministry:
You might not think that writing fictional stories is a ministry, but it is. A couple different writer friends mentioned this as part of their answer. Really though, I can only agree. Writing stories is so much more than merely writing stories. Our stories are often encouraging, relatable, and contain godly messages that some people might pick up one day and read. If God used the writing abilities of people like Martin Luther, John Bunyan, Harriot Beecher Stowe, and our founding fathers to change the world, why not us? Often, our goal in life is having our book be a small beacon of light in a dark world.
It is a way to get a point across:
Sometimes, the best way to express yourself is through a written work. Nothing says, "I believe in this" or "I don't believe in this" like writing a whole book about it. I mean, take a look at the world-wide major works of lituature. Each of those literary giants who created them, penned them because of something they believed in. And their outspoken stand changed their time whether for good or for evil. Writing can be a dangerous weapon or an amazing tool depending on who holds the author's quill pen (or pencil...or computer...based on which century we're talking about). The Bible was written over a thousand years ago...and it still impacts and changes lives today and will continue doing so until God returns.
It is a duty we feel called to fulfill:
As with other ministries, some people feel called to write. That might sound strange...especially to people who don't write at all. Sometimes though, a writer can feel strongly burdened about something and put it in written form to fulfill the sense of duty they had over that particular subject.
It is a way we can become someone we could never be, and go places we could never go:
Through our characters and setting, we can create for ourselves places most people only dream of. We can see the world through a shy bookworm who never fits in anywhere or an outgoing celebrity that is trying to understand the meaning of life.
We can become spies or detectives, adventurers or aliens, elves or dwarves, kings or queens, princes or princesses, an all-powerful monarch or the poorest guttersnipe.
We can travel to unknown worlds or planets, to the British Isles (because who wouldn't want to go there?? ;) or to Antartica, and even to the moon and beyond.
All because we write. Yep. It's awesome.
It is a way to learn more about ourselves:
While creating characters in our stories, each one we make is, in part, a piece of ourselves. Bits of our personalities work their way into the main character and all the lesser characters. (Yes, even the villain. Read THAT and be frightened.)
While our protagonist works their way out of a sticky situation or deals with stress, so we cope with real life issues. I find myself amazed at how many reactions of characters echo things I've done myself (or wish I had during a sleepless night after-the-fact).
In addition to all of that, nothing pulls out your true self than running on too much coffee, restless nights when your brain won't calm down, the excitement of finishing a story, or the stress of countless deadlines.
For example, I am a generally laid-back person. I roll with the punches. I take the lemons life hands me and stare at them with a puzzled, blank expression on my face until someone hisses into my ear "You're supposed to make lemonade with them!" However, writing a book forces me to focus on one thing and see it through to the end (something I don't do a lot).
It is the only way to silence those voices in our heads:
You fellow writers know what I mean. Inspiration has a way of bugging us until we're FORCED to write it down. Character dialogue, plot ideas, a sudden setting pops into our mind...and the voices start. And they won't STOP until you get them down on paper or document somewhere, anywhere.
It is a part of us:
Just like composers and musicians can't stop the music flowing through their veins, so we writers can't stop the flow of character and plot ideas. Every day, every moment, things happen that stoke the creative fires that burn within us. It flows out through our minds, down through our fingertips, and into the words we write or type.
It is what we love to do:
Ah...the truth comes at out at last. After putting all the other reasons through a filter, this would be the true reason behind all the other ones. Writers love to write. We just do. This is the reason we go through near torture to create a story which might never be read by more then family members.
And there you have it. The reasons we authors write. Did it shock you? Or did you go through the reasons nodding your head and agreeing with me? Hopefully you had fun reading this post whatever your thought process. ;)