So you have to do this...or do you?

I was very interested in the response to my post of Monday, in which I asked people why they did what they did. Most of the respondents--almost all writers--said pretty much the same thing. 

Because I have to. Because the stories come and I have to write them. Because it's part of my identity, who I am and I can't imagine not doing it.

While this is a completely valid reason (some would say the only valid reason) to write, I find myself wondering....How do you know if that's true? How do you know if you're doing it for purely internal reasons or not?

So now I have a question for all you wonderful writer types. A mythical creature comes to you and offer you two choices. You must pick one to be true for the rest of your life.

1. You will never lack for words. Writing will always be a joy, and plots and characters will always come when called. Writer's block will be an unpleasant myth, and everything you love about the act of writing will stay will you for the rest of your life.

BUT, no one will ever publish what you've written, and no one but your close friends and family will ever know your work.


2. You will achieve literary success. Anything you dream--NYT bestsellerdom, excellent literary reviews, awards--anything you want will be yours for the taking. You will make enough money to write full time, and never have to do anything else for the rest of your life.

BUT, writing will always be difficult. You will suffer writer's block and intense periods of dryness. Even at its best writing will be mechanical, like fixing a drainpipe. You will find satisfaction in your work, but never again know the delerious joy of creation.

Which would you choose?


  1. Lol I'm going to be terrible and take the unwritten option.

    I will say: "Thanks, mythical creature, but I'm happy just the way I am."

    That way, I can still enjoy pure creation. The feeling will be even more special because of the rarity.

    And I can publish if I want.

    Just because I drive myself insane when I don't write (and I do) doesn't mean that I only write for myself. There is an sense of deep gratification to know that my voice might one day outlive my body.

    It is not the reason why I write, but it is the reason why I will try to get published.

    Hope that helped. :-)

  2. I'm taking the second option. Writing isn't my first or only passion. I write to share my work with spirit and healing. I also have a motgage :)

  3. Misha- Taking the middle road, eh? I see what you did there. :) Your explanation is actually really good, and I'll be interested to see how many others pick that option.

    Simon- Life would be so much easier without pesky mortgages and grocery bills and whatnot, wouldn't it? I like how you know exactly why you write, that's very cool.

  4. I would take number 2. I already struggle, so I'd continue doing that, but have much success. That sounds rather like pay your dues and reap much reward.

  5. Definitely #2, without any hesitation. Writing isn't just about putting words on the page, but about connecting with a reader in that aha moment, or yes! moment. So though I might not have the delirious joy of creation, I will have the joy of the meeting of the minds.

  6. I write so I can sleep... and I've never particularly wanted to be famous or even published. I write because the stories are there in my head and they'll only be exorcised by writing them out. It's not a healthy way of living by any means, but suffering from a block where the words are stuck in my head... terrifies me. I'd pick number one and be possibly more happy that way when it comes right down to it.

  7. Ooo, an interesting question.

    I'm with Joanne on this one. Option 2.

    I love to write, absolutely. But I also want to share my stories with others. And really, the best way to share that is with publication.

    I used to feel so mercenary and unromantic for wanting to be published so badly. But I've come to terms with the fact that it's NOT about the money. It's about the audience.

    I would gladly take a 0$ advance, if I were published by one of the big six who could get my books to a wide audience.

  8. I'm like Misha. I'll take the middle road. I like the way I am as a writer. And I'll take my chances when I'm ready.

    Writing, for me, is something I have to do. It is something that is so much a part of me that NOT doing it is painful. Writer's block can cripple me at times, and it's not a pleasant sensation. One day, yes, I'd love to be published. I'd like to know someone else is enjoying the stories that I have created.

    But I write for myself first and foremost. Then I write for an audience. Sometimes it works very well. Other times...let's just say those times STAY in the "just for me" folder. XD

  9. Helen- I could see that... I suppose either way you're still writing, right?

    Joanne- Hmm.... connection seems to be a popular choice. Would it be fair to say then that you write primarily to connect with the world around you?

  10. Wendy- Just for you, the mythical creature will throw in a bonus. You'll never have writer's block OR insomnia again. :) (This is the point that I wish I had super powers and could actually do stuff like that.)

    Renee- I'm intrigued by this whole success=connection theme that's developing here. VERY interesting... *rubs hands together evilly*

    Annika- Abstaining, eh? Hmmm.... I guess I'll allow it. *grin* Also, I have a folder like that too. I think everyone does.

  11. Yeah, I'd pick #2, as it's already a struggle at times. But I'd have secret joy in it, 'cause I'm a rebel and I don't totally follow rules! hahahha.
    No, really what an awful choice! The reality falls somewhere in the middle fo the two, wouldn't you agree?

  12. Catherine- It is an awful choice, isn't it? Hopefully reality isn't this harsh. I asked the question because I'm curious about the core of why people do what they do. How much of the writing life can you take away before it becomes not-worth-it to someone?

  13. I want to ask the mythical creature if he could instead make it so I could eat anything that I want to eat and maintain a healthy weight? If I could have that, I'd be happy being the precious reader with my slimming hot cocoa and tiramisu cake. I hope that doesn't sound selfish? Oh my...but I hate going shopping for new clothes and not being able to fit into them.

  14. I completely understand Michael. :) The mythical creature grants your request.


  15. I never really thought about it that way, but yes, I would say that the meeting of the minds is a big part of the writing equation. Not the only part, but it's significant.

  16. I'm late coming to this, but after thinking about it, I'd have to choose number 1. Number 2 would be tempting, but the real thing that keeps me going is the joy of creating. If that were gone, why would I want to keep writing? Just to get a paycheck? I think I would end up quitting if I lost that joy.

  17. Joanne- This is why I ask random questions like that. Because I'm curious about what parts things like connection and money and joy play in our choices.

    Rebecca- Excellent. We needed more people on Team number 1. :)


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