Conclusions, part 1

Some very interesting discussions developed over the last few posts. Originally it started with me asking you "Why do you do what you do?"

The vast majority answered that question with something along the lines of "Because I have to. It's who I am."

While that answer might be true (and it's one I've used) I think ultimately it's a lazy answer. Everyone says it, including the people who quit. Identifying yourself as a writer because that's just who you are is a little like saying "I'm in love, I just can't help it." Something will eventually come along to destroy that shaky foundation.

It's shaky, because as people we change all the time. Circumstances change us, tragedy changes us, life in general changes us. Especially those of us who are not content with the status quo. As long as we seek to grow, we will change.

Linking your writing exclusively to your identity is also dangerous. If the writing goes away for some reason, such as sickness or carpal tunnel, your identity goes poof. Without knowing why you write, you cannot find other ways to scratch that itch when writing becomes unavailable. And it becomes harder to find reasons to continue in the face of rejection and discouragement.

So, being the closet mad scientist I am, I kept asking questions.

 How do you feel NOW! Bwahahaha!

I was trying to determine how much of what we call "the writing life" I could take away before people gave up. What was most important to you about writing? I found three basic things.

1. The joy of creating

This was the first thing I took away, and a couple of people stopped right there. Even if no one ever read them, these people wanted to keep writing for sheer joy of it. BUT, they had more specific responses then just "that's who I am." My favorite response was Wendy who said simply

"I write so I can sleep."

2. Connecting with readers

This was the thing most of my commenters valued overall. They chose connecting with readers over never having writer's block, and then again chose connection over earning money.  I imagine that a lot of writers write because they want to connect with others. They want to share the dreams and visions that spin inside their heads. They want to read other's dreams and visions and be swept away.

3. Earning money.

A few people chose to give up the joy of creation and settle for a small audience as long as they could earn money.  What I found most interesting about those people was that they equated earning money with being able to continue to write. It wasn't so much that they wanted riches as they wanted to be able to live the life of a full time writer.  As long as they were still writing, and had at least some audience, they were happy.

So those were my conclusions from the grand "why do you do this" experiment.

Have I missed anything? What did you learn this week?

(Joanne asked me on Monday where I stood on these things, and I fully intend to answer. In a separate post. On Saturday. )


  1. Hmmm that is interesting. Pretty much sums me up.


  2. This was a fun post that got us thinking. It's interesting to see the different angles the comments brought to the board. Looking forward to your answers!

  3. Misha- I know, right? I think it describes a lot of us in one way or another.

    Joanne- You will get them! I wanted to do them today but I felt it made the post too long. Glad you enjoyed the questions, though!

  4. This really got me thinking as I fall under almost every category there. I find that I love to write, it's become my thing, but I've yet to do anything about it.

    Nice post, by the way. :)

  5. Have Mercy- Thank you. :) I really enjoyed reading everyone's responses. It was lots of fun.

  6. Interesting though I didn't participate in the poll. I definitely write to be creative. I'm realistic to realize #2 & #3 may not ever happen. Though I hope they do.

  7. Natalie- A little dose of realism is not always a bad thing. But slightly bigger dose of optimism is useful too. :)


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