What’s Your “Why?”

As fiction writers, it’s important to know why we write.

So many books, so little time

Writing is fun for most of us when we’re first starting out, before we know all the “rules” and reader expectations (and publisher guidelines, if one’s going that way). But that initial passion eventually fades, and writing can become work, even if it’s still fun. Without that “why,” it’s easy to get stalled out, put projects aside and never finish anything, and finally lose interest when the writing stops being fun (which often happens when the writing gets to being just for the money).

Nonfiction writers write because they have information to share that will help others or teach, or perhaps they want to share their own story for future generations. Fiction writers have stories to tell, characters that show up and won’t stop talking to us, or feelings and ideas we need to express. For both, writing can be therapy, and just plain fun; a means of entertaining ourselves. There are probably as many reasons “why” as there are writers.

For me, it’s having stories to tell and characters who won’t go away. Except they’ve grown quieter lately, which may be why I haven’t been writing as much. But the stories are still there, so I continue to write, even if it’s at a glacially slow pace.

It’s equally as important to know your “why” when it comes to personal finance and savings. Whether you’re saving money for retirement, a child’s education (or your own), for a vacation, a new home, or a car, our “why” has to matter enough to sustain us through the times when it’s hard to save, like when we’d rather go shopping or out for dinner and drinks one more time.

For most of the personal finance bloggers I read, their “why” is a desire to not have to spend so much time at a job, and instead have that time to spend with their families or working on a project they have a passion for–maybe even fiction writing! That’s certainly a big part of my “why”–with my fatigue, by the time I put in my eight hours’ work, then come home, fix dinner, and clean up, there typically just isn’t anything left. It’s hard to be creative when you’re tired, both physically and mentally. (Those people who say it’s good to write when you’re tired? Good for them–I can’t.) There are other things I’d like to spend my time doing rather than work, too. And also, there’s the worry that by the time we’re able to quit working for a traditional retirement in our mid-sixties, we won’t have the health and energy to enjoy it. For me, even five years early will help.

What I’ve been Reading: Ghostly Interlude by Stacy McKitrick. I loved this book! (And not just because Stacy’s a friend of mine. :)) It’s a paranormal romance, where a ghost is what brings the couple together, but is also part of what keeps them apart. The ghost is a fun character and obviously key to the story, but it reads like a contemporary romance with a bit of mystery, so readers who don’t normally go for paranormal would probably enjoy this. Highly recommended!

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What I’ve been Writing: Doing a little better this week. My bar was very low, so I did meet my goal! I finished the scene I’d been stuck on for weeks, and then wrote the next. That’s not as exciting as it sounds though, as that next scene was a very short one. All in all, I wrote about two pages. But still, that’s something! So my goal this week is to complete the current scene, which I expect to be longer and not so easy.

What about you–if you’re a writer or someone who’s saving money, what’s your why? Or maybe another goal–what’s your why there? Read anything good lately? How are you doing on whatever goals you might have, whether writing or otherwise? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

10 Responses to \

  1. You must feel lighter if you’ve finished something you were stuck on!
    I write for similar reasons, to tell and share the stories I have in mind.
    As for saving money, right now it’s for buying a house of our own at long last.

  2. I’ve always said that I write because I can’t NOT write. Those characters get in my head and beg me to tell their story. I’ve got this one little girl whose been in my head for years and she never says anything, she just looks at me with these big blue eyes. I wish she would talk, because I don’t know what her story is which makes it so hard to write. But I keep hoping.

    As I may have mentioned before, I am saving money so that I can retire early as well. Unfortunately, my husband, who is retiring in June, isn’t on the same page with that. I’ve told him we can afford for him to retire, but he doesn’t get that that means cutting back on some of the spending.

    Oh, well, we will muddle through.

    Have a great week and best wishes with those tiny steps in the writing journey.

  3. I write to make sense of life, to cope with things, and because my characters won’t leave me alone. 🙂

    Nice work on the writing! Progress is good!

  4. Two pages is progress, even if it’s not as much as you’d hoped for. Writing for children, well, there’s no money in it until we get ten books out in our series. We’re continuing on because our grandchildren want more and some of our other fans have outgrown our books. That’s the problem with children’s books. They grow up before you can get them all written!

    I’m switching to YA books and nonfiction in addition to the children’s books. Those are for the love of my grandkids. My edgy YA is the one my writer friends say is my best work and it will probably do well once I finish it and get it out there. I can’t write when I’m tired. If I could, I’d have a hundred books published already. So it’s slow going for me, too. Hey, at least we’re continuing on and that’s something to be proud of! I’m passionate about getting the info out there about how to reduce our risk of dementia, so I’ll continue to research and write about that subject and other health issues. The slice-of-life stories are great therapy and I have so much fun with those. Have a wonderful week, Jennette.

  5. That is a very good question and I sometimes ask myself why am I writing? Sometimes I don’t have an answer. Then I question whether or not I should even keep doing it. I have stories flying around in my brain but I don’t seem to the have determination to put them down on paper. So . . . why am I determined to be a writer? I don’t know. I do enjoy the process, once I get into it, but I always seem to have more reasons for not writing than I do for writing. Maybe it’s the cancer drugs fogging my brain and zapping my strength. Maybe, it’s like you say, I too worried about the rules and whether or not I’ll be successful that it’s quashing my ability to just get down to the basics and write the stories. Who knows. Hopefully I get it figured out pretty soon.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  6. Jennette, this couldn’t have come at a better time. I tell my teen writing students this all the time—that the going will get rough and you have to have a reason and desire to write when it’s flagging. I’m going to send them the link and read the first part of this post to them in class, as well. Thank you!

  7. Why? Because it’s a burning desire inside. I am more complete, happier when I’m writing. Yay for your writing progress! Give yourself kudos for getting that done! You know, no why can withstand a constant nag of ‘it’s not enough.’ It’s what you could do on this day, Celebrate! Tomorrow you start again.*grin*

  8. Ruichan – getting that scene finished was definitely a relief. Good luck saving toward a home!

    Chris – having characters in our heads, but they aren’t talking is tough, isn’t it? It’s also tough to save for a goal when your partner isn’t on board. Sometimes showing them data helps. Good luck with yours!

    Erin, thanks!

    Lynn, what great “why”s! I’ve been enjoying your blogs about staving off Alzheimer’s – good luck on the books, too!

    Patricia, sometimes it’s hard for me to remember “why” too. Especially when I’m having a really bad fatigue day. I hope your treatment’s done soon, and successful – and that you rediscover your writing joy! Until then, be kind to yourself.

    Wow, Lynette, I’m honored! Thanks for sharing with your students!

    Lynette Burrows, so true about that “never enough” nagging. And thanks for the reminder to celebrate what we can do today!

  9. I’m so GLAD you enjoyed Ghostly Interlude! Thanks for mentioning it.

    As for my why, which is why do I write… Used to be a burning desire and I’d find any time to get a few words written. Now? It’s become a job. Not the writing so much, but the SELLING. I really don’t enjoy that part. I need to give up the idea that I’m doing this to make a living, because that’s not why I started. I started because it was fun and might bring in some extra money. It’s time I forget about marketing (because clearly I suck at it) and go back to enjoying writing for what it is. I’ll certainly be happier for it.

  10. Stacy, I LOVED Interlude!

    And I am with you 100% on the writing/marketing. I suck at the latter, too! And I just don’t have the time and energy to really devote to it so I really don’t have much choice but to focus on getting the next book out. Good luck with yours!