When I was a kid, my favorite question was “Why?” Everything my parents said to me I would respond with “Why?” until they got so fed up they ended up saying something like “because I said so” or “that’s the way it is.”

What I’ve found, though, is as we get older, we accept things the way they are and stop asking why.

Knowing why you are doing something is important. I offer you two view-points of writing a book.

“I don’t know much about creative writing programs. But they’re not telling the truth if they don’t teach, one, that writing is hard work, and, two, that you have to give up a great deal of life, your personal life, to be a writer.” – Doris Lessing

“I’ve never worked a day in my life. I’ve never worked a day in my life. The joy of writing has propelled me from day to day and year to year. I want you to envy me, my joy. Get out of here tonight and say: ‘Am I being joyful?’ And if you’ve got a writer’s block, you can cure it this evening by stopping whatever you’re writing and doing something else. You picked the wrong subject.” — Ray Bradbury at The Sixth Annual Writer’s Symposium by the Sea, 2001

I agree with both of these quotes, even though, on the surface, they are contradictory. Writing is hard “work” in that it takes up most of your time and, as Doris Lessing said, you will sacrifice much of your personal life for your dream. By the same token, writing should not be a “job”. You should write because you love your characters and story. If you can’t find that passion, then maybe, as Mr. Bradbury suggested, you’re writing about the wrong subject.

Newsflash, writing a book takes a lot of discipline. As I said in my “Schedule of a Working Writer” post, if you don’t have the willpower and discipline to write for 2-3 hours after you’ve done your day job – maybe you shouldn’t be a writer.

To accomplish anything you must have a clear understanding of WHY you are doing it. If you don’t know your why, you’ll end up wasting a lot of time, getting frustrated, and most likely, quitting.

So ask yourself:

Why do you want to write? 

About Joshua G. Silverman