After the welcome post, the first article I wanted to write about was one of the essential parts of the writing process: The Why & The What.
First of all, let me hit you with the why, and ask you to ask yourself a question:
Why do you write?
It’s a simple question. Or is it? Have you ever asked yourself this question before? Have you ever been truthful with your answer rather than the refined version you tell others, or what you tell the imaginary interviewer you often speak with when in private? Don’t worry. We’ve all been there. Writing can be both a calling and a career choice, and often it is both. But by knowing the answers to such a question, you will be able to prepare for the next part of your writing journey.
I’ve been writing stories in my spare time since my early teens, but I never wanted to be a writer back then. I despised my English Language lessons and didn’t get English Literature at all (sorry fellow writers), so being an author was never an inspiration for me. Getting my imagination down on paper was fun though. Making my vision come alive in a way that I enjoyed receiving it, e.g. via books, was such a rush, a great release as the characters and stories I created became three-dimensional. I loved it. But whereas today I have come to appreciate the written word in most of its forms, wanting to be an author back then was akin to being a pop star. And let’s say, that out of the two dream career options, I would have preferred to have become a pop star. Not now though. Nowadays being a pop star looks like too much hard work. But of course, no one says pop star anymore either, so I suppose that goes against me, also.
Writing has stuck with me, always hovering in the background, forever in my life like the memory of first love. But still, throughout my late teens and early twenties, I never really wanted to be an author. Not until it hit me one day that I could do it. I could write a novel. From that moment on, a different hunger brewed within me. It wasn’t going to be enough to write it. I wanted people to read it. Many people to read it. And I wanted to be an author. I wanted to sell books. Yep. I finally decided that I wanted to make a career out of it—even though it felt silly, more like a dream than a reality. But still, the burn was there, and it didn’t go away, urging me to ride with it and to take the plunge finally. So, in conclusion, when I ask myself the question, ‘why do I write?’ I can say, in essence, it’s because I crave to bring my imagination to life—to give the characters a voice, the settings, a home. I want to get it out of my head and onto paper so it can come alive, becoming the story I’ve always wanted to read.
“If there is a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” ~ Toni Morrison
But what about the next part:
Once you’ve put pen to paper, what then? What comes next? That’s another question you need to ask yourself. One where you need to be honest, and one where you should identify with the answer before you start the next step of the writing process. If we can’t be honest with ourselves, who can we be?
There are different roads to travel depending on your answer, and that is why I find this question to be an important one. It doesn’t matter if you only want to keep the finished story to yourself, to read and fall into whenever you want to escape. That’s great. So is just wanting to write it to share with friends and family or a smaller audience. That’s your personal choice, and no one can take that away from you. But know it’s also okay to want to write and get it out to the masses, to try to make a career out of it. There is no right answer, only a truthful one because that’s when you can determine the next steps and focus on your journey, your vision and your strategy.
Is writing a smooth road? No. It’s not. You’re creating something that is part of you, that holds your essence, and in most cases, putting it out to the world to read, love and critique. That’s never a comfortable journey. There are also lots of lessons to learn, but when you’re following your passion, you will welcome them as you grow into your own. There will be challenges, no matter what route you choose, but when you’re ready to take the pathway you’ve chosen, you’ll handle it. And do you know what? You’ll be a lot better writer for it. So be honest with yourself. Take the first step. Or, if you’re already in the writing process, take some time to reflect. What drives you to write? And what do you want to happen next? Take the key hidden within your answers and open the door.
Good luck on your chosen journey!