Why Do You Write? (An Idea Revisited Two Years Later)

If you’re reading this, I assume you want to be or already are a writer. I also assume that there’s a decent chance you want to be a full-time author. So, if that’s you, let me ask you two difficult questions: Why do you write? And why do you want to be a full-time author, when there are hundreds of easier career options?

writing and coffeeNow, your gut instinct is probably something like, “Come on, Kate! Writing is my life. Those questions are so easy!”

But do me a favor and really think about it. I’ll give you a personal anecdote while you ponder your own situation …

After my recent move from New Haven to the Bay Area, I’ve had a difficult time getting back in my creative groove. I have a lot of perfectly valid excuses: organizing the new place, adjusting to a new work and household routine, exploring new shops and landmarks, to name a few. But, I think I finally understand the real issue.

Whenever I meet new people, I introduce myself as a writer. I include my novelist side, but I always admit, with a twinge of unnecessary shame, that my books don’t pay the bills. I’m “really” a copywriter for a wine marketing company (which has actually helped my fiction writing). It sounds super-sexy on paper, and while most of the time I just stare at a computer screen like every other office worker, it is a great job. Though I’m still the lowest rung on the company ladder, I could make copywriting/marketing a long-term career. And I think it would make me happy.

It would be SO. MUCH. EASIER. to just let go of my author ambitions and relax into the 9-to-5 life. I’m NOT saying every 9-to-5 job is easy, and I’m definitely challenged at my work, but giving up the author stuff would relieve me of several challenges. I could stop spending nights and weekends at the computer. I could stop heaping guilt on myself when I don’t meet my creative goals. I could stop spending hard-earned, harder-saved money on editing, cover designs, and marketing expenses. I could stop all the other nuisances of indie authorship and still call myself a professional writer.

Live your dreamBack to you: your situation is obviously much different from mine. Maybe you’re working a job you loathe. Maybe you have tons of extra money to shower on self-publishing. Maybe you view writing solely as a career and aren’t bothered by any of the emotional, passionate aspects.

Still, I ask again: Why do you write? And why do you want to be a full-time author?

(If you’re a fan of the Sterling & Stone trio, you can probably guess that I’m a big believer in Sean’s “Know Your Why” mantra, which this insightful article discusses more eloquently than I can.)

While contemplating this question, I remembered a blog post I wrote over two years ago. It lists the reasons why I write, along with some great additions from fellow writers in the comments. They all still hold true, but they don’t answer why I want to write fiction professionally and not just as a hobby.

After giving it some careful thought and seriously evaluating my larger personal/life goals, here are a few of my reasons:

Writing is my greatest passion.
Writing is my most employable skill.
Creative satisfaction means more to me than conventional success.
I want to be my own boss and set my own working hours.
I want the freedom to vacation when and how I choose.
I want to work be able to work from anywhere in the world.
I don’t want to regularly manage other people.
I don’t want to give up my dream to help someone else achieve theirs.
I love storytelling.
I want the opportunity to make my daily work meaningful and valuable.
I want to entertain, inform, and educate others.
I want to make a difference in the world and provide a source of escape for others.

Conclusion? Being a full-time writer both satisfies my creative passions and provides several practical benefits that “regular” jobs cannot.

If you’re in a similar situation to me (and I know at least one of my friends reading this is), do yourself a favor and ask these questions. You might realize that writing is just a hobby for you — and that is 100% awesome. Or (more likely, I bet), you’ll realize that full-time authorship is really the career you want. If that’s the case, you’ll be armed with a list of reasons to keep you motivated when the going gets tough. And trust me, it will get tough.

But, if you’ve made it all the way to the end of this post, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s also wholly, completely, utterly worth it.


Leave your reasons in the comments and cheer on your fellow authors. If you’re already living the full-time dream, I’d love to hear whether your “why” remains true now that you’ve reached your goal. 

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12 thoughts on “Why Do You Write? (An Idea Revisited Two Years Later)

  1. leathehatless says:

    This was a very helpful post. To be honest at this moment of my life I just want to focus on the most important part, writing. That is what I like to do. I have so much to worry about outside that I don’t really feel like thinking about writing as another job.

    So far I will just have fun with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. R. J. Nello says:

    So much to say on the “self-supporting” author issue…

    Kate, I don’t know if you saw this post of mine. I wrote it back in late January. It is easiest just to link to it here if you don’t mind: https://rjnello.wordpress.com/2017/01/31/my-gone-with-the-wind-i-laughed/

    It includes my recollections on the writing-working life experience of my self-supporting now late author uncle I knew well and loved very much. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. mirymom says:

    The truth is I like doing hard things. I like feeling like my brain and heart and soul have been pushed to new levels, like I had to grow in order to meet a goal. I’ve had a “regular” “easy” job a couple of times in my life and I about died of boredom. So, I teach and I write, and I am challenged all the time.

    It’s also about my need to feel like my work matters, in a global sense, that I make a difference. So, I write for the same reasons that I teach. It’s who I am.

    @mirymom1 from
    Balancing Act

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kate M. Colby says:

      You are so inspiring! I love your answer, and I agree. While it’s easy to slip into certain paths, being constantly challenged is much more satisfying in the long run. There’s a great deal of pride and accomplishment to be had in encouraging ourselves to learn, grow, and help others.

      Liked by 1 person

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