WHY Are We Writers? Understanding the Why Behind the Buy


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Now that NaNoWrMo is finished, congratulations to those who WON. I only made it to a little over 34,000 words *sad face*, but I did it with Shingles so I am grading myself on a curve 😛 . As a writer, being delusional is totally acceptable. I’m actually not too far from finishing the novel, so I’m happy I tried.


For those who might be tempted to go back and edit? I recommend stepping AWAY. Work on something different or the odds of you seeing the problems aren’t too great.

Which is why we are shifting gears here on the blog and we’re going to talk about branding and social media. Oh, the cries of despair! Hey, I am here. No worries *hands paper bag*.

Here’s the thing. Nobody has to do social media. I won’t force you. The only writers who need to create a brand and do social media are writers who want to sell books.

Simple 😀 .

A New Perspective

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Sally Jean

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Sally Jean

I think it was in roughly 2004 when I was fiddling around on Friendster and Gather that I saw the potential ahead. For generations, novelists had a DISMAL success rate. Why?

Unlike NF authors of the time, we had NO practical way to build a platform before the books were released. We also had a nightmare of a time keeping fan fires burning between books because NYC was tooled (and mostly still is) to produce about a book a year.

That was fine back in the 90s. We weren’t a society who could walk around shopping on our phones. We weren’t addicted to apps and gaga over downloadable content. By 2007, purchasing had changed and we needed to respect that to remain relevant.

Social media and the Internet fundamentally altered our culture. It’s a cake that can’t be unbaked. This means it’s our responsibility to change as well.

The Golden Circle

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Image via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve actually used Apple as an example since my first book years ago, because they’re a perfect illustration of what we’re talking about. One of the many reasons that Apple Inc. surpassed others in multiple industries is they understood the difference between innovation and novelty.

Innovation is long-lasting. Novelty is short-term. Rather than beginning at the outside of the circle, the WHAT, Apple began with the WHY.

Sure, a Mac had a great processor and was immune to most viruses and megabyte, tera-byte, whatever-byte….but look how COOL I look at Starbucks with my white laptop. I support innovation, creativity. I challenge the status quo…and I LOOK COOL.

Rather than relying on gimmicks and short-term novelty, Apple created a culture. A culture that was loyal and didn’t need a bunch of free stuff and was willing to cough up retail price.


Most of us remember the earlier days of cell phones. This one TAKES PICTURES. Oooh, this one is FLAT. The cell phones got so small it was simply ludicrous. Why? Because novelty is pretty easy to copy and maybe even “improve” upon.” Novelty is fleeting and rarely cements relationships.

One of the reasons Apple demolished the music industry was Apple appreciated the changes in the consumer climate. Tower Records was still scope-locked on creating and selling LPs. The problem was that music originally was something enjoyed at home…until the Walkman, then later portable CD players, MP3s, etc.

Music became portable.

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Consumers wanted to be able to go anywhere and enjoy their favorite songs, thus Apple spring-boarded off other technologies like the MP3 and made music personal. “A thousand songs in your pocket.” Personal, intimate, and simple. Apple invented the song industry. At first it was with the iPod, but then Apple merged music with our PHONES

Instead of blasting us with features we didn’t understand, Apple focused on WHY, not WHAT. Why carry an iPod and a cell phone when ONE is better than two?

What Does This Have to Do With Social Media?

One of the reasons I got into the whole social media business, was that it was clear that the consumer environment was fundamentally shifting. Yet too many companies were relying on tactics that either wouldn’t work, or wouldn’t work long-term. Any gains were (and still are) short-term.

Worse, the old methods are stressful for both the seller and the buyer.

To this DAY, I have to talk writers off a ledge when I mention social media.

My background is in sales, and I’ve witnessed this phenomenon time and again. Sure, lower the price. You’ll never be able to raise it. Give away free stuff, promotional stuff, t-shirts, free thumb-drives, pens, on and on and eventually? People are addicted to how much stuff they can get for nothing. There is zero loyalty.

This means one marketing tactic (algorithm) will work great…for a while. Then everyone starts using the same approach and it fizzles. This leaves the seller (author) with a panic attack and a migraine and less time to write more books.

Not only can the quasi-science of 90s-style marketing fail to cultivate loyalty, it can create something worse. Apathy. Beyond apathy, outdated marketing can poison a brand.

These tactics can create resentment, even hatred.

Just get 12 tweets in your feed about a free book and tell me you don’t see red.

Over the many years I have been doing social media, I have seen the same guerrilla tactics retooled and Bond-Oed. Marketing companies selling Facebook followers, Twitter followers, advertising, e-mail lists, promising reviews, etc. etc. And make no mistake, I’m not saying this stuff might not work. I’ve seen it work. Eh, kind of.

But what is the effect of years of making short-term decisions?

Which is WHY W.A.N.A. (We Are Not Alone) Began with WHY

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Why do people buy books? Why do regular people believe they don’t like reading? Why does traditional marketing not sell more books (and never has)? Why is spam SO ineffective?

Why do so many writers give up? Fail to finish? Why are they overwhelmed?

Once I began with the WHY, I could move to the WHAT and then the HOW.

And I am going to tread carefully here, because W.A.N.A.’s success has never been about me. Without YOU, it’s just me talking to myself (which I already do far more than is healthy 😀 ). But I saw so many writers running from the single greatest tool for success (a strong platform) out of fear, and this defined my WHY.


YOU are not alone.

I don’t build platforms or tweet for people or build fan pages. I don’t blog for people and have no services to sell that will find followers or score reviews. Never have. Never will. Yes, writers of The Digital Age need a strong brand/platform, but no one ever said you had to do it by yourself.

So today we are going to start with something SIMPLE.

WHY are you writing? What is your WHY? If it is to make money? Find another job or change the WHY. People are very sensitive these days and can smell manipulation a mile away…and it gives them digital HIVES.

So if our only goal on social media to hawk a book? Formula to fail.

We will start with my WHYs to make it clearer. This is VERY redacted for the sake of time. But our WHY is our foundation and it’s worthy of considering and even articulating. It’s our mission statement.

WHY do I write social media books and blog?

Because when I started as a writer I was VERY alone. I struggled because of poor or even totally false information. I had no system of emotional support to be there during countless rejections. I HATED being alone and never wanted others to feel abandoned and hopeless.

I also saw the “current” way of doing social media (roughly 2008) was short-term. I sought to INNOVATE the notion of how we did social media and REINVENT the idea of a brand. It was less about exposure and all about community and relationships. We’d learn to be deeper, not cheaper.

I blog because I love the community, serving, and if you guys don’t want to buy my book? Most of the information you need is free and in my archives, because my WHY is SERVICE.

***Though the book is a lot faster and I am not AT ALL opposed to you buying one 🙂 .

WHY do I write fiction?

I love to tell stories and entertain. I like to escape, to enjoy another world, and want to use my gift with words to do the same for others. Take them on an adventure. Maybe I can even help them learn a little about themselves along the way.

So let’s talk about YOU. Why do YOU want to be a writer? Why did you choose vampires instead of werewolves? Why erotica? Romance over thrillers? Mystery over YA? Why children’s books? And why does this matter to your readers? Why should it? 😉

It’s there. We all have to dig deep for the good stuff and I would LOVE to hear your whys. You guys always inspire me, so DANCE CUTE LITTLE MONKE—-, um share your thoughts 😀 .

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of DECEMBER, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook


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  1. Thank you, I needed to read this. Reflection time! After the caffeinated swirl that was NaNoWriMo 2014, I can focus on my true purpose again instead of frenzied word making.

  2. Great insight

  3. I write because I love stories and I love to explore, learn new things, gain greater insights,entertain. How else can we explore our exterior world and our interior landscape if not through stories, both real and imagined?

  4. For me, I write romance because I think hope is important–and in the end, love and hope is entirely the POINT of the romance genre–no matter whether it’s real world contemporary romance or the fanged and furry variety in paranormal. Love conquers all in the end and I think that message is so so important in our world where we’re constantly bombarded with negativity.

  5. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog….. An Author Promotions Enterprise! and commented:
    AUTHORS – Something to think about 😀

  6. Excellent post, Kristen. I write erotic romance/erotica because I’ve been lucky enough to find have an enduring relationship where we’re more passionate today than we were 20+ years ago; however, most couples I know tell me their sex lives are not any fun. So, I’m sharing our passion in the form of stories and fantasies and hoping to help couples “Feed your fantasies!”

  7. What a great question and thank you as always for the wonderful post. I write because I was born to. There was never any question of what I would be when I grew up. It’s God gift He’s given me and I plan to use it for as long as I’m here. Speculative fiction and romances are my two loves with my desire to always use interracial (or mixed ethnic or whatever the political correct term is) characters like Octavia Butler, a pioneer in this kind of thing. I want to let readers know that our various ethnic backgrounds are God’s brushstrokes of color, not our labels. Descriptive, not indicative to the kind of people we are. Plus, stories connect people and the best part about being a writer is connected with all kinds of people.

  8. Reblogged this on Lilith Darville (Erotic Writer) and commented:
    Check out Kristen’s Blog | http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/

  9. Kristen, what a great question . . . one I’ve been asking myself a lot lately as I pull my hair out over pre-publishing production things, such as formatting. We love to write, we love the stories we write, and we love our characters, and we hope readers will love it half as much as we do.

    Thank you always for keeping me (and other writers) grounded. I always look forward to your blog post.

    • robin witt on December 1, 2014 at 12:18 pm
    • Reply

    Thanks for a great post! 🙂
    I’m writing because I want stories that I, my friend, and her preteen/young teen daughters can all enjoy. And that contain what I consider to be realistic female role models and relationships. 🙂

    And I comment because I want to win that free critique. 😉

    Have a great day! And congrats on your NaNo success. 🙂 every forward!

  10. Kristen, I write because I’m compelled to continue helping people learn about HR and leadership issues. Writing books, newspaper columns, newsletters and now a blog is a great way to do that now that I’m “retired.” I still have much to teach, and writing is my vehicle for doing that.

  11. I am writing so that the voices in my head will stop hounding me. I write to exorcise literary demons. I write for the joy of filling a page and then chortling, or crying, at my desk over what I have just done to some unsuspecting character. This makes writing in public kind of embarrassing. Lastly, I write to avoid housework. My house is a mess, but my writing is prolific. It’s a win-win.

  12. Reblogged this on TheDustSeason and commented:
    Here is the latest from Kristen Lamb. I am stealing….I mean…reblogging in the hopes I will garner fame by association! Bring on the slavishly devout fans…of someone else’s writing. I’m not proud.

  13. Wonderful post. My sister and I were just talking about some of these points this weekend. Always refreshing to read your post. You have such a wonderful perspective. thanks

  14. Firstly, Kristin, thank you! You perhaps let someone with their first novel, knocked out in NANO (and that’s an accomplishment!), know it doesn’t need to be published in time for Christmas.

    On my end, I write what I like to read and what I know, and it’s turned out well so far. Writing is not a race after cash, it’s a passion. It is a matter of taking every day to reach a little farther and do a little more to take another step toward perfection. This is not a race. It’s a lifetime.

  15. Thanks for this. Great boost for us all.

  16. A perfect example of the Constant Giveaway Mode is how much I personally, now, ignore the zillions of emails in my inbox every single day yelling at me to buy their .99 book. God help me but after 20 some books out there, I know how much I “make” on a .99 book buy. It’s about 7.5 cents. So I’m going to back way off of that method myself now that I’m Going All In(die).
    As for why I write….hmmm……so I can tell everybody I do it?
    The reasons change daily….
    great post as usual! sharing!

  17. Thanks, Kristen, for the wise advice to step away from our NaNoWriMo novel for a spell. November’s writing was so intense that I even had a dream about one of my main characters. In the dream he ate three hamburgers in one sitting (I wonder if he’s mad that I only served him one in the first chapter?) He’ll have to wait awhile before I go back and fix that…

    I want to be a writer because I love to make people laugh, cry, and ponder.

    Blessings ~ Wendy ?

  18. As I knock out my 3rd book, and wander in the field of agents and editor”s comments, my website languishes. Just bought your book. I’ll read it on my trip next week and hope it energizes my SM presence. Thanks for this.

  19. Reblogged this on Felicia Jane: Writer Extraordinarie and commented:
    WHY? That is a very good question. I’ve found myself wondering why I write because it often seems like I’m a dog chasing my tale (wink wink).
    I write because I need to explore the innards of my mind but I can’t just ask myself how do you feel? So I create characters that struggle with what I struggle with. I open pandora’s box to reveal the ugly truths and the flesh out some of the beautiful ones. When I don’t write I feel as though bugs are crawling under my skin and that feeling is enough to send me searching for a notepad and a pen.

  20. I write because I feel alive and motivated when I’m creating.
    I want to be a published writer because books have saved my life more than once. If I can be that rope-in-a-wild-sea for a teenager (first time reading saved me) or a mother struggling with UN-diagnosed depression (2nd save), I want to be that author who made a difference. Not to the world, but to one reader who needed to hear what I had to say at that moment.
    You do this for me, Kristen, and I thank you for this blog and your books.

  21. Did somebody say branding? Love it, but then I live in the advertising world. Well done branding is about truth and substance. You have to be something before you can convince other people to care, which is a decent description of writing. There has to be truth in your fiction and real people and real emotions, and I guess that’s why I write, because I want to turn a blank page into truth.

  22. Reblogged this on A.J. Sendall and commented:
    Thanks for another insightful, thought provoking post, Kristen.
    I still search for the core of ‘why’. It can be simple to name some of the outer reasons, but more difficult to mine down to the heart.

    Keep up the good work.

  23. Thank you for the post and please keep them coming. I look forward to them popping up in my Inbox!

  24. At the moment, I’m in the middle (literally, in the middle) of both of your books, “We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media” and “Rise of the Machines.” And I’m terrified, not gonna lie. I’ve stepped my toes in the waters of Twitter and FB, but I still have no real clue what I’m doing. Your books are my bibles going forward, so we’ll see how that goes—I got sidetracked with my reading when my first round of edits came from my publisher, but will get back on track this week. Anyway, I’ve got three books coming out next year with a small press, so I need to understand promotion and how to market myself/my books, and your books are my great hope. 🙂 I see and understand the value of social media, and I agree with you 100% about the way most authors market their work (holy SPAM field, Batman!), and I absolutely do not want to be one of those. And as to the “why” I write—it’s just who I am. I’ve always used writing as a form of self-expression, from my earliest memory (just loved playing with words), and once characters began appearing in my head I became hooked on storytelling. I write a lot of different things, but my focus now is romance, partly because I like happy endings, and partly because before my mom died she dug into romance as a way to escape her grief from my dad’s death. I like the idea that the love and happy-ever-afters I write will give people like my mom a safe place to go when reality bites a little too hard.

  25. I still don’t know what the hell to do with Twitter, but thanks to you Kristen, and several wise others, I know what NOT to do on Twitter. 😉

    Why do I write? I said back in 2009 that I could write something better than the Twilight Saga. I’m still at it (writing the 3rd novel of my own saga) five years later.

    Anyone can SAY they could write something better than Twilight, but I am one of the proud very few who can hand you a paperback of what I consider to be better.

  26. I write because even when I am not writing, I’m writing.

    I’d rather write than eat, sleep, drink, play…rather than any other worldly pleasures. To see the right words placed in the right way to form the right sentences and the right thoughts on a blank sheet of paper and create worlds and characters is my idea of heaven. And know what? I can create my heaven anyway I want because I can write.

  27. I write because I love to make people laugh.

    • Lanette Kauten on December 1, 2014 at 2:05 pm
    • Reply

    I write so I can bring my evil minions to life. (Does malicious laugh.)

  28. Thank you for yet another great blog post! I write because it’s woven into the fabric of my DNA and if I do not write, things start to feel weird on the inside. VERY weird. It’s been my passion since I was young enough to understand it.

    You bring up so many great points about the cheapness of novelty. I tend to feel inundated as a new author with the endless swarms of FREE THIS! and FREE THAT! out there on facebook and twitter. They are an instant turn-off. I am still working my way through your book and working on my own platform, and I have you to thank for stellar guidance!

  29. I really enjoyed your blog post and found a tremendous amount of information. Congrats, on NANO! I write because I enjoy creating fictional, paranormal worlds where anything is possible. I went to your lecture at Emerald City Conference. I took your suggestions and have seen a HUGE bump in my web site visits.Thanks for sharing! http://dianamccollum.weebly.com/

    1. YAY!!!! So glad to hear from you. Let me know how it keeps going. Praying for a continuing uptick.

    • Anna Erishkigal on December 1, 2014 at 3:42 pm
    • Reply

    I started writing because, in my day job, I see a lot of $#!t#ead$ and I wanted to write about a hero who, not matter what bad things happened, at the end of the day he would always be heroic. Like the old song say, ‘I need a hero’ and since I couldn’t find one in the world around me, I decided to write one for myself. I’m a huge Marvel fan, so I walked around for two weeks asking myself ‘who was the greatest superhero to ever walk the Earth’ and then it hit me. Duh! The Archangel Michael. He dragged the devil into hell.

    I sat down in my chair and, every night for more than a year, instead of watching television I wrote about my hero and the myth of the fallen angels. Perhaps its because my day job had me seeing cases from all sides of the issues, but before I know it I had more than a million words written from multiple POV’s, both bad and good guys, and my husband started hinting maybe it was time to look into getting it published. One trip to a conference to talk to agents and, after listening to them speak disdainfully to us all as though we were something stuck to the bottom of their shoe, and then reading the CONTRACT they expected us to sign if they deigned us with their time, my response was ‘no f-ing way!!!’ [*That’s my opinion as an attorney … that will be $300 please*] So, I published it myself. I didn’t really know what I was doing or about beta-readers or anything. I just did it. It turned out okay. Maybe someday I’ll go back and have a -real- editor look at that first book. But in the meantime I’ve churned out 3 of the 5 books in that series, plus whatever else sparks my interest, got 8 books out so far.

    The latest book was a story about a horse rescue which was actually something one of my readers shared with me. There’s not a huge market for doorstopper-length sweet contemporary romances about rescuing horses from slaughter, but … there you go. It was the social issue which was speaking to me at the moment and maybe it will raise awareness of the problem? Why write unless it’s about something you love? People keep telling me to ‘write shorter books’ or break it apart into serials or write to X, Y or Z book market, but why write if you wouldn’t be proud to have somebody pick it up 100 years from now like Tolkien or Dickens and say, ‘wow, what a great book?’ So I just ignore market trends, do minimal advertising, and reach out to my readers and ask them what THEY want to read about? A traditional publisher would never let me do that.

    1. Well done. Is your series one of the kind where you can kind of jump in and read the latest one without having read the others? The horse rescue thing sounds intriguing 🙂

  30. I’m one of those writers that cringe at the mention of social media. I started writing in the first place because I liked the people in my head better than the people I saw around me (among other reasons, but I was a gloomy kid so that was on top). I had the naïve notion that I could totally just live by myself and not worry about talking to a lot of people if I became a writer.

    Ah, the naivety.

    Anyway, I write now because I love, it makes me happy, and yeah I still love the people in my head (or hate them, because some of them are JERKS. *ahem*). I ended up loving stories so much that I actually wanted to show them to someone, and when I could see they genuinely liked what I shared, it was an inexplicable joy that couldn’t feel with anything else.

    Cheesy, but true. Sometimes the corny stuff makes the best motives.

    Thanks for this post. It’s a valuable insight.

    1. I can relate to: “I liked the people in my head better than the people I saw around me. I had the naïve notion that I could totally just live by myself and not worry about talking to a lot of people if I became a writer.”

      Which reminds me of what Eric the Phantom said: “I hate people as a rule.” Though hate is a very strong word. I prefer dislike. But sometimes…

  31. I want to write because I need to. Like I said in my tagline: My thoughts are colourful fast-moving screensaver’s slides show with badly connected international radio playing in the background…

    I write because I don’t know any better. That’s what I do since I can remember. I write to channel my thoughts, to give them place, to keep sane. I write to exorcise some ghosts, make peace with my past and to vent.

  32. This message us a good one. We don’t often slowdown enough to remember such basic questions.
    Speaking as a teacher, that is similar to how lesson and unit planning is done.
    Keep it up. 😉

  33. Readers are thinkers. Remember that and what product you produce stays in focus.

  34. I write to create worlds in which it’s safe for their characters to make sense of things.

  35. I write because I had a dream, a short one, maybe 5 seconds long. When I woke up I thought, WOW, that would be a great premise for a book.

    80,000 words later I realized a novel is not a short story. I needed to learn how to write, and write well. I needed to learn what goes in to a 65,000+ word story. What kind of structure does a longer story have, what beats must the story contain–and where should they be–to create a satisfying story experience for my readers?

    Five-and-a-half years later, I’m on my 6th rewrite. As I learn the elements of Story, my own story changes, and let me tell you, each rewrite is better than the last.

    I think I’m finally catching on to this whole writer-thing. 😀

      • margaretpinard on December 30, 2014 at 2:25 pm
      • Reply

      yes! I get premises from dreams too! Thank you, Subcoscious! 😉

    • Patricia (blog: www.patriciaplake.blogspot.com) on December 1, 2014 at 5:45 pm
    • Reply

    I write because I love to create adventures to help take readers out of their everyday, dull, repetitious lives.

    I just started my Blog recently and am still learning how to use it. I’m embarrassed to say I don’t know how to do links (“…comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat…”) How do I (link back to your blog?

    1. Haha, yeah, the link thing … totally with you XD

      The thing is, as humans we often look for repetitiveness. When people complain about their lives being repetitive I often find it’s more that they want another routine than that they want every day to be different.
      And why must routine be dull? 🙂 I rather like my routine.

  36. Reblogged this on Reece Evhans and commented:
    What a great post! I write because I have to do something with the stories swirling around in my head. I hope others enjoy reading my stories, but I gotta write them!

  37. What a great post! I write because I have to do something with the stories swirling around in my head. I hope others enjoy reading my stories, but I gotta write them! THX, Kristin!

    • DeAnna on December 1, 2014 at 8:31 pm
    • Reply

    When I’m not working on my dream of becoming an author, my day job is at a Chamber of Commerce in a small midwest community where many are still very intimidated by the Internet. One of the things I try very hard to convey to these small business owners is this: your story sets you apart and connects you to the customer.

    You aren’t “just a car repair shop” you’re a father of three, the volunteer fire chief, and you coach little league… your store funds the little league shirts, takes part in charity 5Ks because your mother had cancer too and it was because of this that your father began teaching you about cars and parts… Being true to you, sharing your story, engages you with the potential customer. It creates a relationship which customers will become loyal too.

    Your blog hits that concept on the head here. I love it. Totally sharing this. Thanks for posting it Kristen!

    1. Preach on and YES! Thanks for the comment ((HUGS))

  38. I write because I like it. I like emptying my brain of the weight of too many words. They don’t always have to seamlessly join themselves in tidy sentences.. in fact sometimes the tangled half thoughts create a more authentic base from which to edit. I used to write a lot more than I have recently, but I’m at a stage of my life where if I don’t get my words out now, they’re likely to choke me like a hairball. Grrrhhh. (sound of a hairball exorcism).

    I’ve recently found this blog and incredibly talented author as well as the amazingly talented followers. I feel fortunate to be in this good company and want to see how far I can go.

  39. Social media steals our time and energy & nothing really social about it except to let people know what products you want to sell, or keep in touch with a group. Rules are always changing too, then you have to waste another day learning them, just to keep the hackers out! Blogs are more personal & educational when you find the right ones. I’ve learn’t a lot from reading quality posts like this one, as I don’t belong to a group of writers, so I don’t get a regular diet of encouragement.

  40. Reblogged this on theowlladyblog.

  41. I write because I found out I was good at it. I worked at my craft and I feel I’ve grown better with each novel I write. I now have two published books by MuseItUp Publishing and hope to soon have a third and a fourth. I will never forget the first time an editor told me I had to change something. I did it, but not before I cried. I’ve come a long way from that insecure author. I like a little social media, especially Facebook, but I only spend a few minutes a week there. I’m trying to work up to almost every day, but I’ve failed so far. However, I do write almost every day.

  42. I’ve always written, in one form or another. I’m studying how to improve my sales. I take writing classes to improve my work. I take marketing classes to understand, well, I’m not sure but it seems important. I read blogs like yours and others, written to help me.

    Let me clarify. I write, therefore I am successful. On the other hand, since I’m not making money by selling that writing, my husband is concerned about the amount of money I’m spending by trying to sell my work. It is reasonable, both his fear and the amount of money I’m spending. But still, it would be nice if there was at least a zero balance.

    Social media seems to be a giant maw of disinterest. Hell, I can’t even get good friends to buy, why the hell would total strangers invest $6.

    So. Whining done. Thanks for sharing. I love your blog posts, both about your family and about writing.

  43. I’ve been wrestling with this question since, over the last few months, the “fire” seems to have gone out my my belly for the novel I’m writing, (despite the lengthy and good conversation I had with Kristen about fixing the plot). I’ve been constantly asking, ‘Why am i doing something that has a 99 percent failure rate?”

    1. Because you must believe you won’t be the 99 percent.

  44. Oooh… I write because I want to share my stories.. and because one day I want books I’ve written to have an effect on people as much as other people’s books have had an effect on me…

  45. Well said. This piece was rather inspiring.

    • Barbara on December 2, 2014 at 8:56 am
    • Reply

    I write because when I enter the world of my imagination I am totally alone with myself, I only need thinking time, a pen and a notebook. When unsatisfactory jobs, needy people, tedious chores and general poverty stalk my real world not only does writing take me (my inner deep self) away from those sorts of stresses it also allows me to fulfil a need to be creative. To me writing stories is progression from playing make-believe as a child, with the added bonus of an actual thing, a book (albeit self printed at home) to show for it.

    Unlike Connie (comment #50) where she speaks of ‘at least a zero balance’ I find that sometimes it is difficult enough having time and space to write or to justify why I need to do this, let alone spend money to get published.

    • Rachel Thompson on December 2, 2014 at 9:16 am
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    I find your comments about Apple interesting. Apple became a cult because cultism buys loyalty and thus bigger sales. All religions and institutions do this. They lead people to act against their own best interests– the game is fleece the flock. Sci-fi writer L.Ron Hubbard used that trick to sell books and became an actual religion. The why is human nature and the how is manipulating the human condition ( which is at the heart of sales, religion and politics.) for profit. Why I write follows after the tradition of Kurt Vonnegut’s study and commentary on the human condition. People are blind to reality and fiction is a good way to show people, collectively, what is actual. I drive at the core of things to understand what makes life tick. I study psychology, sociology, comparative religions, economics, politics and all things human. In fiction, I share my findings side long– in prose I write directly but in small chewable bites. (Raw reality is to hard to swallow) I write to be a mirror of myself and all that humanity is. Why know all this stuff if I can’t share it? I don’t preach, I show what isn’t normally willingly faced at eye level. And, I have fun doing it. I am a smiling siren crying from the shadows for more light.

    1. Your fiction sounds like my kind of genre.
      It is true that we can see reality clearer through a lense – but only if the media is respected. Fiction can also be used as a cruel device to distort our view of reality. That’s the main reason I’m not a big fan of romantic comedy – I feel it blurs out important parts of life and focuses only on a narrow interest, making people expect more AND less of love than actually is. (Of course, there’s a lot of great romance stories out there, undeniably, but I’ve read and watched a lot that fit my above description.)

      I write for much the same reasons as you do, but most people don’t read for that reason. My grandfather said it best: “When i read I read to be entertained. I don’t read to see how horrible other people are feeling and how they got there. I’ve got enough in my own life.
      It’s hard for me to explain to people that reading fiction that shows life in all its complexity can help us make our own lives better, more streamlined.

    2. My point is: do you have the same problem? X)

  46. I love to go on an adventure through stories, and I found out I love it “extra more” when the adventure involves a hot romance where true love wins in the end. I write because I love it when others come on those adventures with me, and are surprised and fulfilled by my fiction. There, that’s my WHY, Kristen. It’s all about the story.

    1. The whole hot romance genre has my interest piqued. You see, I’ve read it but I’m not very into it.
      Certainly there have been stories with romances that caught me. I squirm every time Colin Firth smiles in the role of Mr. Darcy and I fell in love with Marak the Monster in The Hollow Kingdom.
      But as I’ve grown I’ve gotten quite tired of the romance genre. I prefer romance to be a subplot weaved into a greater plot.

      As a romance author, I was just wondering … do you prefer to write about “falling in love” or “loving”?
      What I mean is that there’s a lot of stories out there where a hero and heroine fall in love with each other but few stories where the characters are in a relationship and deal with the issues coming up in a relationship.
      It’s harder to write, but I always find that I prefer it.
      I hope my question was coherent enough. It’s hard for me to put into words.
      (In real life I prefer being in a relationship to crushing on someone as well.)

  47. I write because to me it is a calling. I may only have the one talent, but that’s no reason to bury it 🙂 Down with despair, death-fixation and meaninglessness! Let there be life, colour, hope and joy! Also redemptive endings and bits that make you laugh til your ribs ache and your cat thinks you’re having a fit.

    1. That’s a very respectable reason to write, I think 🙂
      James McBride said he wrote his racially concerned book as a comedy because writing about bleak things demands laughter. And people will accept dark themes better if there is laughter.

      To bad I’m not a comedian x) I need more comedy in my fiction. It’s an art to write! If you could make me laugh till my ribs ached I would never stop reading.

      1. My problem is that I keep writing funny lines even if the genre doesn’t call for it 🙁

        1. That can be a problem. “Funny lines” aren’t all that funny without context. Often I find that the things that make me laugh happen late in a book series when the characters are really established and everything merges in a higher unit.
          Like in How I Met Your Mother, when they started referencing things that had happened earlier. That was hilarious. (Until those final seasons when those were the only funny jokes …)

  48. Wonderful post. I know my blog has been stagnant for a while. The periodic table has been keeping my attention. But I’ve got you to keep my priorities in line!

    Why do I write?
    It’s changed so much. When I was little I read mostly for escapisme but also ended up learning much about people and social structures through books. I spent a lot of time analyzing why groups worked and why I never fit in. Eventually I used fiction to debate these things with myself instead of trying to escape from them and that’s the road it’s been going ever since.
    I love people. I hate people. I’m terrified of them. I want to hug them. I can’t explain it and thus I try through fiction. There’s so many things that can’t just be communicated through an article or debate. It needs to be FELT.
    That’s why I love debating, too, because those topics end up in my stories.
    In fact someone said that my new book, The Time Prisoner, has a very diverse cast, which I didn’t even think about as I wrote it – but certainly cultural and racial issues in fiction is a big concern of mine. We’re all people, so all should be represented.

    Why do I blog?
    It’s an extension of why I write, only there’s a faster response-time – people can write comments on my blog. They seldom do, but oh well, when they do it’s awesome.
    I want to discuss society with PEOPLE. I want to change my own and others’ perspectives. I want to learn, I want to create, I want to EVOLVE.

    And btw, any updates on when we can expect to see your book on the shelves? 😀 I just cannot wait to read it!

  49. Your posts always crack me up! The reason I write? It’s what I do! There’s always a story to tell, always something new. I can’t not write! If I don’t have something to write with I feel completely naked. It’s just part of who I am, and I love it! Fiction and fantasy take us to amazing places to escape our dreadful lives. It’s like going to the movies, only much better!
    Shared this on http://nerdworms.wordpress.com/

  50. Awesome post, thank you. I didn’t want to write to much here in the comments, so I just posted my “Why I write” here: http://alfalfamargaritas.blogspot.com/2014/12/why-i-write-or-why-i-put-myself-through.html

    Thanks for the great post, as usual!

  51. Ktisten: Writing fiction for me is not just about entertaining–although that has to work. Fiction allows me to try to convey something about what it means to be human in a way non-fiction can’t. It gets at truths that need stories to communicate.

  52. This post is going to help me a lot when hearing the question: Why are you doing it? Why are you writing? Wouldn’t “Short stories” do the trick? Isn’t it enough writing you do in the office? Why aren’t you doing something USEFUL?….

  53. Your post is so insightful, and I love that several commenters have pointed out that the ‘why’ changes.

    When I was younger, I wrote as escapism. When I was a teen and into my early twenties, I wrote to capture flitting images and scenes that captivated my mind. Now, I write because I love piecing a story together, and oddly enough, because I love how difficult it is. This is a life where I will never stop learning, never stop growing, and the challenge invigorates me. 🙂 But I really do love structuring the story and trying to fit the characters together even if they promptly ignore me once I’ve started drafting!

  54. I don’t want to be overly long, but I write because I like to entertain and books are a great way to do that. Also maybe learn a thing or two. Reading and writing are solitary endeavors where we can get in touch with our inner self, unplug from reality and live in a land we are happy with. I’ve always thought of myself as a writer but publishing a book seems like a daunting path. I know exactly what you mean when you say you hate being alone. We write in solitary, but we want our work to see in public. I’m not writing for the money (Good thing since there doesn’t seem to be a lot going around), but I do hope people enjoy what I’ve written. I intend to follow your blog. #Amwriting

  55. Reblogged this on sarinaroseauthor and commented:
    Why do I write? I just like the game of writing and really this may surprise some of you, but I like to rewrite. My own stories inspire me as well as others. Why do I write romance? I thought it was going to be the easiest genre until I send my first short story to a contest. Ugh. The truth about why I write romance is that I love Space Coast Authors of Romance, a chapter of Romance Writers of America. I am always excited about the meetings. Our guest speakers ultra delightful plus informative and as enthusiastic about the craft of writing as I am. Now after reading what I heard Kristen Lamb tell our chapter last year sometime, I am one of dedicated fans. Go Kristen.

  1. […] Also, I wanted to share some of my inspiration for this post. It comes from my favorite blogger Kristen Lamb.http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2014/12/01/why-are-we-writers-understanding-the-why-behind-the-b… […]

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