Nathan Bransford, Author


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What Keeps You Writing?

Lots and lots and lots of people dream about writing a novel. Fewer people actually start. And fewer than that actually finish.

Writing a novel takes hundreds of hours, the ability to tune out distractions, forcing oneself to buckle down when the novelty wears off, and the mental perseverance to keep going when doubts and the am-I-crazies creep in.

There are lots of things that can stop someone from writing. What keeps you going?






288 comments:

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Misty said...

Usually I keep going because I find the story so fascinating. Sometimes it's because the characters are so fun. But I guess, all in all, it's the fun that keeps me in the game.

Melissa said...

When I get a request for a partial. Even if it doesn't go any further than that, it lets me know I'm at least headed in the right direction.

Kate Pearce said...

I think writing is addictive, rather like completing your first marathon. I can't stop and I always strive to write 'better'. It's a challenge, an adventure and very deeply satisfying. (20 novels completed -13 published or in production)

Anonymous said...

Writing is my therapy. I lost the stories in my head during a long illness, and when they finally came back to me I took joy in writing them down. Unfortunately, I was too ill to write coherently. As I improve, my stories provide a visible yardstick for my return to health.

Adrianne

Joseph L. Selby said...

Two things: One, I've been writing since I was five. Nothing I've ever done, no other career I've ever pursued, as provided the physical, mental, and spiritual satisfaction I gain by writing.

Two, and this is the important one, I can't stop. If I go two weeks without writing, I have the most disturbing dreams. I get moody and cranky and everything seems dismal. My brain writes whether my fingers type or not. The dreams are just crazy and vivid and I wake up knowing that wouldn't have happened if I had properly purged my imagination into my computer as I am supposed to.

Joseph L. Selby said...

Not sure what the deal is, but I'm having the most difficult time posting comments in Chrome. Is anyone else running into a similar problem?

Alessa Ellefson said...

I absolutely love writing, every aspect of it (yes, the editing part as well). Whenever I'm creating stories, I feel like I'm truly alive (is this a paradox, considering this delves in the imaginary world?).
I do have to add, however, that if I'm not passionate about what I'm writing, I will quit. But just with that story, not writing in general.

Tracy Clark said...

I keep writing because I can't stand the thought that I might have been just around the corner from realizing my dream when I gave up. Plus it's the most fun I've had in years. Now, where the hell is that corner? :-)

Anonymous said...

1) the fact that my agent is waiting on it.

2) when all else fails my awesome critique partners -- who will sweet talk, bribe, bully and lecture as needed.

Laters said...

It's fun. I want to see if I can do it. Lastly, I'm so looking forward seeing/hearing reactions to my book. Feeds the ego I guess.

Catherine Kariaxi said...

I agree with Kate Pearce (comment above). Writing is addictive and/or habit forming. My artist brother-in-law doodles on everything because he wants to. I write or think about writing because I want to.

The other thing is if I have a project that I can SEE working out and FITTING in the market, then I have this feeling like I have to write or edit or DO SOMETHING with the WIP every night so I can finish all the sooner.

Dorothy Dreyer said...

I'm one of those people who feels more "alive" when I'm creating something. And yes, I do want to be published, but even if that never comes to fruition I think I'll still be writing until the day they pry the dusty keyboard from my wrinkle-ridden fingers. Or, you know, until I lose my marbles.

SB said...

I write because I love it. I need to get the words down before they evaporate from my head. I even love rewriting and editing, because it makes my work better.

But finishing a novel -- yes, that definitely is work. I attempt to finish (I have only one finished novel to date) because I am (shamefully) terrified that I will die and someone will read them before they're done and awesome-fied. What kind of legacy would that be? ;)

D. G. Hudson said...

The desire to finish the story keeps me writing. I also have other ideas for stories that are waiting in the back to have their chance on stage.

Writing is a pleasure, it releases my creative side, and feeds the spirit. When someone likes the writing, that's part of the payback.

I want to live and write in Key West --like Hemingway did -- that's a good goal for now.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful question.

With my first novel, it was to finish it, to see it polished, so that I can give it or leave it, a finished story. It delighted me so much. With this one I pushed it forward as if I were afraid if I didn't it would never be completed.

With my current WIP, I realize the time it takes and the long shot of writing better. I feel I need to finish and complete this story. It is so compelling in me. The difference here is that I now move more at a pace that does not take me away from this world and it is more balanced in my life. I just need to keep it moving forward.

The art is like a gift I must try to shape. How it fits in the world, I have no idea. But my job is to make the art.

In the end, I think I would most regret not expressing my love to the people I love and not using the gifts I have been given fully. Therefore, I hope to to fulfill at least these maps in my heart.

Suzannah said...

Just the fact that there's a chance of being published if I finish what I've started. That remote possibility keeps me going, because I know if I give up, I may have passed on the one thing I'd love to do with my life. All the pain and heartache of writing the thing is worth that flicker of hope.

John M. Baron said...

It's relaxing in an odd way. Even when the going gets tough (which usually is just a matter of "where can I find the time?"). It's like playing difficult and complex piano pieces -- it takes me away from all the day-to-day concerns.

Melissa said...

I simply can't imagine not writing. Even when it seems like I'm not making progress, like the books I write will never get the attention of agents or editors, much less the general public. I see the world in stories to be told. If I wasn't writing, I'm not sure I'd know how to look at the world.

Tracy Hahn-Burkett said...

My characters keep me writing. They have so much to tell, and how will anyone ever know what makes them so intriguing if I don't write it all down?

I write for those moments when I lose myself so thoroughly in the story that I don't feel the passage of time and then, when I finally look up from the keyboard, I discover that my characters did something unexpected or revealed something to me that I didn't know before. It's the best high ever.

And yeah, I get grumpy when I don't write for a while, too. Just ask my husband or my kids.

T. Anne said...

I think I just enjoy the art of it. It's such a rush of adrenaline to be able to create something that I can get lost in.

Thermocline said...

I keep writing because I know I can get better. Sure I've got a dream about being published, but I keep going because I see improvement and I'm enjoying it.

Christi Goddard said...

For me, the question would be more along the lines of, "What would ever stop you from writing?"

I've always been a writer. I won awards in elementary school. I got to meet authors. I won writing contests in high shcool.

But I thought that being an author was not a dream I could accomplish so I put it on the backburner when I got married and had kids. Yet, I still wrote all the time, just little things.

I've been writing novel length works for nearly six years (I've written over a dozen books), and just recently had the idea of trying to publish so started the agent hunt. I might not succeed, but that would never stop me from writing. I can't.

Vivienne Westlake said...

I definitely have my distractions and my doubt-filled moments, but what keeps me writing is the voices in my head that I can't totally tune out. The characters and snippets of story that inevitably come to me. And, when I have a hero or heroine that I really truly love, then that character pushes and prods me to work on their book.

Also, seeing my friends enjoy success reminds me that it's not all challenges and that with determination, I can have that, too.

Gary A. Donahue said...

For me it's simple. I can't help it. There are stories in me that need to come out.

John Ross Harvey said...

I keep writing because one day, I'll prove everyone wrong and make my living doing it. Current career as draftsman barely pays bills, and mortgage, and taxes. Writing pays me nothing as yet, even with a .com website to promote myself.
I will write in every genre I can come up with a story for. My crime novel will probably be my best yet.

April Brown said...

Right now, knowing that I have less than a month to finish as much of the first draft as possible. Plus, knowing I have friends waiting on this one, ever so patiently, weekly reminders to finish.

Of course, this new project keeps me active while waiting for readers to review my fiction story.

TERI REES WANG said...

..I just need to start writing!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post, Nathan. I'm anxious to read the answers; I'm being eating alive by the am I crazies lately.

Simon C. Larter said...

I write because if I didn't, I'd have to run till I dropped of exhaustion, scream at the sky, dive into the frozen ocean, all to get away from the words that won't stop seething in my chest. That's pretty much it.

Munk said...

...I am driven by the spirits of the people killed by my dead husband's rifles.

Matthew Delman said...

Ditto what Simon C. Larter said.

That is all.

Anonymous said...

I keep writing because this book I'm penning (clicking?) is my best yet. Did I mention that my last book was my best to date? Well, yeah, this one is gonna blow your socks off.

Oh yeah, and did I mention that the plot outline I have for the next one is even better . . . I mean truly awesome, because it's based on a real story, like something that actually happened to moi!

But wait, there's more . . . my concept for the book after that one is definitely a Great American Novel killer (trust me, book 6 is the next "To Kill a Mockingbird").

That's why I keep writing . . .

Keli Gwyn said...

What keeps me writing is the desire to see my name on the cover of a book, eagerness to share my stories with readers, and the support of my wonderful husband, daughter, critique partner, and too many others to mention.

Jack Roberts, Annabelle's scribe said...

Why do I keep going?

Because I want to know what happened to these characters. I want to see how they handle the conflicts I know are coming.

Because there are plenty of people who want me to succeed. They euge me to continue even when I fall. Most have read it and they want to know what’s going to happen, too.

Because Annabelle keeps demanding that I finish. She’s my muse. She walked out of my head onto the page and won’t let it go. She’s very demanding and selfish when it comes to my writing time. I try to write other things but she just won’t let go.

Nisa said...

I started writing because I had a story to tell. I keep writing because I love it!

Nicole Lorenz said...

I'm happiest when I'm working out a story. Plus, I only write things I'd like to read, so I have to finish a novel because I want to read the ending.

MEWriter said...

Was going to try to figure out an answer. But can't stop to say. Just about to start writing. 5.52 am.

Sharon Kirk Clifton said...

the passion,
the story,
the dream,
the plots within me
scream,
"Write on!"

Anonymous said...

Ignorance? Kidding. Like a few folks have said above, characters. I love putting them through hell, visualizing their reactions and hearing their words.

Satan said...

I write because if I didn't, my story would nag me, as it did for years until I finally sat down and started writing. I have no choice. (And I love writing, of course.)

K.Hinny said...

I just started writing over two years ago. And I know many people say they write because they have to. Now where that may be true fro me. My "want to" is much greater than the "have to."

There are days when my characters speak to me loud and clear, they point me in the directions of which way to go and there are other times when they are feeling shy, but I keep going because I can't wait for the next surprise in the plot.

A lot of times the plot is planned out, even for short stories, but there are those gem moments where the *bing!* light goes off and it all comes together.

I know that even if I get rejected I'll keep writing simply because I've never found anything that makes me as happy as I do when I'm spinning a story.

Good question
Have a great day!
Hinny

Anissa said...

I think it's the story. The need to tell it, to give it life. But then what keeps me editing and revising it? I guess I still don't feel like I've gotten it right yet.

Tony Southcotte said...

Anytime I write, it seems like an introspective view on myself. Ultimately, it is how I reflect on the issues in my life, and find the will to change. Plus, it beats playing World of Warcraft.

Though I am a little bit newer to the game, I recently proved to myself that I could write a book of more than 90,000 words in a timely manner. Editing it is still going on, and the rewrites are happening, but knowing that I have gotten this far has changed my life.

Most of my projects before fizzled out around the 25 percent mark. This feels like what I was meant to do, and what I could do for the rest of my life.

buildingalife said...

I've run out of things to watch on Hulu?

I think it's mostly that I really like my characters. I don't really get much of a chance to spend time with friends and I live cross country from my family so writing my characters is a little like have a Saturday night out...with very bad mishaps, and much hotter guys.

Anabel said...

I'd have to say the story in my head keeps growing and growing until I just have to let it out. Plus my characters have a big role, once created they deserve to have their story told. Lately guilt has been the main ingredient, my fellow writer and friend Brooke feels it too, we give eachother guilt trips to keep us going.

Stephanie said...

Other than the sheer enjoyment of writing?
As I write the series of books that I am working on now, I feel compelled to finish my characters story. I have a need to finish it.
On top of that? I have friends and early readers eager to know how it ends. And I plan on giving that to them.
Their encouragement keeps me going!

Julie said...

I write because I love it and there are only two main reasons why I even consider publishing

1. To justify all the time I spend writing (mostly for others sake not mine)

2. Because it feels so good to have someone say they like your stuff.

Jenny said...

1. If I *don't* write I feel like the crazies really do set in. There's no oulet for what's going on in my brain. Writing is satisfying in and of itself because it requires the artistic bit of making stuff up and the editing satisfies the logical lefty side of the brain.

2. Throwing in an external factor, like a writer's group that demands I turn in fifty pages every other month (hey guys!) also assures that I will make progress and that my stuff won't languish in some computer file that only I see.

Kristin Laughtin said...

Besides the love of the craft? Sheer determination, if anything. Even if I'm frustrated with a story and want to bury it in a box at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, it'll bug me if I don't finish it. (Ha, my current WIP is kind of like this. Thank God for revisions because I plan to make a lot of them--whenever I actually finish the first draft.) As a few others have said, it also helps me not to feel manic. I need some sort of outlet for all the crazy things I dream up. I start to feel twitchy if I don't write for a long enough period, like the stories are scratching at the inside of my skull to get out.

Annalee said...

I used to think that I "couldn't not write" because I've got so many stories rattling around in my brain that want out and all that, but then I realized that stories rattle around in my head because I write, not the other way 'round.

When I'm busy with my costume designs, the logistics and math of patterns and fabric sources rattle around in my head, and I don't think about writing at all. The same goes for all the other things I love to do.

So, I write because it's fun.

Which isn't to say I don't take it seriously--because I do--but if I didn't enjoy it, I wouldn't do it.

jmartinlibrary said...

I enjoy writing, so I keep doing it.

Also, it's rewarding to chart growth. I can look back and see how far I've come and I can cheer on other writers who are on the road ahead.

Dara said...

Love for the story. And sometimes I get frustrated with it so I'll take a break. Inevitably though, I always come back... :)

Kristi said...

It's fun. I worked on revisions while watching the Olympics last night, so it helps that I'm adept at multi-tasking. Now I'm motivated by the fact that my other wip is calling to me -- loudly -- but I can't get to it until I finish the current one. I will say the idea of querying seems more terrifying than fun but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Anonymous said...

I have a mortgage and a huge, shameless ego :)

Laurie Lamb said...

I write because I read. I read because I write.

Matt Ryan said...

Fear of mediocrity . . .

Jeanie W said...

Chocolate.

Mira said...

There are things that I need to express. I want to express those things partly to give meaning to my path, a legacy, maybe, and partly to make a contribution, to help people, to help improve things.

Scott said...

I guess I keep writing because of the adventure of writing. I love the unexpected twists and turns a story takes as I get further into the writing process. For me, writing is as fun as reading, so why stop doing something I love?

Jen said...

When I say I'm working on a novel, I inevitably get the response, "Oh, I'd love to write a book someday." Someday? Why not now?

I think it comes down to one's willingness to commit to the project. For some (like me), it is easier because we genuinely have a love of the written language. We're not after fame or fortune but wouldn't necessarily be disappointed if it came our way. In my particular case, I've been writing since I was 14 or 15. It's become a part of who I am, and while I've had breaks from it here and there over the last 15 years, I've never quit.

I get lost in the worlds I create, the characters I come to know, and the relationships don't leave my head. While life may disappoint us--and maybe even the publishing industry in the form of rejection letters--writing is a truly constant piece of my life even if everything else changes.

Simpatico said...

With me, it changes.

I suppose the main reason would be the story. I think, once it’s done, it’ll just be an enjoyable experience for many people. The thought of that, of possibly creating something that others might find cool or fascinating or funny or enjoyable or – gasp! - thought-provoking, makes my writing motor hum and fills me with a sense of purpose.

But also, sometimes, I become gripped by a desire to share something of myself with the world. I feel our stories (or mine, at least) contain little parts of ourselves – our hopes and fears, our desires and dreams, our experiences, successes and failures, and our loves and heartbreaks.

Sometimes I feel a need to express that, to indirectly show that part of myself to the world. I guess my writing is kind of a purging - and a legacy. So that when my time comes, in some small way, not all will be lost or forgotten.

Tara said...

Because I love my characters. I'm in love with my characters, can't get enough of them.

I kinda like being a puppet master, too. MC has to endure whatever mood I am in: Ha!Ha! I think today you will be kidnapped by an evil man and told your boyfriend is dead...

Annie McElfresh said...

For me it's because I like the story that's playing out in my head, and it doesn't go away until I get it out.

The other thing that keeps me going is my Crit partners. They are the absolute best at sharing their honesty with me and encouraging me to enter contests like Miss Snark's for public scrutiny. (Thanks BTW to the awesome Nathan Bransford for the crit of my latest WIP. I'm working on dialing back that voice :D)

Margaret Yang said...

Coffee.

GalaktioNova said...

I'll probably sound cynical, but I write simply because that's the only way for me to earn money at the moment. I'm stuck in a God-forsaken French village without a car or a job; luckily, I have an Internet connection, so I do the only thing I can do in this situation: I write.

It may sound awful, but if tomorrow I got a job, I'd probably stop writing. And that would be unbearable. So life, in its infinite wisdom, knows better. :-)

D.J. Morel said...

I stopped writing about five years ago, after writing for over a decade and making a meager living from nonfiction for most of it. I came within an inch of throwing all my scribbles out. It was a big box filled with about four feet of paper. Thankfully I didn't, literally dragged the box back in from the recycling bin and put it in the basement. About a year ago, I brought the box back up from the basement. About three months ago, I started writing again.

Why? I have no idea, except that I'm happier when I write--even if it means I sleep a whole lot less.

Nick said...

I don't know.

I want to say because it's one of the only fields in which I have talent, and the only field in which I have talent that would not require endangering life and limb. But that's not really true, as I still do a great deal of those things anyway, and what keeps me from seeking them professionally is that there simply isn't an appropriate profession any more. I want to say it's because I love worldbuilding. Oh how i love creating characters and places and things and just piece by tiny little pieces building those old brick-and-mortar corner houses and things. But that's not really it either. I want to say it's because it offers an escape from the unpleasantries of my home life, but the fact of the matter is, when such unpleasantries have me remotely upset, I cannot be imaginative for the life of me.

Yesterday I made a long rambly blog post comparing writing to my somewhat arduous walk home. Every day I choose to walk home, in spite of the fact that it would be easier and smarter to stay at school. And in fact there is no particular reason why I walk home instead of stay behind for an extra two hours while waiting for the other students to finish their classes and for the busses to arrive. I just do it. And I think writing is the same way. There is no rhyme or reason to it, I just do it and pray for the best.

lystrawrote said...

You can stop writing?

Grimmster24 said...

Nathan,

1) I usually feel that I wouldn't want to be doing anything else, even on the really crappy days when the words just don't come out right.

2) Supportive friends (a few, like Natalie Whipple, Kiersten White, and Steph Perkins whom are writers themselves).

3) Forcing myself OFF Facebook and MySpace for days at a time. hahaha. Unless of course I have something writing-related to post.

Kirk K said...

Simply put, if I didn't write, I would die.

OK, so maybe that is a bit dramatic and oversimplistic. I have found that when I was younger and suppressing my urge to write, I always felt there was something missing. Now that I am writing more (even though time constraints make it difficult), I am seeing the joy I get from moving words from my mind to the keyboard. I have a long way to creating publishable material (fiction, anyway) but the reason I keep going is that I see joy in others who read what I write. So, I push on.

JenE said...

The drive to be better keeps me going. I just finished my first novel, and now I want it to be better. I want my second novel to be better than this one. I want to prove to myself, and those around me, that I can do this and be good at it.

Sara McClung ♥ said...

For the novel I'm working on now... once I started I couldn't stop. It was as simple as that. I think it's called... love.

And in my discouraged moments? Having amazing CPs can pull the most disheartened writer back from the depths :)

spiziks said...

The long string of zeroes in my bank account.

elucian said...

After many years of developing and outlining my story, and the gradual and painful acceptance of the fact that it IS actually possible to lose it all in endless research and not complete it, I gradually developed a sense of "artistic responsibility" -- the story was there, inside me, pretty much complete, so I owed it its realisation.

Eric said...

Because if my words per minute count drops below 55 then the bomb on the bus will explode.

Other Lisa said...

Booze and desperation.

Tiffany Neal said...

I write because I have to. The voices in my head won't stop until I write it.

It's a plus that I actually enjoy it and somehow continue even after re-writing my query letter 14 times from scratch.

Lisa Marie Miles said...

I like to find out what happens to my characters.

Nato said...

I keep writing because I've just got to see how the story turns out.

Stephen Prosapio said...

I'll paraphrase a Stephen King answer:

WHAT MAKES YOU THINK WE HAVE A CHOICE?

Matt Heppe said...

I keep going because the idea of seeing my novel on a bookstore shelf is one of the most exciting ideas I could possibly imagine.

SFixe said...

I'm determined. If I stop now, I'll know for sure I've failed, but if I keep going then maybe the dream will be my reality.
And wouldn't it be fantastic to say "I told you so" to all the nay sayers we encounter. Politely of course.

Justin said...

Because, even when offering the book for free, the thought of people reading whatever creation is both awe-inspiring and humbling.

The warm fuzzies from good reviews don't hurt either =D

abc said...

Hmmm. I don't know. Most people have some way of expressing themselves, right? Some people crochet. Some people play fantasy baseball. Lots of people do a lot of things. I don't have a lot of hobbies. I like to watch movies, television, and read book. Now and then I take some arty photos. But I've always liked writing--even if it is only for 5 people and not the 50,000 I wish for.

Speaking of writing as therapy (in a roundabout way), has anyone read this excellent article about the most excellent writer Roger Ebert?

http://www.esquire.com/print-this/roger-ebert-0310

It is seriously good. And tear inducing.

Anonymous said...

What Jeanie W.said...and coffee....

Heather Kelly said...

For me, this question is what keeps me revising. Because I always hunger to get to the end of the story, to finish the rough draft. But the taking it apart, and putting it back together of revising is a different story. I think my deep desire to get the story as close what I imagine it to be is one reason why I keep at it. The other reason is the writing friends who give me perspective and encouragement and feedback. Those guys keep me going.

jcaddell said...

Chocolate chips.

I keep them in my desk drawer for extra creative energy.

Stephanie said...

Because if I commited myself to anything else, I think I'd go insane. Like with acting, when I write, I can be anyone and do anything, and I don't get bored by doing the same thing everyday.

Stina K. said...

It's my drug. It takes me to a place where I can escape and forget about the stresses of life.

Also, I firmly believe that if you have been given a gift, you darn well better use it. Don't let it sit on shelf and collect dust.

Marilyn Peake said...

The sheer joy of writing and creating an entirely new fictional world every time I write a story, plus trying to make a difference through my writing, are the main things that keep me going through the hard work and long hours required to complete each project. It also helps tremendously when I have people who believe in the project I’m working on – that gives me great hope and motivation when I feel worn-out. I’ve had three novels and numerous short stories published by small press, and am currently editing my most ambitious novel so far. Despite bouts of exhaustion, migraine headaches and back strain, I find the overall process of working on my latest novel exhilarating.

Masha said...

Nathan, Thanks for a great blog! It's a pleasure to read each time.

I am not nearly as talented as your other readers. For me, writing is work. Rather hard work, for that matter.

Since I do get paid to write, this is my practical, motivation trick (to keep the cash rolling in!):

Aim for 1-2 hours of crappy writing each day. This way there is no pressure -you're not trying to create War and Peace. Just sit down and spit out whatever comes to mind for a fixed period of time.

Typically, editing is much easier than writing from scratch. So, once a week I re-read all of my crappy writing and form them into good (sometimes great) articles.

Cheers!

Jordana Ryan said...

My character's make me finish the story. I don't outline so I never know how it will end. I am just as anxious as my reader to know what will happen, and getting that aha! moment is such a thrill for me as a writer, I love when my characters surprise me :) It's a thrill to write something that just shapes itself and in the end fulfills my readers :)

lotusgirl said...

It gives me a rush. I love the characters, and I had my daughter over my shoulder asking for more. The persistence to publish is because I want others to share in the fun.

Sierra Godfrey said...

No clue.

Some inner flame, for which I am grateful. Or innate competitiveness. The challenge, the satisfaction of a story coming together. The release I feel in pouring out my thoughts, hidden within a story.

Carradee said...

Well, I actually do get a little crazy without it, so that's a good reason to keep at it. When I don't write, I get crabby and (more) depressed.

But I'm motivated by the people interested in reading it.

Marilyn Brant said...

Wonderful question, Nathan!

To me, novel writing is a fabulous, complex puzzle in a game I get to play against myself. It's *always* challenging--every time--and I learn new things by doing it. Writing-craft skills. Life lessons. A better understanding of people.

In the end, I keep writing the book because I'm curious. I need to learn what this new story and these new characters have to teach me.

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

The dream.

And the friend that threatened if I don't publish a book (or try to get one published) before I die, I'll have to deal with that person in heaven.

GhostFolk.com said...

Mutability. When day is done I don't want it to be unseized.

Once you decide what you're going to do with your life, you better do it. Or you're just watching TV.

lisanneharris said...

I have a dream, a goal. I'll reach the New York Times Bestsellers List, or die trying. The end. :)

Michael A. Emeritz said...

I just love the act of writing. I love holding pens and scribbling words in leather-bound journals, hard-back notebooks, and on occasion I will indulge myself to a heap of scratch pads.

It doesn't have to make sense. Often I will write random things that come to mind; bunny, waffle, cameroon, jiggity diggity doo... That last one was fun for me.

But on a serious note, I don't think anything could take the place of writing for me. When I'm sad--I write about it. When I'm happy--I write about it. When I'm...you get the gist.

Maybe someday something I've found interesting enough to be written will be interesting enough to be published. Until then, figgle, wallop, Kalamazoo...

Sheri Larsen said...

Whoa, the am-I-crazies? Shh... Seriously, for me, being the feisty mother of four should say it all. I never give up anything I start...just because. And with writing, each day is a new start, a new mountain to climb, and a new way to push beyond my personal boundaries. I love creating and taking my audience along with me. It's exciting and extremely fulfilling. The more I write the more I discover about myself and the amazing people around me.

Angela_Cheerios and Pearls Necklace Stories said...

I write because a storytelling is a big part of who I am. I write to get to know my characters better; to let them surprise me with who they really are and who they want to be. It seems like these characters take a life of their own and I am the one left with a new story to read. The story that magically found its way from my imagination to my computer screen.

Hollie Sessoms said...

I keep thinking, "I really want to read this story." The only way that I'm going to be able to read it is to write it.

Southpaw said...

What keeps me writing?
I have to know how it ends!

DG said...

I think it takes more than just the dream of fame and riches to finish a novel. Anyone can start a novel. But just a few hours dancing around on the internet is likely to educate you in how difficult it is to be financially successful. So then, there must be something else that helps one plug along day after day. For me, it's my lunch hour, where I pop on my headphones and go to work on my laptop. I do it every day during the week without fail, so there's the habit thing. The rest of it is that I simply can't wait to find out what happens to my characters.

Lisa Kilian said...

I have a blind, trusting faith in the universe that it compels me to do something then there's a damn good reason behind it.

Also, I notice that many people dream of the day their novel goes to the best-seller list and they can quit their jobs and write full-time. Well I've already worked full-time as a writer...and turns out, (be careful what you wish for) it wasn't at all what I wanted. So now, writing a novel isn't something that will get me out of the rat race (I'd like to keep my day job, thank you very much), but instead it's something to help me both escape from and better understand life and its people.

Trisha Wooldridge said...

1) Usually, the characters or story won't leave me alone.

2) When I don't get to write, I feel disorganized and detached.

3) I have some of the most awesome and supportive cheerleaders.

4) The high from an all-nighter manic writing spree is flipping out of this world!

Thomas Burchfield said...

Again, my Elizabeth. That, and the power and joy of creation. The thrill when I've written something thrilling; the laugh when I've written something funny; the swell when I've written something moving.
After so many years, it's a compulsion.

Heidi Thornock said...

It's a good outlet for this stay-at-home mom.It helps keep me sane.

And sometimes the characters are screaming in my head to get their story out. With that going on 24-7, the only way to silence them is to write.

mkcbunny said...

Wanting to see it finished.

SammyStewart said...

Habit. Can't stop.

Anonymous said...

Because I can't dance.

Arabella said...

And yet, thousands upon thousands of people do complete novels, hence the level of competition in catching an agent's attention and getting that contract.

But I write because I enjoy it, and that's all.

Kate said...

I'm having fun discovering these characters and how the story unfolds as I go along. I'm still working toward a first draft. About half way there.

Also, I want to know if I can write. Or not. I started my first novel attempt about two years ago. Scrapped it. Started another one. Scrapped it. And another...scrapped. What can I say, I'm a shameless murderer of darlings.

I won't know if this thing's actually worth reading until...I finish it. Rewrite it. Polish it. Etc.

We'll see when we get there. But I think this one's actually worth the trouble.

emmiefisher said...

What keeps me writing is the idea of creating something that will bring joy to someone else. I'm always brimming with ideas and stories, but unless I get them down on paper, no one will ever see or hear them. And there is nothing better than opening a new book that you just can't put down.

And secondly, I've also found writing to be therapeutic when I'm going through a rough patch. It really helps me keep moving forward with my life and letting go of my past. So even if my work never sees the light of day, I still end up feeling better and more joyous than I had before.

Connie said...

I write because when I write I feel like I'm doing what I was born to do.

Amie Boudreau said...

What keeps me going is that to me writing is like air. I can not imagine life without it. It's all I ever wanted to do. I have one novel published, and am really wanting to republish with a different publisher now that my contract is totally up, but I want an agent this go round, and I haven't quit, but I hit a huge space of time with lack of motivation due to excuses and lack of confidence.

I am forcing myself back into the discipline of it, and trying to refocus because I want the success of it so bad I can taste it!

Ink said...

I write because otherwise the stories will keep building up in my brain. The dam will hold back those waters only so long. Gotta watch those watermarks...

Rick Daley said...

I genuinely like the stories for my works in progress and want to finsh them all.

Dawn Herring said...

For my novel, I kept writing because I wanted to finish the story. The characters had to work out the issues and come to a satisfying conclusion. If I didn't finish it, I would feel like I left the people in limbo!

For my blog, I keep writing since I have readers who read my posts. :) I also enjoying sharing my pov and insight into daily life.

For my journal, I write because if I don't, every else feels undone, as if my day isn't over until I record it.

Terry Towery said...

Well, let's see. I quit drinking and smoking a few years back. And I'm happily married, so I don't chase women any more.

In other words, I am thoroughly addicted to being creative. Writing fills a void inside of me that those other things used to do.

I'm pretty sure it's healthier. But I could be wrong.

Milo James Fowler said...

I usually like the stories I write, so that helps. And my Constant Reader (wife) always wants to know how they end. Besides, it seems like my writing gets better the more I plug away at it, so I've got nothing to lose.

Nancy Coffelt said...

Fear of employment.

K. E. Carson said...

Writing is the biggest passions in my life. There's nothing that even comes close to my love for the written word.

And I do0n't get grumpy when I don't write. I go into this state where I feel like I can't do anything, a mindless, numb state which makes me want to beat my head against the table to understand what's wrong with me.

I think it's some sort of nasty disease.

Linnea said...

I'm incredibly stubborn. Once I start something I have to finish it - even if it takes years.

Karen Mahoney said...

A lot of things keep me going. Coffee, chocolate, blueberry muffins, coffee... ;)

But one of the BIGGEST is because even now, even at my age, I want to prove my dad wrong.

Elena said...

Revenge...and what's the best revenge? Success...

Mark Anderson Smith said...

Love and commitment, in equal measure! I have wanted to write a novel since I was a child and have a story that I am passionate about. But it is only since I set myself a clear goal and commited to writing a simple 100 words a day that I've actually made some progress. I reach 50,000 words on my first draft today! Still a long way to go but it feels good to make progress :)

Ashley A. said...

I have a job-job, so I don't write for money. When I am writing, I feel like I'm doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing.

Also, I must admit that I would very much like to be a star, and writing seems to be my best shot. Oh, and my rejection letters from prospective agents keep getting better and better.

Genella deGrey said...

I enjoy entertaining the masses. (Not in a dirty way, mind you - although my stories can run pretty hot.)
;)
G.

Joi said...

At first, it was the pressure of participating in NaNoWriMo every year. But now, I write just because I *have* to--the story won't leave me alone otherwise!

jonas wunderman said...

Fear that if I dont do something "different" in my life I will end up like the rest of my family.

Lisa said...

Sheer terror that if not now? Never.

Shari Weaver said...

The story! If I don't finish it, I'll never know how it ends.

Cheree said...

I just love writing. And besides, getting the words on paper is better than keeping the movie that only I can see playing in my head.

Dawn Maria said...

What keeps me writing? Fear of what life would be like if I wasn't writing. I've dreamed of writing a book since I was a kid. Now I'm revising that book. I keep going so I know I tried everything to make my dream come true.

The Red Angel said...

For me, language in the form of writing has always amazed me with its power. You can do anything you want with words, and the fact that when you are writing, you're the one in control makes me keep writing. The fact that I can express myself in the best way possible and know I can make a difference with my writing.

The Red Angel said...

By the way, in pertaining to stories and novels, I keep writing them because of the message I want to convey...I have very strong feelings about certain values or things that I believe in and it's a joy to convey the message through characters that I hope will touch my readers.

Terry said...

I don't know, maybe obsessive- compulsive personality disorder. Some mental disorder, for sure.

Christine said...

Writing is the most exasperating exhilarating experience I've encountered. Other than raising a child, I consider writing to be the greatest intellectual challenge I can face because it never bores me. Oh, it aggravates me and it brings me tons of angst, but it always brings me unique surprises.

I can't stop even though I have no idea if I will ever be published. If I were writing for the money, I'd wouldn't have started.

And the only people who truly understand the way my mind works are the writers I know...

Jane Opal said...

What keeps me writing is my belief that I am creating something beautiful that others will enjoy reading. If I don't believe that my words will have an impact on others, I lose my ambition.

- Jane Opal

Moira Young said...

The knowledge that I have it in me, even if I'm not quite there just yet.

Genevieve said...

I can't figure out what could stop me. This is my passion. I might spontaneously combust if I stopped now. Seriously. I have 4 books all coming out at the same time, and I'm equally devoted to each of them.

Validation sure helps, like on sites like Authonomy, Scribophile, and of course when you get requests from agents (and follow up phone calls! Yay!!), but I'd write anyway. I have to.

martha Ramirez said...

My passion. I think I am addicted to writing! lol.

Lin said...

I keep writing because I love the task of writing itself. I'll even do the boring stuff AKA research to be able to write. What it proves about me, what it says about me, what people will think of me because I wrote X - all of those fade into the background, and it's just me and my truest love, the English language and all its component parts.

Lydia Sharp said...

Choose any of the above answers: ditto.

MaryC said...

Simple - because I can't not do it.

Jen said...

Stories are fascinating, there is one wherever you go, each person you pass by has one, and I feel that I am doing a dis-service to not share all the stories I have bottled up inside. I believe that some of them are too amazing to pass up (I know sound self-indulgent) my life story isn't all that amazing, but dreamland certainly makes up for it!

anne vinsel said...

On good days, how much fun it is ;-) on bad days, the knowledge that if i don't stay on it, i'll get sick and that will be expensive and non-fun. i like a good combination of creativity and discipline, seems to be working so far.

Abby Stevens said...

Not disappointing my family and my husband (who agreed to me quitting my job to write this novel) keeps me going. They believe in me with all their hearts and I am motivated to live up to their belief in me. Sometimes it's a lot of pressure, but it's good pressure in the end, because I do want to finish this novel (and I'm so very close!).

-30- said...

What keeps me going is the story. It sounds silly, but I have only a rough outline of the book. I have to keep writing scene after scene to figure out how its going to end.

I know my protagonist is going to prevail, but what I don't know is exactly how, and what obstacles are in his way. This is the fun part of writing: Sitting back to watch your characters work.

#longwindedfail

Anonymous said...

I don't know - was the question about what motivates you, or what sustains you? Two different things...seems like most responses here are about motivation, rather than sustenance...?? Maybe I'm missing something...

Anonymous said...

It's like if you're lost in the desert, getting back to your loved ones is what motivates you...but the water that condenses on the roof of a little tent you made out of a piece of your backpack, is what sustains you...

Transitoria said...

Just when I think I'm not going to write another word, my characters wake me up from sleep, demanding to be heard. It's like thinking of the snappy comeback three hours too late. There are many nights when I'm awakened five or six times. I look like a wreck the next morning, but the story progresses.

Vicky said...

The main reason I keep going is because I can't stop. I love my characters and I want to tell their stories, and I keep writing because that's what I do.

Marge said...

I keep writing because if I stop, then my dream/vision dies. And the novels / short stories I write come from the 'me' that no one else gets to see. If I didn't write, I'd no doubt go 'postal'.

Angela said...

Knowing that I have a great story to tell and because the story itself will not let me rest until it's finished. And because of that fact alone, I will not let myself drop the ball...no matter how many years it takes me!!!!

Trish said...

When I was a kid, I couldn’t write very well, but I could read. I loved books and admired the people that wrote all those wonderful stories. I wondered how they did it and how they came up with their ideas. I decide I would like to make people laugh - and cry too. I wanted to be admired for my stories just like them.

When I posted my first attempt of a children’s story on a writing forum, I got a few laughs. This spurred me on. I was hooked. I received criticism of course as my grammar was terrible, but I enjoyed making people laugh. I decided to learn more and write more. Now I’m addicted and I can’t stop.

I love communicating with other writers, maybe that’s part of the thrill as well as the pleasure I get when I’ve developed a character and completed a manuscript.

Nicole said...

The dream of becoming an author and my absolute love of writing keep me going but when I am tired and don't feel like doing anything the goals and deadlines I have set for myself keep me moving. I feel too guilty when I miss a personal deadline so I don't.

Jil said...

I write because I love disappearing into those other worlds. They say we only have one life -well a writer has as many as he wishes to create. Even if I never sell them my six, going on seven, completed novels will be worlds for me to return to and read when I'm old and grey and my fingers can no longer type.

Victoria said...

Writing is my 'down-time' when I can ignore all the craziness around me and forget the five billion reports that I have to write.

It helps me relax and it's oh so fun

Jil said...

By the way, did anyone notice that Dick Francis died the other day? I loved his mysteries, easy to read and fun for passing away time in airplanes.

I knew him in England when he was a steeplechase jockey and rode for the Queen. He was always a real gentleman.

jessi said...

Because "Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia." ~E.L. Doctorow
That's the best I've got at this point. :)

Kristen said...

I write because I have to. It is as essential as breathing to me. I love being able to disappear inside myself in the worlds that I create. Once I start a story, even if I find myself getting frustrated I have to finish. I need to know how it ends and I have to end it for my characters...

Erasmus said...

Maybe this is a tip, maybe it's just me, but the more writing projects I have (a picture book, a screenplay, a column, a middle grade novel), the more and the better I write. Being able to switch from one project to another keeps me going and sharp. Good writings to you all!

Meghan said...

Entering the world of make believe keeps me writing always. After a day that makes me want to run my head through a wall, writing is the perfect release.

mapelba said...

I've finished three novels. Not one has been published, but I keep writing. I imagine my son when he is 25. Do I want him to tell his friends, "My mom dreamed of being a writer but gave up." Or do I want him to say, "My mom is crazy. She just keep writing and writing..." I pick the second.

Jessie Oliveros said...

writing pretty words and reading them out loud, finding out what happens next...

Whirlochre said...

the three guys keeping me locjked up here the mad one the kind of ok one and the one inbetween say if I don't keep on with the happy endings stuff, then I'm outta here big time

so I'm outta here

Marleen said...

The story has to be told.

Anonymous said...

Writing is a more active way of escaping into a good book. So I guess I write to escape.

Judith Mercado said...

I repeat what others have said, "I can't not do it." In addition, writing a story or novel is like picking up a good book that I can't put down because I want to know what happens to the characters. Once my characters show up, while I have a sense of what is at stake for them, I rarely know ahead of time how they will resolve their conflict. So I'm a sort of reader as well as being the writer.

GloriaAttarRNBSN said...

Red Bull and Marlboros? Kidding.

Writing is how I breathe, so I guess it's the desire to take that next breath.

Orange Slushie said...

small affirmations...competition wins and the like

the work of writers i admire

the satisfaction that comes from managing to articulate exactly what i'm thinking, exactly what i want to say...

Orange Slushie said...

...oh, and i hate my day job

Mark Welker said...

Guilt. Writing a novel is the second most soul destroying thing I can think of. Right behind "not writing a novel". Unfortunately, this seems to be something I'm hard wired with.

Tina Lynn said...

I suck. That keeps me writing. If I keep doing, one day, I'll stop sucking:D

abc said...

Ha, ditto what Tina Lynn said. I like writing and I suck. I better keep working at it so I can get better. Also, I started the damn thing, might as well finish it.

I'm thinking I over share. Sorry, people.

Candice said...

I write because I love it. I can't not write. It's my outlet.

Marcia J Sargent said...

Some people knit; I don't. Some people write music or sing; I'm tone deaf. Some people paint; I never end up with anything near as satisfying as the picture in my mind.

The reality I create on my laptop is richer, brighter, and more satisfying than anything else I stretch my life and my brain with.

Caroline Starr Rose said...

I have something unique to say, and if I keep at it, my writing can only improve.

Kat Sheridan said...

Bourbon. And Vermouth. And peer pressure. I really need to stop hanging around writers. They're the ones who talked me into this insanity. I used to have a nice, quiet life as a reader. Then I met some writers, and life will never be the same again...

Lucinda said...

Selfish motivations actually -

Identity (without anyone else's permission)

Sanity (or insanity on some days)

Satisfaction (priceless)

Hope (without this one...well...)

Magaly Guerrero said...

At first, the satisfaction of finishing a particular piece and reading it. Today, the hope that one day a nice bunch of people get to read what I write and share the feeling.

Erasmus said...

@Candice: I understand you totally. I write because I really enjoy it and not because I have to - not even with deadlines. I write, it happens and sometimes I get published, that's great, but it's never a reason to stop loving what I do.

Madeleine said...

The guilt.

Jeffrey said...

I figure it is one of two things. Either writing keeps me sane or writing is a result of my insanity. I have trouble deciding which sometimes...

Gerri said...

* Thinking about my sons keeps me going. Although they're much older now I don't want them to see me giving up on my dreams.

David F. Weisman said...

Other then writing, I haven't really done much worth remembering. So I have to make that worth remembering.

Pat said...

I write because it's the only thing I do that uses all of me. It takes everything I've got and I never, ever get bored of it. Tired yes, bored no. And I've scrolled the posts and haven't noticed anything about reading, but can I mention that writing makes me a better reader. I read with such appreciation and understanding that I feel enriched by the excellent novels I've consumed.

Nicole said...

The first one was to see if I could do it.
The second one to see if I could do it better.
And so on....
I battle with myself, my imagination, my expectations are high.

Seadhlinn said...

I am very concept-oriented, so I end up writing until I have said what I need to say (if that makes any sense?). That urgency of needing to communicate an idea though story is what keeps me writing. The revision part for me is more about getting to the core purpose of the story, and making the work clear and enjoyable for other people.

Terrance Foxxe said...

I want to be one of the best. I have nothing better to do, and want to be one of the best. I enjoy what I do, and want to be one of the best. Take your pick. One thing I'm sure of, I'll make it, and be counted as one of the best. I work too hard not to have that happen.

clairegillian said...

It's like the urge to procreate. If you're fertile enough, you get this baby that you think is God's gift to the world yet you can't help but have this nagging thought. Is my baby one that only it's mother, me, could love or am I nurturing the next Gerber / e-Trade / Brook Shields / AFV baby star?

And yet no matter what, you love that little piece of you.

Naya said...

I just love to write. It's like an addiction for me. I've honestly never run into a situation where I felt like giving up. It doesn't matter to me if I don't sell thousands or even hundreds of books. I couldn't imagine living my life and not writing. It's just who I am.

I've stopped writing before when life gets hectic and I can't seem to find the time... and all it did was depress me. All I could think about what writing. When I started again, everything went right in my world again.

holly said...

what keeps me going is when you write the novel so far, and then you realize how the main character or characters are a different part of you, and then you say "what would i do?" in a certain situation.

Paul and Karen said...

My characters pester me and talk to me in my sleep. I don't get any rest until I let them speak... When they break into daytime, then I know I've really neglected them.

Kristina said...

Because it's fun and I love it! My favorite parts are the characters. I even dream about them. It rocks.

Mary Malcolm said...

As sad as it is, I'm not good at anything else. I'm not happy with anything else. I've worked at probably fifteen or sixteen different jobs, and I'm only 32. I'd studied to go to medical school, which I loved, but didn't make me feel completely fulfilled.

I sat down to write my first novel and it was as if peace flowed over me. My fingers started hitting the keys and everything made sense. I suddenly felt happier than I'd ever felt at anything in my life.

So. I write because I am a writer. And apparently, somewhere in my mind, I've always known I wasn't meant for something else. I write because this is what I love. Regardless of any money I might make, or how sane it might seem to others, I am happiest when I write.

C Riede said...

I'm afraid of what will happen if I stop.

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