Simple enough question, but I’m guessing there will be wildly different answers.
What is the ultimate goal of your writing? To pass the time? To find fame and fortune? To change the world? To leave something behind? So scholars in the future can debate the meaning behind your work? To scratch an itch?
What end result do you have in mind when you put pen to paper (or fingers to laptop)?
I think it’s a combination of to scratch an itch and to change the world … I write about serious issues: abuse, sexual predators, family relationships via romantic suspense fiction.
So I guess it’s almost a form of therapy too – since some of my characters take on some of my experiences. So it is a way to release things I or my children have been through.
To be able to quit my detestable day job.
I was going to say that I have to and that Erik is mean for saying that’s not true. But he’s right; that doesn’t fully answer the question.
I’m afraid I want to change the world. God knows why I ever thought I could (my mother, for starters) or why I haven’t learned yet that I can’t.
Taylor K. says
For a number of reasons. Primarily, I’d have to say I hope to entertain others with my writing. This is essentially what I have to do if I ever want to make any money doing this, after all, and I love anything that allows me to never work in retail again.
Stephanie Zvan says
I’ve always told myself stories. Sometime in early adulthood, I realized it would be more healthy if I limited my characters to people I didn’t know. Not too long after that, I noticed how much I was spending on art supplies to scratch my creative itches. I started writing instead. When I realized I wasn’t going to stop, I decided to get good at it.
My most immediate goal in writing is always to free up space in my head. If I don’t, it gets very crowded in here. My current short-term goal is to get the first book off to agents and start on the second. My long-term goal is to get good enough to do justice to this involved, delicate idea I’ve got. I suspect that’s at least a couple more books out.
If you want to talk about persistent, thematic-type goals, then according to my stories, I apparently want to tell the world that it just isn’t that simple.
At first, I began to write just to see if I could tell a story like the kinds I like to read. Could I create my own world with my own characters and actually finish it, and have it be something I was proud of, in the end?
Now that that novel is finished, I find myself unable to leave the world alone. I’ve written a sequel, even, and my mind won’t let it go, beginning to plan for yet another story in the series.
1) I feel as if there is one epic tale within me that simply must be fleshed out into a tale I would enjoy reading.
2) I would like to share this story with others who would appreciate it.
Well, I write because it’s just the way I am.
Heidi the Hick says
Can’t stop thinking about this! Fascinating reading comments!
Honestly I do have another writing goal and it’s kind of embarrassing. But here goes:
I want someone to read my book(s) and tell someone else that it was amazing and Heidi is an excellent writer.
Arrrggghhh the curse of ego!
I’m with LindaBudz and bunnygirl.
If I’m totally honest with myself, and I usually am because I’m a very bad liar and I can see right through me, I’d have to say I write because ultimately I want people to like me. I want them to think I’m witty and clever. I want that feeling that the 8-year-old gets when he brings home a spelling test with 100% on it and leaves it somewhere visible so Dad can discover it and gush about how smart he is.
Since I have very few other discernible skills, writing is the best way I have of achieving that feeling. (Are you reading, Dad?)
Julie Weathers says
As a journalist, I used to think the AQHA Sprint Award. The trophy goes with my decor.
As a novelist, I enjoy my stories. I love it when the characters come to life and tell me to just get out of the way and take notes. I want to be able to share these worlds with others. I want to introduce them to fairy dragons and enchanted, poetry-spouting jars and the erotic dancer who wants to be a spy for a beautiful elf he is smitten with and the accident-prone wizard and… Well, you get the idea.
Best of all possible worlds would be to write for a living as well as living to write.
Michele Lee says
I write because I like to create. I like to work at something, to refine it, to identify and meet and surpass the challenges. I like looking back, at this story I’ve told and feeling that it’s just right.
Now, I see to publish 1) because I think I’m good enough and 2) because I’d like to build a career that brings in a dependable (if not useful) contribution to my family. And by dependable I don’t mean on time, I mean I want a career with regular sales/contracts. I want to be dependable and valuable enough that publishing picks me.
Somerset Maugham wrote a short story about a man who decided to write, and he had everything in place to do it, he took time off, found a peaceful spot, but before he got down to the actual writing he decided to read and read and read some more, until he was incredibly well informed, then died before he ever got around to writing. I read the story some time ago and thought it incredibly sad.
I feel different from most of the others who have commented. I’ve only recently decided that I need to write. I have gone through a lot of my life avoiding writing. I’ve read lots, but with university papers (yes I studied English Lit) I sweated every word, not sweat like perspiration dripping either, more that I struggled. I always felt everyone else said everything so much better. I love other people’s words, but writing doesn’t come easily to me.
So, why me now? At this stage in my life I need to find my voice. It might be a form of ‘therapy’ that many use to explain why they write. But it’s not that I have to get something off my chest. Writers and readers all the time talk about voice and I feel I have lived my life and come to realize I haven’t got one. So I am writing for me, to find my own voice. To find me in my head and learn to listen to me better, before it’s too late.
To write a book that I am proud of.
For non-fiction, I couldn’t find the information I wanted about dragon mythology. So I went and found it and put it online. My main motivation was wanting to make it available to other people. I won’t get fame or fortune from it (unless something really strange happens).
I write fiction for fun. It’d be nice to be published, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to obsess over stuff like that. It’d stop being fun if I did.
Odo fitz Gilbert says
I’m not one of those people who frame my work in “goals”. I suppose that I would like to tell stories and have people read them and like them well enough to buy/read the next one. (Poul Anderson once said, “I’m competing for beer money. If I write a story that makes someone give up a six-pack — I’ve been successful.”
I’ve been *telling* stories to people for more than 20 years. Putting it down on paper has been new, within the last three years. It is, in part a way of reaching out.
I think I have something real to say about adventure, adventurers, champions, and how things really work. I think I can make people feel how it must feel to be in one of those adventures — and I’d like them to feel it.
I wouldn’t mind a little fame and adulation, but I realize that is unlikely, even if I get my work published.
I have stories in my head. I want to share them as widely as I can.
Milan Kundera writes in The Curtain, his essay on writing called “The Power of the Pointless,” of the “everyday” as “the trivial circumstances [that] stamp some personal event with inimitable singularity that dates it and makes it unforgettable.” He continues saying, “the novel alone [can] reveal the immense, mysterious power of the pointless.”
Ultimately, my goal as a writer is to write rich compelling stories that convey the magic in the mundane and the magnificence in ordinary life, to reveal the wonder in everyday life.
Writing is self-imposed sweet torture.
Writing is my right-brain escape. When I can see the dancer whirling clockwise, then my right brain has kicked in and I am free to let the ideas come to me.
Writing is therapy for my soul. Too much structure and control makes me efficient, but grumpy.
Writing is play. My characters are fun to play with. Sometimes I feel like a kid again playing with dolls. The more I work with them, the more real they become.
Glad to see I’m not alone in this venture.
To see the right-brain, left brain whirling dancer test, copy and paste link:
I have simple tastes.
Suzanne Nam says
ever since i was a kid, i loved reading and, as i got older, i grew to love how simple words on a page sometimes capture the truth of life better than life itself. one day i thought:
hey, i can do that, too.
fast forward a couple of decades… my non-fiction writing pays the bills and is gratifying in its own way, but it’s not enough. and so i write fiction because there are things i want to express and i want to express them artfully. it’s not that important that anyone reads what i write. the act of writing well is, when it happens, satisfying enough.
My goal in writing is to stay sane. Like others in this thread, I *have* to write. If I don’t, I develop severe insomnia followed by flu-like symptoms (fever, aches) and gradually a suicidal depression.
My best guess is that it’s at root a kind of sleep disorder.
Re-writing is different. I do that because it’s fun and interesting, much like gardening or learning languages.
My goal as a writer is to open hearts. I want people to see each other with compassion and know that no matter how different another may seem, we are all human.
Also, if I don’t write I do things like eat too much, shop too much and shout at people. And that’s not good.
Alex Fayle says
Because I’m only happy when I’m writing. Earning from my writing is of course a goal. I’ve given myself 20 years to develop a decent writing career (back catalogue earnings and no [or little] trouble getting each new book or short story published).
Kris Stanhope says
I write because I really want to make someone feel the same way I do when I read an outstanding book. I want my book to make someone laugh or cry out loud.
I would also love to walk into a bookstore and see someone taking my book off the shelf, smiling as they glance through it, then reading it as they walk to the counter to buy it.
Parker Haynes says
Why do I write? Damned if I know! Just because I do.
I grew up in a house full of books, had a wonderful dad who usually had (and was reading): a book in the bedroom, a book in the living room, a book in the bathroom, a book in the car, a book at work. I was fortunate, indeed. He taught me the love of the written word. As a young man, I thought I wanted to write, but that thing called life (and paying my way through it) got in the way.
Now, in my sixty-fifth year, with a body too worn and broken to do much else, I write. Sure, money and fame would be fun, but my greatest fun is the challenge. Meanwhile, I best get out of this crazy and wonderful world of blogs and continue the hundredth (well, it seems like that many) edit of my WIP.
PS You guys and gals are fun! Thanks, Nathan, for providing this space for a community of interesting and thoughtful folks.
Aimless Writer says
I want to entertain, tell my stories, and write more stories. And I want to do this full time. Because writing is bliss. Ideas come into my head and I have to write them down. If I don’t write I go a bit crazy. (Just ask my husband 🙂 I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write.
So, I’d like to keep writing and get paid for it so I don’t need any other day job.
Philip M says
It’s exercise for the mind. Once I finish a piece, I have to move on to the next, even if it’s writing to a stranger’s blog.
On AI last night, Paula said something to one of the female singers… that she was “relevent.” That made me think of this post.
I think all writers want to be relevent, or have their words be.
Colorado Writer says
Is it bad to say it out loud?
I want to write a book a year and win a Newbery medal. In the end, I’d like a wonderful career like Judy Blume or Beverly Cleary
I write because it takes the ideas rattling around inside me like a box of marbles out where I can play with them. I like to study each individually and invent pattern games with as many as I can. Writing lets me share my best games. And it quiets the rattle.
My goal as a writer.
I imagine my first goals are simple ones. I live with the worry I’ll lose my eye sight. Truly, I do. So, I have a goal of keeping my eyes healthy. I live with the fear of being overtaken by arthritis like my grandmother, so I take my vitamins and eat healthy and pray.
Then there are the more complex ones. I enjoy plotting my stories more than writing them, but I do like writing for an audience. The best way to get an audience is through publication, but once I do publish, I will still have the same goal. I want to continue to widen my audience range. Why? The more readers I have the more encouraged I am to write.
I loved reading everyone’s comments. And I saw alot that said writing is therapy. For me, writing fulfills a need to the storeies that plays like movies in my head. If I don’t write them down, I’m afraid one day the movies will stop playing and I will wither away to dust from boredom.
If you do a Google search for the exact phrase, “I write because I have to” you get 47,800 hits.
Hurray for OCD!
Sam Hranac says
I lost track of those who touched on this already. But put me down for a desire to connect with fellow humans as well. I spent some time in theater, and the desire to move my audience is also a part of my writing.
I write for my own sanity and because I believe it’s my vocation. I hope to get published because I want to wake people up to see the world in a different way–to see that the common assumptions of our culture do not lead either to individual happiness or to the betterment of society. I want to help people believe in redemption, forgiveness, and the fact that their lives have worth and meaning. The world can only be changed one person at a time.
Writing is such a personal experience and our own motivations may vary. Sooner or later someone is bound to nitpick another’s stance on the matter. I say, if that individual wishes to declare to the world that writing is a deep rooted passion of theirs and they feel an innate force compelling them to make it a career choice, so be it.
Tom Burchfield says
A little late to this, but . . .
to read the kinds of stories I’m not reading.
to try and make sense out of things.
To create, with words, worlds that my readers and I can walk around in.
Compulsion and a certain generous misery that soaks my soul when I don’t.
Fortune, though not necessarily fame as I like to stop in at my local bar where I can be just another customer.
tom, you are very cool…
For my fiction: to entertain young people. To create a place they can go for a while when they need to get out of the “real” world. To encourage people think and ask questions.
For my nonfiction: to justify the time I spend chasing interesting bits of research by turning them into publishable entertaining useful bits.
In all writing — to communicate and make a connection with people I cannot see and speak with.
Oh…forgot my last goal…to always know that what I wrote today was the best thing I can do now, but not the best thing I’ll do tomorrow.
must avoid the surrender to dead air
I write in the hope that someday someone will read my work and find a true and human thing that makes them realize that they are not alone.
Indu Nair says
I write because literature is my religion, it is my way of connecting to the self.
As as Yann Martel put it, “Literature makes one existentially thicker” and I experience this all the time when I read.
My Goal as a writer is to communicate with readers the same way so many authors have communicated with me through their books, helping me realise a little more about life and the self and this incredible world.
Erin Miller says
My goal as a writer is to meet Nathan Bransford. I want to write a novel worthy of a decent query letter, to write a query letter worthy of Mr. Bransford’s attention, and to submit a full that Mr. Bransford will want to sell to a great publisher. This will hopefully result in lunch and a contract and a sunny vacation in CA. And while I’m waiting for that to happen, I keep writing, because Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” I will meet you one day, Nathan Bransford. I plan on it.
If I didn’t want to sell my work, I wouldn’t be reading agent blogs.
To write stories.
I would have thought that to be self-explanitory and am suprised there are other answers.
My goal as a writer? To be read.
Why I write the fiction that I write? Because it’s the life I’d like to have had.
My goal as a writer is to write, and improve my writing. that’s it. If I can become better by tomorrow than I am today, I’m happy. Now, I’d very much like to get an agent, a publisher, and have my work read and enjoyed by a wide audience, but When I sit down at my keyboard I’m not really thinking about that. I just want to write.
I don’t really have a goal as a writer. I write because I have to. When I finished my first novel I felt a sense of relief that it was done and now I had the time to start novel number two.
The story ideas keep filling my head and I have to write them down. If I can make some money in the process, that’s good and if sombody enjoys reading it, even better.
I WANT IT ALL!
I want to be a good writer. I enjoy developing my craft, honing, polishing, refining. I could work on the same ms forever and not get anything else done but like an artist, I’m learning when to lay down my brush and say, “It’s finished.”
I want to inspire people, to make them want to reach, to make their lives a little better, to make them think.
What is my goal as a writer?
There are so many goals I have as a young writer. I want my readers to find refuge in the worlds my books create, speaking as I tend to stick with fantasy. I want them to find what I found at an early age. Writing as a refuge of self expression as a creative outlet for your soul. I also have to quote Stephen king on this one. I don't have a choice whether to write or not, it was something I was born to do, crafted for this career. Without the fortune and fame, I will be doing the same things I am now, writing and reading. I guess what I am saying is my goal as a writer is to inspire young people to find their love of reading. To show them, that imagination and a little luck can take you far. All I’m waiting on is the luck part of that merger.
There was also another opinion risen I would like to call attention to. I do not chose to write, because I use it for income, I’m a 17 year old girl in the process of writing a 30 000 word novel, I write, because I love it. I didn’t have to start writing, I did it, because it came naturally, it was what I did as a child it is what I would like to do. I wrote a children’s book at the age of 6, on display in my school library still and in city hall library, because I love it. I love letting the voices in my head wreak havoc on my notepad. I love that my characters haunt my dreams with new ideas, until I come to writing them down. So, yes I write, because I HAVE to and simply, I LOVE writing.
I write, for children like myself and for those who are not. I guess in short, my goal as a writer is to not only entertain, but to share the things I love and to invoke that in others.