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?
Mary Malcolm says
Now, if you ever ask the question what keeps us submitting, my only answer could be: A deep, horrible, underlying masochistic streak. 🙂
Regan Leigh says
I keep writing because I can imagine how wonderful it will feel to finish these edits and know that I completed my first novel. 🙂
I just enjoy doing it. 🙂 I'm not sure if I'll ever get where I want to be, but I've always loved writing and have always wanted to write books, and especially would like to write books that other people actually read. I figure if I work hard enough, I'll eventually get there. In the meantime, I have far too much fun.
I have gotten discouraged enough to not write for a few months before, but that wasn't so much the writing itself as going through a really difficult/stressful patch of life in general.
Then there's writing…
Melissa Pearl says
I love getting lost in my stories. Sitting down to write is the favourite part of my day/week. I just love it 🙂
Writing gives me a sense of control in a world that is so totally out-of-control. In my stories I can create the passion, the turmoil, the environment, the conflict, and everything in between. I can create life and take it away. I can explore a first kiss even though mine was so very long ago. It isn't easy, by far, but writing is familiar and empowering. It has been a part of my life for so long that I don't know what I would do without it.
Lindsey Edwards says
The characters in my head keep nagging me until I do as they say. Not only that but things I see or words I read or something I hear always seems to trigger an idea that I just have to write down.
I think it's good old-fashioned pride that keeps me going. Sometimes the What-in-the-world-do-I-think-I'm-doings set in big time. Then I go read a few books. I know I can write equal to what I read. That gets me souped up to pound the keys once more.
One of the Greek words for "create" translates literally as "come upon." That is my experience. I find my stories like so many seashells rolled up onto the shore. And of course you pick them and show others what you have found.
I've written and completed four novels: one for adults, two for children, one for YAs. I haven't put the work in that some folk have, but this was partly because I loved delving into other creative things as well. Over the last five years I've done little, but at 55 I have less energy and incentive. However, having said that, I feel this will be my year and creative achievements will come. I've kept writing and creating over the last thirty years because it's fun, and I want to share my inspiration and, hopefully, made a difference.
I write because I want to see how my story ends. I have an idea, but until i write all of it, i don't know, or know what interesting ways the story turns.
I also write because I'm unemployed and keep collecting 'no' along the way. Writing takes my mind off my problems and grief.
I don't think i'm going to submit anything to agents. A lot of books better than mine don't get bought, much less represented by agents.
Besides, just because I'm not published doesn't mean my story doesn't exist because it does. I can have it forever for just me.
Becoming an author was my childhood dream. It took a major health wake up call as well as hearing Professor Randy Pausch's 'Last Lecture,' to remind me of this.
Writing is like breathing. Also, the tidbits of encouragement (aka personalized rejection letters or critique comments from editors) fuel the desire to make that dream happen.
I've been dragging lately. The only thing keeping me going is the annoyance that it's not finished.
To silence the voice inside that says I can't.
Eric at 12:01… for god's-sakes man keep typing… I just checked the passenger list on that bus, and it's chock-full of pregnant mothers, young lovers and puppies. Type man… type like the wind.
I just keep coming back to it. There are definitely gaps. I get distracted. I get discouraged. I think I'm giving up. Then the stories just keep coming – sometimes it's like there are these people in my head (in a non crazy way :D) that are counting on me to write down their story so it can be chronicled and heard, even if only by me.
So I keep coming back. Sometimes I wish it would leave me alone, actually, because it sure is not the friendliest drive.
Amanda Mae Wenger says
My characters never leave me alone! They're interesting people, and they're constantly pleading for their stories to be told. It's just too much fun playing around with them to say no!
I've been writing since I was little. If I can't create, I get cranky. And my frustration with the books currently available in my genre motivates me to write the book I've always wanted to read!
I relish a good story, whether I'm reading it or writing it. The stories I tell are my immortality; my children and my stories will be what goes on when I've checked out of here.
Wanda du Plooy says
Knowing that I have something to say and that I can share my dreams with others!
Steve Masover says
Nobody told me it was optional!?!!
I just opened the copy of Wittgenstein's _Philosophical Investigations_ that I read when I was at university. LW opens with a quote from Augustine's Confessions (I'll spare everyone the Latin): "When they (my elders) named some object, and accordingly moved towards something, I saw this and I grasped that the thing was called by the sound they uttered when they meant to point it out. Their intention was shewn by their bodily movements, as it were the natural language of all peoples: the expression of the face, the play of the eyes, the movement of other parts of the body, and the one of voice which expresses our state of mind in seeking, having, rejecting, or avoiding something. Thus, as I heard words repeatedly used in their proper places in various sentences, I gradually learnt to understand what objects they signified; and after I had trained my mouth to form these signs, I used them to express my own desires."
I write as a means of understanding the world, including myself in the world. As a means of slaking a curious itch.
LOLS. Writers are all nuts. Most of the people who posted have characters screaming to be heard or voices in their heads that won't leave them alone. Mental.
What keeps me going? The story haunts me. The characters visit me in my dreams. I find myself scribbling inspirations on old grocery receipts I find under the car seat as I sit in traffic. I can't stop ……………
It's not what keeps me going, it's what will stop me?
N.H. Senzai says
Sheer Subborness… it did get me published..!
M.B. Sandefur says
Mostly its because my husband pushes me to continue even when I think I can't. And there's always the awesome music I have on hand to keep me focused.
Recently, I received the most awesome fan letter. THAT is one of the biggest reasons I write my books-to help readers escape to a world where they can enjoy and refresh themselves from the struggles of everyday life.
There are many people due to disabilities that depend on us to help them get through the day and bring joy into their lives with the stories we have to tell.
I write because I have to. The need is so great, I feel like I'm going to explode if I don't get whatever it is down whether on paper or the computer.
Hugs to all,
Lisa Lane says
The story keeps me going. Even after the novelty has worn off and the writer's block begins to creep in, I feel an intense drive to continue until the draft is complete. I have never written a book that I haven't enjoyed thoroughly. In a nutshell, writing makes me happy.
Lisa Desrochers says
My editor has a really sharp stick. =)
I don't know how to not write. Writing is how I process… maybe it's akin to a biological need. When I don't write, I can't function, not to mention I'm not very pleasant to be around.
Derek Whisman says
The honest answer is two things:
1) It's true that I feel I owe something to the characters in my head. I want to do their stories justice and share them with the world.
2) To prove everyone wrong who said being a writer would be impossible for someone from a small town like mine.
Firstly, my love for writing.
My love for the story and the need to see things resolved, even if simply for my own satisfaction.
To see how the ideas in my head will transcend onto page.
The people who read what I'm writing and tell me they will kill me if I quit.
The drive to make it better and better and to eventually get published.
And lastly I must return to my love for creating stories. Stories are more powerful than just about anything.
— Stephen Andrew
Mel Skinner says
I can give you three reasons why I keep going.
First…Writing is an essential element of my composition. Who I am has been so long immersed in the art and craft that trying to separate it from myself would be a fatal action. I am writing.
I keep going because I cannot see what I would want from a life without my purpose. If some unspeakable tragedy were to occur and I became physically incapable of it, my mind would still be weaving, constructing, editing, and painting the pictures of my stories. I live to write—I do not write to live.
Second…I am always working towards a greater objective with my writing—something I must do that is not for myself. As I do this, I understand that I’m taking on a huge responsibility and time is my enemy. Yet, I find it is this which motivates me to get up when I am exhausted or keep going when I’ve worked for three days without stopping.
Third…I am stronger than all obstacles thrown in my path. My skin is tougher than any critic’s barb. Opposition is the crack of the whip near my ear. And so, my mind is always open. I learn. I grow. By God, I cannot be stopped!
What keeps me writing is my home office where I can close the door and be completely alone. If that fails to drown out the noise in the house I put on headphones and listen to instrumentals. Now, to finish cleaning out the office so that I can get into it! 🙂 n
Susan Gratton says
I would have to say what keeps me going after all these years is fear. Fear that if I don't keep writing, I'll forget how to write. I guess it's like chain smoking–you want to stop, and maybe you do–for a while–but then you begin to have withdrawal symptoms, and you just gotta have that literary fix. It's in my blood. It doesn't mean I'm any good at it–but I still gotta do it, you know? I can't breathe without it. It's in the air around me–it's my oxygen. Writing is what keeps me alive.
I keep on writing because I’m addicted to it. To me, writing is like caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and marijuana combined. And nothing can stop me from getting drugged. It’s nothing serious, just drug seeking behavior.
Those darned dreams … both mine and my clients'.
When the story's there, it's the best thing in the world. And there's no way I can ignore these characters.
As St Jude's my patron saint, writing novels – and even finishing them – is the best way to make my orisons.
Bossy characters that never shut up.
Dude, you pretty much brought tears to my eyes, because I just stayed up all night revising my 50K word novel…I don't know why. It's a drive beyond reason, especially when you have to be at work at 7am.
Wanda du Plooy says
My answer was a bit short and I wish to elaborate. I write because I am only alive and happy when writing. I have to force myself to stop, and consider food, sleep and my loved ones. Nothing is too much work or effort when it comes to writing… So I am addicted…
If I ever did write a book I would keep going for the goal and sense of accomplishment.
Kathryn Magendie says
There are says I ask myself the same thing – some days I ask, "who'd choose this?" But then I recognize it's not the actual writing that causes these angstual feelings, but all the stuff After the Writing – once I seperate that, well . . . I remember how writing is the big emptier of heads, the releaser of crap, the maker of all those words, the manipulater of language….et cetera et cetera et cetera 🙂
The story is not mine. It belongs to my characters. Its their story and I am simply the tool in which it is told.
Writing is story telling. It is simple form, it is putting pen to paper and letting the characters tell their story.
Being a great writer means that you have the ability to stand inside the story and describe what is happening is words that assist the characters in coming to life.
That is how a reader can imagine and get lost in the story, as if the reader was actually standing there beside the character as the events unfold.
That's why good writers continue to write no matter what the story is, no matter what the characters are doing, no matter what the story lines are or the conversations.
A great story is something that consumes you, where the story continues in your head even when you are not writing.
Wow….I've always wanted to write a novel, but it ended up as short stories: I never had the perseverance to finish. Good job all those who had, and good advice!
You can see my stories at https://thewritestories.wordpress.com/
I don't write novels, but I do write scripts. My first one was written in 9 days. My second one was written in 7. I figure, that you either have a story or you don't, but honestly, half of the time I surprise myself by what I write down that it just keeps me interested…and part of the fun, for me, is making revisions until its good to go.
Chuck H. says
The sure and certain knowledge that I will one day be world famous and fabulously wealthy. Oh, and because the little voices in my head won't shut the hell up unless I do.
Elena Rey says
This may sound weird but there is one thing that keeps me writing – i dont tell anyone my story, i dont answer Whatsitabout? questions, i dont give it to my mum to read and praise it.. 🙂 But this, the fact, that i have not yet TOLD this fascinating secret to anyone makes me want to continue writing so once when it's ready, it's perfect and ripe – i can break it out into the world.
So this keeps me writing, well, this and the vanity 🙂
Melanie Avila says
Imagining the look on people's faces while they read my stories. I live to entertain others.
Right now – nothing. I've always been one of the "lots of people who dream about writing a novel", I've written plenty of them in my head – the stories just keep coming. So finally I decided to become one of the "few people who actually start". I'm close to being one of the "fewer than that who actually finish", except that while revising my first draft I have decided that everything I've written is probably total crap and who do I think I am that this would ever get published anyway, and if it's not going to be published, then why am I spending all this time away from my husband, children, friends, laundry, lesson plans, paper grading . . .
** big sigh** OK I'm done now. At least I have a clinical diagnosis for what ails me right now. Thank you Nathan, for that. AIC – Do they make medication for this? Where can I get a prescription?