When I ask someone, “Why write a book? What’s your vision?” I often hear, “To make a difference.” That’s certainly one of the most compelling reasons to write a book. “Tell me more,” I say.
As the aspiring author dives deeper, I hear more specifically how they want to make that difference. They share their passion.
And, then, I ask for more reasons. How will your book affect you? Might your life change in some ways? New opportunities open up? How will it affect your family?
As they answer my questions, I ask them to “Tell me more.” They go deeper. We both grow inspired by their vision. I encourage them to return to that vision frequently—daily if they want. Returning to your vision can help you:
- Stay inspired.
- Be consistent and write often.
- Write the right book—the one that aligns with your vision and resonates with your readership.
- Get started if you’ve been holding back or stuck.
A New Twist on Reasons to Write a Book
Years ago, I began a blog post with 10 reasons to write a book. That post has grown each year to over 40 reasons and a free ebook with those reasons.
This year, I decided to ask my clients and a few author colleagues for some of the more compelling and interesting reasons they write their books and some of the surprising gifts that came out of writing and publishing their books. Feel free to incorporate their inspiration into your vision for writing a book.
4 Reasons To Write a Book from New York Times Bestselling Author Jacquelyn Mitchard
I started with Jacquelyn Mitchard and not just because she’s one of the most brilliant authors I know. She also never fails to inspire me, whether through her books, an email or a phone conversation.
Jackie shared, “Writing The Deep End of the Ocean, my first novel, brought me nothing but joy, as difficult as the process was for a new widow, in her 30s, with four young kids; it gave me hope that there was life after death (after my husband’s death) and that I could have something to look forward to, and of course, the enormous success of that book—now with more than 3 million copies in print in 34 languages—largely due to its being the book that started the Oprah Winfrey Book Club phenomenon, was thrilling.”
Joy, hope, meeting—and being interviewed by—Oprah: three compelling reasons to write a book, yes? Feel free to put those on your list and read on…
I asked Jackie about her most recent book, The Good Son, my new favorite (and available for pre-order!).
“The reason for my writing The Good Son was more intimate and personal. The Good Son is about two mothers from similar circumstances, now on vastly different paths. The encounter that inspired the book happened at a writers conference. Waiting in line at the hotel coffee shop, I met a woman who stayed at the hotel every weekend because she was visiting her 19-year-old son in prison: He’d been convicted for killing the only girl he ever loved.
“She was completely disoriented in the world. Like Thea in my novel, she was just a kindly woman with a good haircut and a job at the university who suddenly found herself in this alien world. So the two mothers in the real world mirrored the two mothers in the book—except that they were this woman, whose name I never knew, and me.”
I asked Jackie to elaborate and here’s what she said, “Perhaps the deepest privilege of writing stories is to sit inside another person’s experience and imagine its impact on you, perhaps the most basic definition of empathy. It’s like what I imagine an actor feels slipping into character, letting that other person’s reality shape you emotionally, becoming frightened or enraged or even cruel so you can fully authenticate that character. Maybe it’s a kind of penance: I have this and this to cope with, but at least not that. How do you do this and emerge unscathed? I don’t know. I haven’t ever emerged unscathed. Those emotions don’t go away when the story ends.”
As a reader, I feel that, through offering the experience of empathy, great novelists like Jacquelyn Mitchard make me a better person. Cultivating empathy through reading both fiction and nonfiction help us become compassionate towards others and not judge people by the experiences or circumstances they find themselves in. Would you agree?
The Reason for The Joy of Writing Journal
Sometimes a book chooses you. That’s how it felt in writing The Joy of Writing Journal: Spark Your Creativity in 8 Minutes a Day. But the thing that kept me going—revising it, completing it, publishing it and sharing it with readers—was the idea of sharing my passion for journaling and helping readers find easy ways to spark their creativity through a simple journaling practice. I love to help people connect to their creativity through writing!
The surprise for me came through working through the prompts twice myself—before and after the book launched. I often found the journaling exhilarating; it set the tone for the rest of the day and my other creative projects. Even when I found myself resisting a prompt, I found powerful insights when I examined the experience. I didn’t realize what a gift the book would be to me as a reader!
If any of these reasons to write a book resonate with you, add them to your inspiration list.
Janet Snoyers’ Reasons to Write a Book—and Surprises!
Janet Snoyer began her book, The Family Guide to Medical School Admissions, in my Bring Your Book to Life® Program and published the book this fall. Here’s what she said about her reasons for writing the book and the surprises that ensued:
I wrote my book #1) to address parents of premeds–a population that is deeply involved in a process affecting their kids, and who everybody in my field seems to want to shut out of knowledge.
I finished my book because #2) I am nearing retirement, am deeply committed to equity and a multicultural physician workforce, and wanted my own understanding and wisdom to be transmitted to everyone in my own voice and in context.
#3) I wanted to finish something important in 2021 and move on.
When I asked Janet about surprises, she had this to say:
I was surprised when I held a Zoom book launch party and so many unexpected people came (my daughter, using email, invited everyone in my address book dating back 40 years+ without discrimination). It was a deeply affirming event as many former clients, who are now physicians, spoke up about the positive impact our work had on their future. It was kind of like being in attendance at your own funeral service and feeling really worthy.
Another unexpected surprise has been thank-you emails from parents I don’t know saying I had helped them become better at parenting their young adult and how worthy they felt of guiding their offspring after reading the book.
Do any of Janet’s reasons and surprises resonate with you: Empowerment, equity, legacy, affirmation and knowing you made a difference?
Reasons Gael Sylvia Wrote The Good Around Us
Gael-Sylvia is another Bring Your Book to Life® Program graduate and author of The Good Around Us: Living and Leading from a Place of Joy, Even in the Joyless Moments.
“I carried a desire to bring forth a message of encouragement to others. The weight of the desire stayed with me for more than 20+ years, until finally I met someone who served as both a doula and midwife to help me deliver it. The moment I laid eyes on the electronic version that included the Library of Congress ISBN I saw my words have life.
“Holding a hard copy of my paperback book was like holding a precious gift, the gift that I hoped others would receive from my heart to theirs. The unusual part, keeping with the labor and delivery theme—LOL—is it was a long hard journey and I am glad that I didn’t give up or listen to the naysayers.
As to surprises, Gael Sylvia says, “The most unexpected surprise was being welcomed into a community of authors! WOW! A global circle of people who took the same journey.”
Dr. Lisa Langer’s Mindful Reasons
I had the pleasure of working as book coach and editor for Dr. Lisa Langer when she wrote the award winning book, Deeper Into Mindfulness. Here’s what Lisa shared about “reasons to write a book” and “surprises” from the experience:
- I wanted to offer more teaching and guidance to the participants in the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program, once they completed the program. They were always asking, “What do I do next?” regarding mindfulness and meditation. There was also a need for the material in the book.
- I had always wanted to write a book and finally felt I was “knowledgeable enough” in this area to feel it was possible. (Lisa offered tremendous encouragement).
- From a professional/business perspective I wanted to position myself as an expert since I give many talks to physicians, professional groups etc…
When I asked Lisa, “What unexpected surprise(s) came out of it?” she shared, “COVID happened in 2020 and my book was published in May 2020. The pandemic created a tremendous need for stress-reduction tools, ways to cope with anxiety and depression and methods people could employ for self-care.
The book was simple, straightforward and easy to use, (video interviews, meditations etc…), positioning me as an expert. The book’s publication during the pandemic further enhanced its contribution, leading to my Silver and Bronze Stevie awards + the Living Now award.
- Silver Stevie for Most Influential Woman-healthcare (a new category).
- Bronze Stevie for Most Valuable Service-COVID response
- Living Now Award (bronze) in the category of Relaxation and Mindfulness.
Share Your Reasons to Write and Your Commitment
Did any of these reasons to write a book resonate for you? Share your reasons for writing your book as a comment below. Then share one step you’ll take towards writing it!
And if you’re looking for support to start writing, check out Get Your Writing Done, which meets the first and third Thursday in January and February.
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