Why do we write?

A plot in a novel gives the reader the main character’s goal;  the challenges the character has to overcome to achieve the goal, what’s stopping her/him and the dire consequences if she/he doesn’t succeed.

My own goal is to produce a readable, entertaining and thought provoking book at least once a year. But every now and again, when I come up for air, I try to pin down why I write and why I spend hours at my keyboard doing it.

A year or two ago, I wrote about this in my column for The Deux-Sèvres Monthly.  I asked some writing friends for their thoughts…

Adrian Magson (First endorser of INCEPTIO)

Adrian Magson (First endorser of INCEPTIO)

I write because I don’t really know how not to write. Making stories is something that is so intrinsically part of who and what I am, that I can hardly imagine what it would be like not to do it. Also, writing is a fabulous excuse to not do the dishes and the laundryLiesel Schwarz, steampunk author

I write to explore how I feel about the things that trouble me and to tell stories to entertain.  Ann Cleeves, Shetland series

I write because I must and it’s what I’ve always wanted to do. Simple. I also work hard at it and believe it will come out right. Adrian Magson, thriller writer

With Elizabeth Chadwick

With Elizabeth Chadwick

I write because I have been telling myself stories of one sort or another almost from birth. It’s a deep part of who I am. Elizabeth Chadwick, historical writer

I write because it’s my family business – and also because it’s the best way I know to make a living. Victoria Lamb, historical writer

I have perceived myself as being a writer from when I was a little girl and always had something I was burning to say.
These days I just say it at more length.
 Trisha Ashley, women’s fiction writer

I began writing in the mid nineties for practical reasons. I’d sustained a serious wrist injury that ended my career as a probation officer. For me, writing on a computer was physiotherapy following surgery but also to keep my mind occupied. I was bored at home and far too young to be retired. At the time I had no aspirations to become a professional crime writer. It was years when that thought occurred. These days, I write because I must. Mari Hannah, crime writer

And the master, Stephen King I really can’t imagine doing anything else and I can’t imagine not doing what I do. 

My conclusion so far (This may change, of course!)
If you know what you want from your writing, why you write, your writing will be tighter and more focused.  If you’re not clear now, it will come back to haunt you later in your writing life especially when faced with choices which could mean pursuing one part of your goal but at the expense of neglecting another.

And me? The story was just bursting to get out and was triggered by seeing a rubbishy film at the local multiplex. ‘I could do better than that,’ I whispered to my husband in the dark. ‘So why don’t you?’

And why I carry on?  I just can’t leave it alone…


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers –  INCEPTIO,  PERFIDITAS,  SUCCESSIO,  AURELIA,  INSURRECTIO  and RETALIO.  CARINA, a novella, and ROMA NOVA EXTRA, a collection of short stories, are now available.  Audiobooks are available for four of the series. NEXUS, an Aurelia Mitela novella, will be out on 12 September 2019.

Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines… Download ‘Welcome to Roma Nova’, a FREE eBook, as a thank you gift when you sign up to Alison’s monthly email newsletter. You’ll also be first to know about Roma Nova news and book progress before everybody else, and take part in giveaways.

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