Why you should know your writing purpose

One of the top struggles I hear about from writers is the inability to finish a project. Reasons run the gamut from “not having enough time” to “lost confidence.” Rather than tangling ourselves up with figuring out methods on HOW to finish, I want you to focus on WHY you are a writer.

Because writing purpose is the foundation of your journey.

Your purpose is what drives you. Your purpose is what keeps you motivated. Your purpose is what supports and encourages you through the tough spots.

You have to ask yourself:

  • “Why am I a writer?”
  • “Why is this story rattling around in my soul?”
  • “Why is this story keeping me up at night?”
  • “What do I see myself, as a writer, doing in five years? Ten?”
  • “How will I feel if I don’t write?”
  • “How does writing make me feel when it’s going well? When it’s going not so well?”

If you can figure any of that out—and hopefully your answers aren’t tied in any way to making a lot of money, because that’s not going to happen, certainly not with your first publication—you have then found the motivation to finish your project. To get your butt in the chair and write every single day.

Your purpose is what drives you. Your purpose is what keeps you motivated. Your purpose is what supports and encourages you through the tough spots. You have to ask yourself: “Why am I a writer?” Read this post by Kate Johnston | Author & Story Coach to learn why it's important to know your writing purpose.
Photo by Max Apanasenko on Unsplash

Now, I know there are a lot of people who disagree with the notion of writing every day. But in my view, writing is a form of nourishment for the soul.

You eat every day.

You sleep every day.

You drink liquids every day.

All of us do lots of different things every day.

And why?

To stay healthy. Your physical and emotional selves need that daily nourishment to stay healthy. The same is true of your creative self. Writing every day nourishes your creative self. You must tend to your creativity every day. I strongly believe it. I’ve been tending to my creativity every day since I was a little kid (with the exception of the low point in my life when I quit writing—but that ironically proves my point anyway).

MY WRITING PURPOSE

I wasn’t writing every day because I thought I had awesome material that was worthy of publication. No. I wrote every day because I had something on my heart and I needed to put it into words. Half of it was garbage—but that wasn’t a consideration. I wrote because writing is a part of me, and when I wrote, it felt good because I was nourishing myself.

The quality of my writing is secondary and should never trump the pillars of a strong writing routine. If I make the mistake of worrying about whether my stories or articles are well-written before I nail down time management, support system, habitat, or natural writing forces, then I am sabotaging my path towards finishing.

Finishing your project has everything to do with nourishing yourself. You’ve got a story in your heart, and true nourishment for a writer would be that you have to put it into words—all the way to The End.

Your purpose is what drives you. Your purpose is what keeps you motivated. Your purpose is what supports and encourages you through the tough spots. You have to ask yourself: “Why am I a writer?” Read this post by Kate Johnston | Author & Story Coach to learn why it's important to know your writing purpose.
Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

But you have to make that commitment. You have to decide that it is important. Just like you might have decided drinking a glass of wine while watching television is important. Just like you might have decided a vacation to Europe is important. Just like you might have decided spending a day at the beach is important.

Those are random examples of choices that you might be making. So add daily writing practice to your list of choices you consider important. Add writing to your daily schedule just like you’re adding coffee break or email check-in.

Your purpose serves as the foundation of your writer self and pretty much dictates how your writer self will behave.

Whenever you find that you’re struggling, recycle what you believe is your purpose. Ask yourself if you’re honoring your purpose or if you’ve strayed. Ask yourself if your purpose was misguided to begin with. If you’re still feeling lost, then you should run a check of your natural writing forces to see where you might be self-sabotaging or simply not making the most of opportunities.

Finishing a project takes commitment. You’re more likely to finish what you started if you believe in your writer self’s purpose!

Are you a finisher? Or do you tend to stray away from projects? How difficult is it to get back on track?

 

Have a writerly day!

 

10 thoughts on “Why you should know your writing purpose”

  1. I agree, Kate. For me, writing me every day is a must. Some people might not feel the same, but writing is a great stress reliever. Yes, I must finish a project before I start something new. Happy New Year!

  2. Oh dear, yes, staying on track is not my forte in many areas of life. Just now remembering my start and stop with Duolingo. 🙁

    • Staying on track is difficult when we’re lacking the passion and ultimate vision of what we’ll do with that “thing.” I wonder if you had a study buddy instead of Duolingo – or to complement Duolingo – if you’d be more inclined to stick with it?

  3. OOOOHHHH–so you decide to write this article 6-7 years after meeting you. Well, thaaanks a lot COACH KATE, geez! Um-hm, I see how you are, hoarding all the good articles.

    🤔Why am I doing this thing I do?
    😋Nourish.
    😘Nurture.
    🤗Commit.
    😁Spend plenty of time
    So–what you’re saying is–I need to have an intimate relationship with Writerly me. 🤔

  4. Thanks for the encouragement, Kate. 🙂 I’m generally a finisher. I’ve got my first novel (well, since I wrote one in my early 20s and then didn’t write for nearly 18 years) I started writing in late 2014 and finished in early 2016 that I’m continuously going back to to revise after running it through my critique group. I’ve also finished some short stories I wrote back in 2015, and a novella I started December 2017 and finished in early January 2018. But I also have a WIP that I’ve not looked at since probably this past November because I picked up my novel again to run it through the critting queue. But the good thing is I have several projects to bounce back and forth in while one of the others rests! Anyway, thanks for the encouraging post, as always!

    • That’s great you have a selection of projects to alternately work on and let rest. It can be overwhelming to juggle so many, and at the same time we’re growing and learning from the varied practice. We have to do what works best for us, always!

  5. Hi Kate! It has been too long. My fault.
    Timing is everything and your post hits me just when I am entering into a writing challenge within my writers group. Writing everyday seems overly hard at first for most people until they realize that any writing is still writing. I write a lot in my work. No it’s not fiction and in some cases, it’s not very creative. However, I still find myself searching for that right word or change a sentence structure to keep a flow going. I have noticed that the more I write, both fiction and non-fiction, the better both become. So, your advice is spot on. Write something every day.

    • Hey Dennis–not at all. Blogging can be difficult to maintain over the long-term. I know I’ve certainly had my moments of putting blogging aside. Yes–your experience sounds exactly what I believe. Writing anything counts as writing. I think many writers think “write everyday” means working on just one specific project. I also believe that varying our writing strengthens our skills. So the writing you do for work, even if it’s not creative, is still an opportunity for you to practice diction and sentence structure. Sounds like you’re moving along just fine!

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