Friday, August 10, 2018

Why Do We Write Books?

I just finished an introspective look at why we write and it made me affirm all of the reasons why I write.  Do you know why you write?  To understand and embrace the answer will make you better at marketing your works.

Mark Edmundson is a prize-winning scholar, a professor, and the author of Why Read?,  Why Teach?, and other books, including the one I just consumed, Why Write?  A master Class on the Art of Writing and Why it Matters.

Some writers will say that writing comes naturally to them, that it is an art that just comes out of them.  If they didn’t write, they wouldn’t know what to with this energy and desire to share their thoughts, experiences, fears, losses, humor, desires, and all aspects of being human.  For them, writing is cathartic, therapeutic, and deeply tied into their identity.  They are what they write.  They live to write.  Perhaps they only know about themselves from what they discover within their writings.

But aside from the psychological drive to write, we write for many reasons.  Sometimes it’s for the money.  Other times it’s a game, a way for our ego to be expressed. Many write because they really are coaches or teachers, giving their wisdom out, page by page.  Others find the act of writing to be like praying, placing themselves into a meditative state.

Writers like to learn and discover so they use writing as their reason to conduct interviews, perform research, and focus their ponderings upon.

There are writers who use their works to exact revenge – revenge against those who wronged them or what they believe in.  The pen – or laptop – becomes weaponized in the hands of a writer with anger in his blood.

Writers often feel the need to correct the permanent record, to show missing facts, provide alternate theories, to fill in missing viewpoints.  Others recognize their writings help supplement the shortcomings, imperfections, or impossibilities of life, using fantasy and dreamy visions to give us not one world, time, and dimension, but an infinite amount of each.

Or maybe we write because we are borderline insane.  Or perhaps it’s really a learning disorder or an undiagnosed disability to be a writer.  After all, the writer usually expresses desires over facts, raises questions when no adequate answers could appear, and often demands the world be better, different, or nicer than it could ever be.

Only in our writings can we experience deep love or amazing sex, be heroes, win championships, and discover fantastic truths.  Our writings reflect our wishes.

Many writers pen books in hopes of becoming famous, of being worshipped and remembered fondly, long after they take their final breath.

Writers write to work out their shortcomings, from bad childhoods and broken homes to lousy marriages and disappointing careers.  They may write, inspired by their real-life defeats and frustrations, or directly about them, providing comfort in tearing apart those they blame for wrongs and injustices.

But writing strengthens us – our mind and spirit.  It helps us grow and it comforts us.  It drives us to seek answers and to change the world.  We are on a journey to witness, even create, truth and beauty.

The writer is mission-driven, acting out of purpose, pleasure, and principle.  He or she will write because there’s a reward in the craft, because writing is a doing and it’s a fulfilling act that comes to us naturally.  Writing, for many of us, is our destiny and few things in few instances can drag us away from practicing it.

Why do you write?  You answer it each and every time you write.

Here are some excerpts from Why Write?

To Find Beauty and Truth
But one might say to start that writing’s ultimate goal should be to do something for others as well as for oneself. Writing is about enlarging the mind, the expansion of consciousness.  We’re told that writing is about finding the truth and infusing it with some beauty, too.  But what does that mean?

To Change the World
Should you try to change the world – or some small corner of it – with your writing?  Ultimately every young writer must decide if she will make the attempt.  Writers achieve gains for themselves, or they try.  As we’ve said, they can develop their minds and expand their spirits, and they can fail in the most satisfying and profitable ways.  But what about the writer and the world outside her head and heart?  Can writers change the world?  Should they even try?

To Get Even
Writing for revenge may not be as dangerous as writing for money or fame or love.  It can get you moving in the morning give you a jolt.  But in the end the purer and more detached spirit, the spirit of a Tolstoy, who writes to elevate mankind, is the one most likely to prevail…

How does the writer get even?  A thousand different ways!  The most common way, perhaps, is through fiction.  He relives his family life in his imagination and he gets the chance to call it as he sees it.  All of the culprits are there:  feckless mother, monster father, the siblings who crushed the tender author’s tender sensibility – or tried.  (Freud tells us that when we dream of flourishing insects we are probably dreaming of brothers and sisters.)  They are all disguised thinly enough…

Socrates knew that money and the truth did not sort well with each other. He took no cash for his teachings and castigated his enemies, the Sophists, for their money hunger.  Socrates knew the score – the writer in search of hard truths cannot expect money – or much love either.  (For that he should join a rock band)  No accident that the people of Athens rose up and condemned Socrates to death for disturbing their mental peace.

Why Bother?
Writing is backbreaking, mind-breaking work.  So, one might readily ask:  Why bother?

Why write when the work is as lonely as it is? … Writers spend a great deal of their time alone and are in a certain sense always alone.

Go Writing!
Because writing is one of the best acts a human being can turn his hand to.  With all of these objections on file, and more besides, the case of writing remains overwhelming.  Writing is a great human good, even a higher good than most of its best-known and most articulate advocates have told us.

The Sacrifices Of A Writer
And the writer?  Surely the writer would like to live.  But from the time he throws himself into the game of making worlds with words, his actual life can become a secondary piece of business.  At best, what others call his actual life is the sap that feeds the flower (if it is a flower) of his mind.  He stops living and he begins observing. All that he sees exists first to stock his mind with images and metaphors and tales.

We Discover As We Write

We want to have our say, let the world know our truth.  But first of course we want to know it ourselves.


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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2018. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America and participated in a PR panel at the Sarah Lawrence College Writers Institute Conference.

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