At some point in the process, frustrated by writer’s block or the editing process, you may find yourself asking this question. But that’s not the existential dilemma we want to address here.
We want to point out that before you start, and throughout the writing and editing process, “Why am I writing this?” is a critical question. When you think about why you are writing, it becomes clearer what you should write—what details should be included; how much background research you need to do; whether you want to use direct quotes or instead summarize events without dialogue; whether you start at the beginning and present details factually and in chronological order or go with a less formal structure and include thoughts and feelings along with the facts—and even what details, events or people you leave out.
So think about it…
- Are you writing to preserve events for posterity?
- Are you writing so that your family can understand their history or your own personal life journey?
- Are you writing to share your expertise or remarkable life experience?
- Are you writing for the therapeutic value of capturing emotions and events?
- Are you writing to “set the record straight” or prove something?
- Are you writing because you found something fascinating and you want to share your discovery?
Writing is a wonderful exercise. It can help us organize information, process thoughts and emotions, preserve stories and communicate information. But while anything can be a valid reason to write it’s not always the right decision to publish.
Which brings us to the follow-up to “Why am I writing this?” which is “What will I do with it when I’m done?”
- Will you file it away for your own eyes only?
- Will you share it with a few friends and your family members?
- Will you make it available to complete strangers?
Before you put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, remember to think about why you’re writing and how much of it you plan to share with others. And if you find yourself stuck in the writing process, go back and rethink your “whys”—you may find that they will help you figure out what it is, exactly, you are trying to say.
This spring, Legacy Isle Publishing’s parent imprint, Watermark Publishing, will release an as-yet-untitled guide to writing memoir from bestselling author Darien Gee. This guide will address critical topics concerning writing, specifically with the Hawai‘i memoir writer in mind, as well as provide helpful exercises and advice from published authors. If this blog post has gotten your writing wheels turning, you’ll want to check back with us throughout 2014 as we post excerpts from the guide and guest posts from author Darien Gee.