Clear the path: reasons for writing

It’s easier to write your book when you identify your target reader and frame the book as a gift for them. That’s generous and all, but let’s be honest: you’re also doing it for yourself.

One of my clients is writing about a trip he took over a decade ago, which he can’t get out of his head. He wants to be a writer, and knows if he doesn’t capture this story, he’ll regret it. We figured out what the trip means to him now, and built an outline and a sample chapter to draw him forward.

Another is writing a book to capture her existing client base and share her additional thoughts on creativity. She knows her popular newsletter is just the start of her identity as a writer. She has something bigger to share.

Another has been working on a biography since the late 90s (!). Career and family commitments have caused her to stall. Now we’re making a plan to move the project forward.

And another has a brand-new program idea that he’s currently testing out with his clients. He knows a book is a terrific way to boost attention for his business, and he wants the book out asap to support that offering.

Everyone’s reason for writing is different.

When I was pecking away at my manuscript in mornings and evenings, I had to remind myself why I was doing it. It all boiled down to knowing that if I stopped, I would have a book-shaped block in front of me, which would prevent other creative projects from taking shape. It’s OK to quit creative projects, but deep down I didn’t want to quit this one. I wanted the story to live in the world. I knew that I wanted to be an artist and that, even if it failed, this book would be a gift to that future self.

I stuck this cat note on my laptop. “I am writing to clear the path.” The cat is now a bit battered and ironically dog-eared but it’s still hanging there. I am too. Straight chilling, never.

What’s your bigger purpose in writing your book?

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