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Friday, May 18, 2012

Top 5 Reasons Writers Write

Why is it when you tell someone you’re an author, they immediately ask how much you make? When I find out the fella sitting next to me at a potluck is a plumber, the next words out of my mouth aren’t, “How much does that pay?”

But even worse are those “discreet” people. The crafty ones who slink around the edge of the question they’re dying to ask and come at you with, “So, I bet your book is selling really well, hmm?”

Far be it from me to drizzle on everyone’s parade, but here’s a newsflash: most authors don’t have a Swiss bank account where they store their hordes of cash offshore. In fact, most authors are lucky to have an intact piggy bank sitting on a shelf in their bedroom.

I propose that the real question snoopy-snooperbees should ask isn’t how much do writers make, but why do writers write? What drives a relatively normal human being to stare at a screen for hours on end, fatiguing brain cells to create a twisty-turny plot with memorable characters, all for pennies per word?

Lots of reasons, really, but here are the 5 biggies…

Cheaper Than Prozac
Writing is a way to make sense of and sort through emotions. Who needs a shrink if you can work out your frustrations on paper? Fiction is a safe environment to build a world and play the what-if game.

No Felonies Involved
Some people are hooked on crack cocaine. Others sell their soul for meth. Let’s face it; writing is an addiction. A compulsion. The act of writing gives writers a huge warm fuzzy.

FAFSA or Student Loans Not Required
Writing is an education. There’s always something new to learn about the craft or a deeper level of knowledge to attain. And no matter what genre you write in, there’s always research to be done.

To Avoid Groping TSA Agents
Love to go on vacation but hate the hassle at the airport? That’s one of the best things about writing. Escaping into the world of story saves tons of money and you don’t have to apply for a passport.

To Breathe
The bottom line is that writers write because they must. It’s an expression of self. To deny that self causes huge amounts of frustration and invalidation…which makes for a very cranky person.

Not that getting a fat advance or a juicy royalty check isn’t important. It’s just not the end all and be all of a writer at heart. In the words of one of my favorite authors…

“I write for the same reason I breathe ~ because if I didn’t, I would die.”
~ Isaac Asimov

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas…professionally, however, for the past 10 years. Her latest release, UNDERCURRENT, is available by Risen Books. You can find her at: Writer Off the or on TwitterFacebook, or Pinterest.


  1. Replies
    1. So Dina, there's something I've been dying to ask much money did you--scratch that. Let me think of how to rephrase. I'll get back to you.

  2. Michelle,

    First, love your sense of humor. Second, I've had people call from across the U.S. and in other countries (how they found me is a mystery) to ask me how they could do thus and so for someone who wanted to hire them and what to charge, shortcutting doing their homework and taking advantage of my knowledge. Being a Christian, I politely shared with them that writing and editing is hard work and there were many educational resources available. Personally, I wouldn't have the brass to ask such insensitive questions, but obviously you've met many who do as well. Thanks for your tongue-in-cheek look at this subject.

    1. Wow, Becky. I've never been called. You must be super famous and make LOTS of moolah!

      Seriously, though, thanks for stopping by!

  3. Good post, Michelle, as always. If people averaged the pay for a writer by the hour, they'd most likely get a negative number. Such is the life. You really pegged it with the addiction line. :)

    1. Perhaps I should talk about writer's addictions sometime, hmm? Java, chocolate, murdering characters...

  4. Michelle. LOVE your thoughts and I heartily agree. People's questions almost always dredge up guilt about my legitimacy as a writer. Since I'm not on the NYT Best Seller's list, can I still call myself an author? "Do I look like John Grisham??" I don't really say that...but I would like to!

    I do have to disagree about the groping TSA agents, though. I still have to contend with them when I travel for research trips. What was I thinking when I decided to write about Massachusetts (where I grew up) when I now live in Iowa??? I am addicted to both writing AND history. ;-)

    1. Ack! Sorry you have to endure the rubber-gloved security guards. Perhaps your next book should be set in Iowa, eh?

  5. True, true, true, true and true.

    I love this! Gotta share.

  6. Michelle, kudos! You're so right--couldn't have said it any better.

  7. Great share Michelle~
    I'll admit most friends don't ask me that.
    I'm gonna be ready when they do! I love your
    five reasons and I'm right with you... :)


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