Friday, March 16, 2012

The Most Important Question in Writing

We question our world on a daily basis. Rarely do we participate in a conversation without either voicing a slew of questions or letting them circle our brain. We want to know: How was that possible? When did he do that? Did something happen? What's her problem? What's going to happen now?

Why on car
Photo by openpad

But most of all, we want to know why.

Why does he want that? Why did she behave that way? Why did that just happen? Why does this information make me want to jump up and down, shouting hooray? Why did she say that? Why am I upset about it?

Writers take this curiosity and we apply it to our writing. Sometimes we wonder why we write. Or why we're writing this story? Why is this book important? Why is this scene important? This sentence? This word?
We wonder why our characters won't behave or why we used the same word 17 times on one page. We wonder why we haven't opened our work-in-progress in three days. Or why we hate revising.

In the actual story, we wonder why our character is acting the way she is, and why she needs her goal so badly? Why do the other characters respond to her the way they do? Why did this scene goal change? Why doesn't the ending work?

We're constantly asking why, and because we're willing to ask this, our belief in ourselves as writers and our storytelling skills grow stronger.

The most important question for writers? Why.

Tell me, why do you write?

Have a marvelous weekend!

26 comments:

  1. Love this. We really are like little kids who question why to everything. And then they morph to what if questions. Something else writers do. Smart kids never out grow these questions and go on to becoming all kinds of creative people, including writers. :)

    Why do I write? I write fiction because I love writing fiction. It's as simple as that. That's why I can't quit. As long as I love writing stories, I'll keep writing.

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  2. I'm a writer. That's what I do. It's what I've always done. And I've been doing it for a living since I was 20 years old. That's a long time ago.

    All that time, I've been writing for The Man, the boss. For the past 25 years, I've been writing the equivalent of grey government cheese for decent coin and zero benefit for my heart and soul.

    Five years ago, my heart rebelled at this self-inflicted sentence and it tried to inform me that each day is a blessing not to be wasted because you may not get a tomorrow. Part of that waste was denying the Writer within me the room to breathe fresh air instead of the climate-controlled breeze wafting over my office cubicle. Near-death experiences can do that to you.

    So I started to write for me.

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  3. Great post!

    I write because I have to. All those voices in my head would send me crazy if I didn't them down on paper. The fact that someone publishes me and gives me money is merely an added bonus. :)

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  4. Good morning!

    Stina: I hear you. I was always asking questions as a kid, and hearing, "you can't ask that!" Of course, I'd ask, "why can't I ask that?" Ha! It never goes away. :)

    Joe: When we're spending a majority of our life doing something that doesn't make our soul sing, life gets hard. I'm sorry you had a near death experience, but I'm joyful you found what you really needed--to write for you! Writing has always been my outlet too, except I'm rotten at poetry and yours is beautiful. :)

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  5. Shirley: Ha! Ha! I know. I've got four books soaring around my brain right now. If I didn't write, it would get way too clogged up there! By the way, it's really nice to hear from writers who are published and making money! Woo-hoo!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  6. Great post, Jill. And oh so true. If your telling a story right, your reader will be asking why and flipping pages.

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  7. Love this, Jill. Asking "why" is so important! I write because it's what I love to do and what I want to do with my future. I write because it's a way to really have an impact. I write because God gave me the ability, and I want to use my all for him.

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  8. Jill, you nailed it. All the why questions as a kid paid off. :)

    I write because I believe inspirational fiction can and does bring hope. And that's a message everyone needs. Plus I love to tell stories. (not lies) LOL

    Have a great weekend!

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  9. I write because it keeps me asking the question and keeps my brain busy all the time. When one string of Whys has been tidied up and put to rest at the end of one story, I get to unleash a whole slew of them on the next! Great post.

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  10. You cut the fat and got straight to the heart, Jill! Asking "why?" keeps us seeking - to write, to grow, to wrap our brain around the impossible at times. And even though God doesn't always provide the answer, the search for it is stunning. Life-changing. Jaw-dropping. Heart-filling. I write from the journey toward the answer. Thanks for your insightful words here, my Friend.

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  11. Jill, I have to write like I have to breathe. Cliche', but true.

    We all question "Why?" from time to time. It's human nature.

    "...why we haven't opened our WIP in three days..." Yep, can sure relate to that one. Why? Because sometimes, I just don't want to! :) Honesty. There, you have it.

    Ahhh. But we must forge ahead. Why? Because we're writers. Not quitters.

    Happy Weekend!

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  12. Ooh, love this...it's easy to answer because I recently wrote a guest post about it elsewhere.

    My surface whys are that I love making people laugh...entertaining and inspiring people...

    The deeper reason is that I think stories are ingrained in me...and I just love telling them. Telling stories is amazing way to entertain and edify at the same time.

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  13. Because I love doing it and would feel so sad if I didn't.

    I think that many of us write because words and stories have always meant so much to us. Books can be our escape, our BFF, our "medicine," heck, our therapy. ;)

    Great post, Jill!

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  14. Yes, Melissa Tagg did a guest post addressing this very thing on The Writer's Alley this week. Like her, I want to entertain, but I think I just love the creativity of it. Molding something from nothing.

    Why is a HUGE word in the writing world!

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  15. Love this!
    Yeah, why is a good question. I think because I have to in order to get the characters out of my head. LOL

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  16. This question is floating around the blogosphere this week.
    I will repeat my answer because, well, it's the answer I'm settled on:
    I believe the word "writer" is written in my DNA -- both my genetic and spiritual DNA.

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  17. Thought provoking post here.

    I didn't start to "seriously" write until about 10 years ago. I felt something calling me to do it. It's something that I can't really explain, probably because it's between God and myself, where only I'm supposed to understand. I can tell you that I am never more at peace than when I am writing...a true calling.

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  18. I write because I'm addicted to putting things down on paper. It was hard for me to go from hand writing my books to using the typewriter. I do love composing a story on the computer now. Why? Because it's fun. I should let myself have some fun soon.

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  19. Connie: I hope so! It's good to ask ourselves why at every stage, but maybe during revising the most? Why should this scene be here? That sort of thing? Thanks!

    Lindsay: What a beautiful answer! I'm nodding to all of your reasons. Same here!

    Jessica: You just like to fib. Admit it. Ha! Sorry...no, I love your explanation. We do need hope. I need hope! I love inspirational romance. :)

    Ayda: Writing does keep the worry bug at bay, doesn't it? Love it!!

    Donna: Wow. Love your answer! So beautiful! And I love when I finish writing a book and realize it answered a "why" in my life I didn't even know I had. Therapeutic. :)

    Cynthia: Sometimes I just don't want to either. You're not alone! I love that writing is so vital to you. I know how you feel!

    Melissa: Making people laugh is such a treasure! Everyone needs laughter. It has healing properties. :)

    August: True! It is our therapy! And reading is still my favorite hobby. To be able to create a book--it's the most amazing sensation in the world!

    Sherrinda: Oh, thanks! I'll have to check out the Alley post! And I love that feeling too--of creating. Mm, mm!

    Jennifer: The voices speaking to you again? Ha!

    Beth: Love that! Writing is in your DNA! What will they call the gene? We should come up with a name!

    Loree: I'm nodding. Yes. I get this. I started writing for my own amusement, but as the years have passed, I too have felt a calling. There have been times I've wanted to quit, but God won't let me. And I'm so glad!

    Thanks so much for stopping by! Happy St. Patrick's Day this weekend!

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  20. Nancy: I love typing! It IS fun! I like being able to copy/paste big sections or backspace to delete. But it's also fun to write on paper. I keep a journal, and I'm always writing out lists. I'll bet you write yours on cute paper!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  21. Writing is like breathing. If I wasn't on the Via de la Publication, I'd be writing blogs, skits, letters, notes, and cards.

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  22. I write because I love words. Choosing the right ones is rewarding. Playing with them is fun. Using them to bless others makes me feel good.

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  23. I write because I ask "what if" as much as "why." And then I invent stories to answer my questions. Jill, your blog site is beautiful.

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  24. I love this, Jill! You're so right...our curiosity keeps us asking why, and it sure is fun finding out the answers.

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  25. Jill:
    Sometimes, I write to gain perspective. Other times, I write because something needs to be said. Yet other times, I write to spread God's message.

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  26. Susan: Same here! I just love writing. Anything!

    Keli: It is fun putting them together. I spend more time rearranging the words now. It's great!

    Shay: Oh, yes! Fantastic question. I'm a big "what-if-er" too!

    Julie: Deep down we're just nosier than non-writers! :)

    QuietSpirit: I agree. We write for different reasons, and they often change while we're writing. :)

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

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