WHY WRITERS WRITE WHAT THEY WRITE
If you ask ten writers why they’ve written the books they’ve written, you won’t get ten different answers. You’ll get a question: Which book?
Because each book captures, captivates and convinces a writer to write that specific story for a different reason—and the reason well might be different at the end of the book than it was when the writer started the project. Let me give you a couple specific examples.
My first military novel, Shades of Gray, (secular military romantic suspense) was born in anger. I went to the grocery store—commissary on a military base, actually—and overheard a couple debating between buying a jar of peanut butter and a can of tuna. They couldn’t afford both.
That stunned then infuriated me. I was upset all the way home, and researched and learned that the lowest four pay grades of service members were eligible for food stamps. That set me off like a rocket. I dropped the kind of books I was writing until then and switched to write stories exposing these plights. The first of those novels was Shades of Gray. It was about a military member nearly losing custody of his son to an alcoholic wife who forgot the boy places because the military member was subject to being deployed. It was happening all across the country at the time. So anger fueled that book and with more research of special challenges to our military members, it hung around a long time. I think there were four, and then three more books, and then several groups of three or four books after that. I guess I’m still not finished being ticked that we, who rest under their protection, don’t stand up for them.
My latest book was different. Anger didn’t fuel it. And actually it’s not a book, it’s a workbook.
You see, it started when I got the flu. The night before Christmas Eve last year, I took a fourth of a dose of prescription medicine and went to bed. Eight hours later, I awakened parched, went to the kitchen for a drink of water, and blacked out on the kitchen floor. Hubby found me unconscious in a pool of blood.
During the two months it took me to fully recover, I realized just how little of what goes on around here—meaning, our house—anyone else knows. I’m talking about the ordinary day-to-day things I deal with all the time. I answered a zillion, “Where’s this or that” questions and “Which account do I pay the light bill out of?” Simple things—to me, because I deal with them all the time. Not so simple for anyone else who doesn’t.
I realized I needed a continuity book. I mean, they could ask me…but what if they couldn’t? What if I hadn’t recovered? They’d be half-crazy trying to figure all this stuff out. Oh, they’d do it. But boy would they be anxious and overwhelmed.
So I went hunting for such a continuity-type book. I failed to find one, so I created one. Necessity breeds invention reason for writing this one. Pure and simple.
I knew it had to be thorough but not overwhelming. Easy to complete. Easy to follow. And it all had to have all the information needed together in one place. Otherwise, they’d still be lost. So I created a fill-in-the-blank workbook. Here’s a copy of the cover:
I felt good about this ICE Workbook reducing anxiety in my family. I remembered how challenging it’d been when my parents had passed and wanted to spare others that.
Then I thought, if I didn’t have one of these, and I couldn’t find one, others can’t either. I’ll share it. And so I have made it available for others as a digital download or in print. The digital download is available now HERE. The print copy won’t be out in bookstores until later this month.
Two books, two reasons. See what I mean?
A book isn’t something you crank out in a few weeks. It takes months, sometimes longer. And if you’re going to invest that much of your life into a project, you really need strong motivation. It can be anger or necessity, a desire to share a story that made you feel great, or something you found inspiring. It can be something that helps you cope or entertains you through a rough time. Whatever the reason, the story you choose to write typically includes something in the story—the characters, the events, or the situation—that resonates with you and touches you deeply.
Some writers write stories to make sense of things. To recreate a situation with a bad outcome into a situation with a good or better outcome. The reasons for what we write are all over the place, but I do want to dispel a myth.
Many think writers write because that’s what is hot in the market and will sell well. That’s rarely the reason a writer writes a book. Not to say writers don’t want to sell well, or that they ignore market trends. But unless a writer writes like the wind, by the time the story is written and published, odds are good the trend will have passed.
Many different emotions trigger writing. And what motivates us to write what we write changes often. Something acceptable yesterday might be revealed in a new light that makes it unacceptable today. There are as many writing triggers as there are writers and stories.
And that’s a blessing. Because just as writers write for different reasons, readers read for different reasons, too. And the writers goal is that when the reader needs what they need, a writer has provided it.
© 2016, Vicki Hinze. Hinze is the award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of nearly thirty novels in a variety of genres including, suspense, mystery, thriller, and romantic or faith-affirming thrillers. Her latest release is The Marked Bride, Shadow Watchers, Book 1. She holds a MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Theocentric Business and Ethics. Hinze’s online community: Facebook. Books. Twitter. Contact.www.vickihinze.com. Subscribe to Vicki’s Newsletter.