Knowing Your ‘Why’ Will Make You a Better Writer

How to write with passion and confidence

If you want to be a remarkable writer, you must discover why you want to write. Trying to become rich or famous isn’t enough. Writing can take years of hard effort to get even moderate success. During those years, writers toil alone with little pay or recognition.

Getting recognized as a writer isn’t easy. There’s a lot of competition, and there is more every day. For every new writer that enters the fray full of hope and optimism, other writers have reached the end. They’re frustrated and angry because their dream of being a writer never materialized.

“Unless you discover your WHY, you’ll never become the person you were meant to be.” — Anonymous

How do writers find their why for writing

Discovering a reason for writing takes a lot of self-exploration. The best way to discover yourself as a writer is to write a lot. Begin by writing about anything that comes to mind. If you can’t think of anything to write, take an event from your day and write about it. Don’t worry about popular topics or what famous authors are writing about.

Set a goal of writing every day. Not only will you become a better writer, but you’ll also discover things about yourself. You learn what interests you, and what you feel passionate about. Your writing will become more focused on particular topics. This is how writers find their “why”.

Mistakes writers make in discovering their why

New writers who give up before finding themselves make several mistakes.

Copying established writers won't work for new writers

Look at famous writer’s writing and you’ll see they have discovered what works for them. The topics they pick, the titles they create, and how they structure their stories are unique. That didn’t happen in a day. To get there, they’ve written a lot. And not all of it was good. But they kept writing.

If you copy popular authors, your stories will not do as well as theirs. And it’s a sure sign that you haven’t discovered your “why”. So every day write and develop your skills. Don’t worry that your writing isn’t the best or that your readers will notice you aren’t as good as a famous author. The beauty of starting out as a writer is you don’t have many readers. It’s a gift from the writer god who wants you to learn the craft without embarrassment.

Story by story you will build an audience of faithful readers. And you’ll become a better writer.

Woman doing yoga on a mat by a lake.
Woman doing yoga on a mat by a lake.
Image by from

New writers try too hard to make their writing unique

When people read, they want 1 of 3 things. They want entertainment, how to do something or information. It doesn’t have to be elegant or lengthy as long as it entertains or teaches. But new writers often feel like they won’t get any readers if they stick to the basics. So they write stories with titles like “16 Ways to Get A Poodle To Swim Underwater”. It’s unique, but it won’t get readers. “How to Teach Your Pampered Poodle to Swim” is much better and will get readers.

Once you’ve discovered your “why” you’ll have more confidence in your writing.

New writers expect recognition of their writing too early

Every writer wants recognition. Being known brings readers and money. But it doesn’t happen in a day or a month. For writers who expect fame and fortune to happen fast, they won’t make it. Writing is a long game. And it’s lonely sometimes.

To get through the hard times when your writing seems like it isn’t getting any traction and no one cares, and you aren’t getting paid more than a few pennies, you need to know your “why”. Knowing why you want to write, and being willing to keep writing even without being well known, is what keeps even famous writers writing.

If you are new and have a passion to write, accept that learning why you want to write takes time. It’s a discovery of yourself. But once you have it, you’ll find your writing is easier. Story ideas will seem to sprout all around you. And your stories will read with passion.

If you’ve discovered your “why” for writing, how did you discover it?

Published in The Ascent, The Writing Cooperative, Illumination-curated, Writers’ Blokke.

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