Should you or shouldn’t you write that book?
3 WRONG REASONS to write a book:
- You think the life of a writer is enviable and glamorous. BZZZTTT. Any real writer will unfailingly tell you that writing is not glamorous. It’s a lot of lonely, hard work.
- You figure if you can just write a best-seller, you’ll get rich. GONG! You’re chance of getting rich will be markedly improved if, instead of writing, you plunk your entire net worth down on your favorite number at the roulette table. I know authors who made the best seller list, who spent more in promotion expenses than they earned on their first book. Writing is a long-term investment, not a way to get rich quick.
- If you want to write a book because someone said you should write a book, OH, PLEASE, DON’T DO IT! Because that person who dumped the book-writing assignment on you, will not supply you with necessary motivation for the long, hard, lonely work of finishing a whole, well-crafted, readable book. For the motivation, YOU need to really, really WANT to WRITE your book!
5 RIGHT REASONS to write:
- You want to establish credibility, in your profession or field, by authorship. Good. Writing a book really can help gain recognition. Do people turn to you for answers because you have the credentials, expertise and experience to expound on your subject? Have you successfully accomplished something? Then you could write a book about your expertise or your accomplishment.
- You need to express yourself. Wonderful. You should. But there might be a more suitable means of self-expression for you. Consider playing a musical instrument, dancing, painting, sculpting, photographing, filming, public speaking, acting, singing–you might find you prefer another outlet over the introverted, literary work of writing.
- You wish to find reconciliation and make peace–to better understand your life, humanity, the world, what happened, why you/he/she/they did it, and what you would like to have happen next. Writing helps writers heal the past and envision a future. On the other hand, if you don’t love to write, you might prefer to simply talk it out with a trusted someone.
- You want to preserve your own or someone else’s story for the historical/genealogical record. Good idea. Do it. But you might also choose to just yack into a microphone, and let someone who enjoys writing, do the writing of the story.
- Your story (whether it’s drawn from your own life/experience, someone else’s life, or your fictional character’s adventures) would be an inspiring, motivating, wise, entertaining, helpful, or fascinating yarn for people to read. That’s terrific! You want to give a gift to the world that only you can give. Please do. But ask yourself this: are you ready for the writing life? Books don’t magically materialize from brilliant ideas. They get written, revised, edited, revised and rewritten. If you don’t enjoy writing, consider giving the world a gift that’s more expressive of something you love to do. Plant a tree or a garden. Knit a prayer shawl. Bake cookies. Put on a puppet show at the children’s library. Change a tire. Build a treehouse. Drive an elderly neighbor to get her hair fixed. Mentor a younger person.
I’m not trying to talk you out of writing your book. I’m only trying to help you discern whether you have a good reason for investing your time and effort into an enormous, time-gulping project.
Should you or shouldn’t you? Here’s what I think you should do: enjoy your life. And share your best, happiest, most authentic self with the rest of us. The crucial question about writing a book is: do you want to write?
(If you have a lot of important stuff to say and you don’t want to, or don’t have time to actually write, perhaps you should hire a ghost writer.)
**And I’m adding this very important note from the comment author Rachael Hanel left below (We’ll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down): I would add another reason to NOT write a book: Writing simply to air a grievance or to tell everyone how badly the world has treated you.
You tell me: should you write your book?