Two weeks ago I got to visit the beautiful Pacific Northwest to teach a workshop about book promotion. I met the most generous and supportive group of writers at BARN (Bainbridge Artisan Regional Network) and we dug into how to find readers for fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.
One of the most important questions to ask as a writer is “Why?”
Why should a reader care about my work?
Why should she invest her valuable time?
And why the heck am I writing this story in the first place?
It’s not reasonable for an writer to expect to inspire someone to pick up her book if she doesn’t know what inspired her to write it in the first place. How can you assure someone they won’t regret reading it when you have no idea why they might get something valuable from it?
So, the first exercise we did in the workshop was to answer the question: Why are you doing the work you do?
I watched brows furrow around the room as the members of the group considered the question. Then, one-by-one, I watched realization hit. When people shared their reasons—everything from giving a voice to baby boomers to inspiring children to explore outdoors—you could hear the passion about their topics in their voices.
Whenever I read a book I love, I always want to know what inspired the author to write it. Don’t you?
So if you’re thinking about writing your story, or any story for that matter, start by asking “why?”. Why am I compelled to share this? What do I want to say and why would a reader care? Understanding your personal “why” will make starting to write an awful lot easier.
For now, I’ll leave you with some pictures that have inspired me to put the Pacific Northwest on my list of places to visit again soon.
I laughed at the “Heavy” tag on your bag.
I like your “Why?” questions. I might have to think about them for my blog.
Lisa Manterfield says
Thanks, Mali. Sadly, not my first “heavy” tags and it’s almost always due to books! 🙂
Glad the “why?” questions spoke to you. I may write more about this later as I dig into it, but even when you take it down to the sentence level, it’s amazing how it can break the writing open.
Writing is a never-ending learning curve, isn’t it?
I live in Seattle! I am glad you had a great trip, and I hope you visit again soon! It would be lovely to meet you Lisa! And thanks for this post. There are always the why questions, but like you said we all have the passion telling the story in some way!