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Why Do You Write? Honoring Your Writer Self-Image  

By Kelly L. Stone



Answer this question: Why do you write?

Whatever your answer is, whether it’s to achieve a lifelong dream of seeing your novel on a store bookshelf, to pen your family’s memoirs, or for the simple pleasure of capturing an experience on paper, your answer to ‘why do I write?’ is what I call your Burning Desire to Write.  It’s the sense of fulfillment you derive from writing. It’s that ants-in-the-pants feeling you get when you don’t write. It’s the deep abiding need that only the act of writing will satisfy. It’s what makes you a writer because writers can’t not write.

Your Burning Desire to Write is also a manifestation of your self-image, or your self-esteem. When you feel good about yourself you do things on a regular basis, like writing, that reinforce those positive feelings. Even thirty minutes a day spent working toward a goal has been shown to elevate a person’s general sense of well-being.

Your self-image as it relates to your writing goals, your answer to “why” you write, also gives you a reason to pursue those goals. It doesn’t have to be a lofty reason. Many people write because it brings a solace that nothing else can. Bestselling author CJ Lyons began writing her medical thrillers out of despair when a fellow intern and close friend was murdered. I write is because working every day toward my goals adds value to my life. I feel like I’m living up to something, and that makes me feel good. Writing helps me understand life and all that living entails: happiness, joy, grief, and loss.

Honoring your “why” is the best way to nourish your writer self-image and your Burning Desire to Write; and it’s a good way to stick to your goals and keep up the self-fulfillment that writing provides. Try the exercise below to honor your writer self-image.

Exercise: Nourish Your “Why”

Read through the exercise once, then practice.

Find a comfortable place to sit where you won’t be disturbed for about 30 minutes. Have a pen and a notepad with you, or a journal, or if you prefer to type a blank page open in your Word files.

Close your eyes and begin to notice your breath. Don’t force your breathing, simply watch it.

Next begin relaxing the major muscle groups in your body. Start with your feet, and imagine that they feel heavy and warm. Then move that heavy warm feeling to your legs, your stomach, your chest, your arms and shoulders, then your back, and end with your head and neck. Between each major muscle group, return to watching your breath for several inhalations.

When you’re done relaxing all the muscle groups sit quietly for a few minutes and enjoy the relaxation.

Then turn your focus to this question: why do I write? Allow whatever that comes up to rise into your awareness. Keep focusing on the question, why do I write? Notice thoughts, sensations in the body, emotions that arise and pass. Whatever comes, let it rise and pass, like waves on the ocean.

After a few minutes, open your eyes and begin to write about what you experienced in a this relaxed state while asking yourself, why do I write? Note down the emotional reasons that came to you; perhaps writing makes you feel good about yourself, or it leaves you with a fulfilled feeling.

Next write about why all these reasons make you a writer? What does this say about who you are as a writer? Give some thought to your writer self-image, and note down all your thoughts and feelings.

When you feel done, get up and stretch, or have a cup of tea, or go for a walk. Allow some time to pass. Then go back and read what you wrote.
Hone in on what makes you tick as writer. That’s where your heart is, where your writer self-image comes from; it’s also your Burning Desire to Write. That’s what will keep you going on your writing journey.


KELLY L. STONE ( is the author of the popular TIME TO WRITE series:  Time to Write: No Excuses, No Distractions, No More Blank Pages; Thinking Write: The Secret to Freeing Your Creative Mind; and Living Write: The Secret to Bringing Your Craft Into Your Daily Life. Her popular on-line class, No Matter How Busy You Are, You Can Find Time to Write, will begin again Monday, June 2, 2014. To register or for more information, visit Kelly’s website.

Marilyn Baron - April 2, 2014 - 5:06 am

What a great post. I’ll have to try that exercise. I could use some relaxation. My problem is I write for my day job In public relations so I’m exercising my creative juices all day but I need to spend more time on my novel writing. I wonder if my psyche can tell the difference? I’ve always wanted to be a writer so I get satisfaction from any kind of writing but there’s nothing like seeing your book in print.

Pam Asberry - April 2, 2014 - 7:38 am

I am going to try to find a few quiet minutes later today and do this exercise, Kelly. My writer self-image could use some honoring. Thank you for blogging with us today.

Kelly L Stone - April 2, 2014 - 7:47 am

Marilyn, thanks for the comment. Writing fiction and non-fiction, to me, uses different parts of the brain. You can train yourself to tap into your creative juices for the novel by helping your brain get into an alpa state first, which is conducive to creativity. The relaxation will help with that. Try it and let me know what happens.


Kelly L Stone - April 2, 2014 - 7:48 am

Pam, great to see you. Honing your self-image as a writer is an on-going task. Try the exercise and let me know how it works for you.


Piper - April 2, 2014 - 7:59 am

Hi Kelly!

This seems a wonderful exercise for whenever I feel “frozen” about the why I write. I have no problems with the why I write, but when I think about the larger purpose of what I do, the old self-doubt kicks in. It seems this relaxation exercise would be a good way to banish those demons. I look forward to using this!

Maxine Davis - April 2, 2014 - 8:59 am

Kelly, As always I enjoy the way you think. I will try this exercise. Right now if someone asks why I write, it’s because I enjoy it.

Connie Gillam - April 2, 2014 - 10:24 am

Thank you, Kelly for the exercise. When the self doubt kicks in, I’ll have to remember this exercise.

Kelly L Stone - April 2, 2014 - 1:47 pm

Hi Piper! Thanks for your comment. This is a great exercise for identifying and releasing self doubts. Let me know how it works for you.

Maxine, great to see you here. Thanks for your comment. :)

Connie, thanks for stopping by!


Walt Mussell - April 2, 2014 - 6:20 pm

I write because part of me feels like I need to let people know about the Christian century in Japan. It’s like I write because I feel I have to write.

Kelly L Stone - April 2, 2014 - 7:58 pm

Walt, great to see you here. I love your stories of Japan, and your passion for the subject always shines through. :)


Sandra Elzie - April 2, 2014 - 8:47 pm

Hi Kelly,
I enjoyed your article. I write because, like you said, it’s a burning desire to get the people in my head out “there.” They have a story to tell…and I’m just their way of showing themselves.

Thanks for visiting with us.

Kelly L Stone - April 3, 2014 - 7:25 am

Great way to put it, Sandra! Always a pleasure to visit this blog! Thanks for having me on.

Debbie Kaufman - April 3, 2014 - 6:16 pm

Hey Kelly,
I may need to explore this question a bit. Lately I’ve been asking myself the opposite!

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