Writing is an addiction, so why do we do it to ourselves?

I asked myself this question back in December 2011. I’ve yet to find the answer…

In today’s literary marketplace, while a tiny minority of books become million sellers, most do not. There comes a time when most of us who are committed to writing have to ask ourselves a fundamental question – why do we bother to do it?

We spend months, years even, agonising over, and getting a storyline out of our systems onto paper, or computer screen, sacrificing a normal existence and suffering sleepless nights. And then when we are relatively happy with it, we send it off to our publisher like a proud parent watching their offspring going to school for the first time.

Like all proud parents, we wish nothing but the very best for our ‘child’, and yet that moment of final separation is when doubt and extreme anxiety enter our souls. Will our ‘child’ be alright? Will it be treated in the best possible way once it is out of our hands?

Nothing within the world of books and publishing is an absolute given. As the doting parent of that literary ‘child’, deep down we want nothing less than a one hundred percent assurance that it will be nurtured by the publisher we send it to, and its readers.

To write a book which grabs the reader’s attention is not an easy task. The whole thing is largely down to pure luck. Coming up with a concept that no other writer has used before is difficult in the extreme, especially these days when the market is flooded with millions of new titles.

If you want your ‘child’ to be seen bobbing around amongst the rest currently available, it simply has to appeal to a wide audience. After all, the days of people having the time, or indeed the inclination, to want to search out a book the old fashioned way and then sit down to read it, and to hell with everything else, are sadly gone forever…

To put it another way, your intelligently written ‘child’ has to compete in today’s marketplace designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator, saturated as it is with endless numbers of mind numbing biographies ghost written for so-called celebrities, or the plethora of cook books, Mills & Boon style romances etal. Not an easy task when you take the time to think about it.

And so I say – why do we bother to do it? especially these days when literary assassins aka Trolls, are chomping at the bit, ready to pounce on your child and tear it to bits to dissuade potential readers from even considering your child in the first place! My extremely short novella Autumn 1066 suffered one the other day…

For this writer it is simply because I have an overwhelming desire to write. Which means I have a tendency to inflict completely unnecessary mental torture upon myself. As for the rest of the writers in this world, if you are acquainted with some of them, not just myself, you will have to ask them why, bearing in mind the anxiety we all face when finally letting go of our cherished ‘child’.

3 thoughts on “Writing is an addiction, so why do we do it to ourselves?

  1. Why? I asked myself that same question countless times during my almost thirty years of being a full time author. And now that I’m retired, and tired :-), I still don’t know the answer. Maybe because the books I’ve published were “given” to me….Now that this has stopped (temporarily or for good?) I have the feeling that a light in me has been turned off…Strange and sad…But also…A relief! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • At my age Bob I know what tired and retired means and feels like. I’ve been writing seriously for seven years less than you. It feels like I’ve been at it for a hundred years instead of twenty-three… 😉


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