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May 22, 2014

What Drives You to Write?

Gears with text: What Drives You to Write?

Writing can be a difficult career. Writers can be lonely, plagued by self-doubt, faced with rejections that feel personal and judgmental, and expected to be good at everything (creative and a sales/marketing person!). Not to mention that we also struggle with balancing procrastination and never taking a day off.

And those difficulties are just the ones I thought of off the top of my head. *smile*

Yet we do it anyway. We must have our reasons…beyond sheer insanity, I mean.

Every once in a while, it’s good to step back and consciously recognize why we go through all of those struggles. That’s why when my friend Kerry Gans asked if I would join the My Writing Process Blog Tour, I said yes.

The My Writing Process Blog Tour is a blog hop with new locations each week for writers to talk about their writing process. Read all of the way to the end of today’s post to see how you can participate.

The “My Writing Process” Blog Tour

Kerry Gans headshotI was nominated for this blog tour by Kerry Gans, so let me take a minute for introductions. Make sure to check out her answers to the My Writing Process Blog Tour here.

Kerry Gans writes middle grade and young adult fiction. Her debut novel OZCILLATION is coming out in 2015, and she has had two short stories published. She can be found ruminating on the writing life on her personal blog The Goose’s Quill, and her group blog The Author Chronicles. The bulk of Kerry’s time is spent pursuing her most important Work-In-Progress, her preschool daughter.

Now on to my answers to the My Writing Process Blog Tour questions…

What Am I Working on?

*laughs with an edge of exhausted insanity*

It might be easier to say what I’m not working on. As I mentioned last week, I’m recovering from a severe injury to my ankle that has me in a wheelchair and focused on several-times-a-day physical therapy. So circumstances have slowed me down by necessity and various self-imposed deadlines have slipped.

Writing-wise, I’m mostly working on editing, editing, and more editing. I have a short story and three novels I need to get into shape. At the same time, I’m trying to learn All. The. Things. for a new project. So yeah, going in a bazillion directions at once would be an accurate description.

Let’s just say that I’m glad my day job should be calming down for the next month or two. Maybe I’ll even be able to dig out from the avalanche of email. *eyes 4000+ messages in my inbox* Or not.

How Does My Work Differ from Others of Its Genre?

Believe it or not, I struggle with this question, and maybe many writers do. I write paranormal romance, and that genre typically balances romance and paranormal worldbuilding with a strong external plot (battling a villain, saving the world, etc).

So what do I think makes my stories different? In a word, my characters.

I let my characters be strong and vulnerable in unique ways. Unlike most paranormal romances, where the couple is often made up of a non-human, uber-alpha-male hero (also known as alpha-holes for their a**hole-like arrogance) and a human heroine who’s trying to measure up, I break stereotypes.

I have a shapeshifting dragon heroine who’s stronger than the human hero—but she’s also a pacifist who’s taken a vow of non-violence. My heroes aren’t alpha-holes and even have a few beta traits—but one is also a murderer (yeah, imagine the struggle to make that character likable).

I let my characters be broken and messy because that’s how real people are, and I strive for honest emotions in their relationship. They screw up and they call each other on it. They don’t tiptoe around difficult issues. I’m proud of them by the end of each story.

Why Do I Write What I Do?

It’s a cliché, but I write the kinds of stories I want to read. I get frustrated during the editing process like any writer, but when I’m done, I love my story more than ever. I want to write stories that would sit on my “favorites” shelf.

I write romance because I believe that love is the most powerful, most transformative, most redemptive force in the universe. We’re all broken and messy, but we all can become better and deserve happiness, and the need for love and connection often drives that change.

I write paranormal because the fantasy aspects of the world allow me to explore topics and plots I couldn’t in straight contemporary. Throughout history, stories from Aesop’s fables to Animal Farm have used non-real elements to connect with readers, and I see paranormal along the same lines. Plus, as a reader, I find myself more sucked in by stories with deep worldbuilding.

But mostly I write these stories because I love the characters. Like I mentioned above, I’m proud of them by the end of their story, and I’m hoping I’ll get to share my stories with readers soon.

How Does My Writing Process Work?

I’m a pantser, which means I write by the seat of my pants and often have no idea where my story is going. Luckily, my subconscious/muse knows what he’s doing, and I credit him for all good ideas. (Yes, my muse is male.) My characters regularly surprise me by doing something I wouldn’t have consciously thought of in a million years.

So…process? Um, I take dictation from my muse. *smile*

Hmm, you want more explanation? All right, every story is different, but I usually start with the characters. In my current series, each story idea has started with two characters who logically should never be together (in fact, they probably should be enemies), and I tag along as they discover love anyway.

My knowledge of story structure means I do end up with a story at the end of my pantsing, and while I’m a slow writer, I write clean drafts. That might sound great, but that decent first draft also means that I have a hard time seeing how the story could be better. Thank goodness for beta readers!

Now for the Handoff…

Most tour stops have nominated specific people who should participate the next week. I want to do things a little differently and let you nominate yourself because that goes along with my attitude that everyone deserves a chance. *smile*

If you’d like to participate in the My Writing Process Blog Tour, here’s an open call just for you. To participate, write a blog post next week and…:

  1. Acknowledge the person and the site who invited you into the tour (that’d be me and you’d link back to this post).
  2. Label your post as part of the My Writing Process Blog Tour.
  3. Answer these same four questions about your writing process in the post.
  4. Nominate and link to up to three people to participate who would then post their answers the week after yours.

And as this is an open call, there’s a special, additional step:

  • Let me know in the comments if you’re going to participate so I can add your link to this post.

Next, look for My Writing Process Blog Tour posts from those brave souls who answered my open call:

Do you sometimes question whether the struggles of writing are worth it? Does it help if you step back and answer questions like these that remind you of why you write? What drives you to write? Have you already participated in this tour (feel free to link to your post in your comment)? Or do you want to participate next week?

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What do you think?

37 Comments on "What Drives You to Write?"

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Carradee

I don’t ever question if writing’s worth it, because I figured out years ago that writing is good for me (as long as it isn’t keeping a diary, which interfered with my dissociation/suppression of memory and thereby led to blowups that, well, don’t help matters, with my family).

I write because I have to. I publish because I can. I also want, someday, to be making enough passive income to pay the bills. (I ideally want to be out of debt in the next 3 years, but…that’ll require either a lot more writing output or something to start selling moderately well. Depending on what, exactly, takes off, “moderately well” could be anything from 17 to 267 sales per day, total.)

Jennifer Brinkmeyer

Sounds like fun! I’ll post next week. Events like these force me to reflect and articulate about myself as a professional, something that can go out the window when I’m logging hours writing by myself. Thanks for the open invitation.

Serena Yung
Serena Yung
Interesting series of questions! What Drives Me to Write? Simply because the process of writing a story is the most enjoyable and rewarding experience in the world, at least to me. Apart from that, I also write because I can subconsciously express my wishes, hopes, concerns, etc. (They appear as the story’s themes, for example.) But apart from my passion for writing, my biggest drive is that I love my protagonists (and some secondary characters) SO much, that I really care about them and really want to know what happens to them. And so this need to know what happens next to these people I care so much about, is one of the main reasons I keep writing. What Am I Working On? A novel that’s now 414 pages long but still NOWHERE near the ending, sigh, lol. It’s a Chinese novel (or probably series, by the looks of how long it will end up), as I’ve told you already, and I’m happy to say that this almost daily writing is REALLY improving my Chinese, yay! I also can’t wait to translate it back to English once I’m done writing, editing, and publishing it though. I’m so curious about how my characters will sound like in English! And as for genre, it’s romance, action, some adventure, some fantasy, some mystery, a bit of horror, and quite a lot of comedy at the same time, lol. But if Amazon forces me to choose only two genres, I’d say romance and action.… Read more »
Taurean Watkins

I’m in Jami!

My process is always evolving but my mantra for 2014 is “Never Too Late” and part of that means being willing to dive into new things. I had kind of a burgeoning career crisis this month, and my birthday and Mother’s day back to back didn’t help my uneasiness, but I’ve come too far to quit, and hard as it is sometimes, I don’t want to quit.

This is the only thing I’ve stuck with this long since my previous ambitions to be a chef. I still love cooking and food, but I can’t be what a modern chef is now, I don’t want to walk away from publishing the same way.

Devika Fernando

That was good to read! I admire you for how many novels and stories AND other stuff you handle at one time! I have more than enough on my hand with my normal writing job, one novel and the editing of another novel… still, ideas fight in my head for attention.
Your heroine sounds awesome. I love strong female characters and I can’t stand alphas that are only muscle and ego, although I do write about men who SEEM to be in control.
You have dragons in your story! *high five* One features in my upcoming novel “Playing with Fire”, although it’s only “sort of” a dragon.
I think, in a way, we all write what we want to read… at least we shouldn’t only write what we think others want to read, because the story IS us to a degree.
I was tagged by a friend some weeks ago to participate in the “My Writing Process” blog tour. These things are fun, and I love reading about other writers.

Caoimhe McCabe

Hey Jami,

this is a smashing idea and I’d love to try my hand at it, so please count me in.
I really enjoy your blog by the way, great advice and also a dose of perspective when I need it.

All the best,
Caoimhe.

DasteRoad
Hi Jami! Nice to meet you. I found your blog via the WANA community on twitter, and I have to say, it’s been a pretty cool find! 😀 I’d like to participate in the Writing Process blog tour as well, if there’s still a free spot for me! I’ll give you the link when I have the post ready, likely tomorrow. Your comment about alpha a**holes cracked me up, LOL. You’re so right! Also, don’t get me started on those guys who face some tragic loss only so they can angst around and be melodramatic all the time… manpain mode ON! I have no idea why the romance genre is so full of dudes that really need to get over themselves – but we definitely need more interesting, well rounded male leads, that’s for sure! I see you’re a pantser! I tried that approach with my latest WIP, but I’m not sure how well that worked for me since I’m a natural planner. I was left with a finished first draft with quite a few worldbuilding holes and some questionable logic leaps! It was exciting though and made for some fun surprises along the way. I probably need to refine the method and find what works better for me! As to what motivates me to write, well, I had to think about this frequently lately as I’m only recently resurfacing from a pretty long dry spell. I’m still looking for the core of the answer, but one reason I’ve always… Read more »
Gloria Oliver

Oh noes! I’ve been like swamped with the day job and other craziness. Sorry top hear about the ankle! Hope it’s doing better. At least blog tours don’t require travel!

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[…] What Drives You To Write? by Jami Gold. Nice insights! […]

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[…] week, Jami Gold participated in the My Writing Process Blog Tour, and she invited fellow writers along for the […]

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[…] Thanks to author Jami Gold (@JamiGold) for the open invitation to take part in this blog […]

Kathryn McKade

Hi Jami! I may be a little late to the game, but I have a post up here: http://kathrynmckade.blogspot.com/2014/05/what-drives-you-to-write-blog-tour.html

Thanks so much for this! It’s something we don’t consciously think about too often.

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[…] basics, I had Jami Gold’s blog post for “The Writing Process Blog Tour” dangling in my swelling Gmail inbox for about a […]

AK Harrison

Hope I’m not late to the party! 😀

Here’s mine. I decided to tag along on the blog tour: http://ankhprophecy.wordpress.com/2014/06/01/the-my-writing-process-blog-tour-aka-what-drives-me-to-write/

Thanks for the invite, Jami. 🙂

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[…] for when I participated in the “Next Big Thing” and the “Writing Process” blog hops here. I participate, but keep things fairly […]

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[…] shares her wealth of writing knowledge with her blog readers and workshop attendees. Jami will post her Writing Process Blog on Thursday, May […]

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