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Posted on June 25, 2014

whyiwriteallisontaitWhy I Write. Why do I write?

I really want to give you a good answer to this. An ‘I write because I am’ kind of response.

The truth is, I have never, ever given this any thought. So I shall just have to muddle through as best I can.

What am I working on?

At any given time, I am working on at least three or four different things. Presently, I am

•pulling together a feature article,

•finishing the structural edit for book two of my children’s series, The Mapmaker Chronicles,

•writing notes for book three of The Mapmaker Chronicles,

•redrafting a picture book,

•redrafting an adult novel

•writing a website for a corporate client.

How does my writing differ to others of its genre?

Does anyone else find this to be a strange question? To me, there is only one answer: because it’s mine.

Why do I write?

Writing is my job. It is also my hobby, the thing I like to do most, and my preferred method of spending any five-minute windows I might have during the day.

I probably need to get out more.

How does my writing process work?

This depends a great deal on what I’m writing. If I am writing a feature article, I have a tried-and-true process, honed over many years: research, interview, start at the top, write to the end.

When I write non-fiction books, I tend to break them down and treat each chapter as a feature article, outlining it in advance (just so I know if I can interview one expert for two different sections, thereby saving us both time and hassle), working out what needs to be main copy, what needs to be breakout material to keep things interesting for the reader. Then I start at the top and write to the end.

Fiction is a different ballgame. When I first started writing fiction, I approached it much as I do features and non-fiction books. I got an idea for a character and a bit of a premise for a story and I sat down and started writing, always with an ending in mind. Things like character motivation were a by-product.

Over the years, this process has changed a bit. I still prefer to blurt out a first draft, forging through it, following paths and hoping they’ll get me to the end (which, I confess, I always have in mind). I know where my character will start and I have a good idea of where my character will finish. Everything in between is a mysterious haze.

BUT. (Did you see how big that BUT is?) I have learned along the way how I write a novel. I could not explain it to you, but it has an awful lot to do with sitting at my computer in a daze and typing. Sometimes I read back over my words and wonder where they came from. Other times I look back over my words and wonder what the hell I was thinking (was I thinking?) It is as though there is a direct line from the writing part of my brain to my fingertips and no conscious thought in between.

I have always known I could write a good sentence. What many, many hours of practice has taught me is how to turn all those good sentences into a great story. My great story.

Well, there you have it.

Did I answer the question? I’m much better at asking questions than I am at answering them…

Now tell me, why do you write?

So You Want To Be a Writer bookAre you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait and you can find out more about me here and more about my online writing courses here.

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Or check out So You Want To Be A Writer (the book), where my co-author Valerie Khoo and I have distilled the best tips from hundreds of author and industry expert interviews. Find out more and buy it here.

15 Comments

  1. Samantha Stone

    I can’t wait to read your book. xo

  2. Maxabella

    “Maxabella is like family to me – this cracked me up, mainly because Bart can often be quoted as saying to the kids, “you’re like a son / daughter to me…”

    Thanks for taking the baton.

    x

  3. Rebecca Stephens

    I write because it’s always been rolling around in my head and I’ve finally found the right medium for me: blogging. Now I’m addicted and can’t seem to stop!

  4. Kate Morell

    Hmmm… I like the idea that there is no conscious thought. It just appears. I feel like that. ‘Where the hell did that come from!’ In a daze seems to be the way I write too!

    • Allison Tait

      Oh good. Glad I’m not alone in that. 🙂

  5. Kym Campradt

    Thanks for this post. I love hearing about the workings of another writer’s mind. It’s a bit hard to explain to some why I enjoy writing pretty much all the time – including Friday and Saturday nights – I think I must need to get out more too! It’s just something I really enjoy doing and for me, it is more than work. The fact that I can do some writing for work is pretty special.

    • Allison Tait

      Oh yes – SO special!

  6. Johanna

    I am doing a little feature on exactly this question next month – may I quote this post? I’ve been trawling Google, looking for answers to this question from different people and writers, so this was sort of serendipitous when it popped up in my Twitter feed this morning 🙂

  7. Kelly Exeter

    Ooooh you just outed yourself as ‘not quite as much of a pantser as you pretend to be’!

    {kidding}

  8. Naomi

    An insightful post Allison, a tricky question to answer because it has so many dimensions but I think you did a great job 🙂 I love what you wrote about the process of writing fiction, “Sometimes I read back over my words and wonder where they came from. Other times I look back over my words and wonder what the hell I was thinking (was I thinking?)” Haha! So true. That’s how I felt when I was editing my manuscript. You’re spot on, it’s all a learning process after all.

    • Allison Tait

      Thanks so much Naomi. And yes, it’s a learning process – and the curve can be steep!

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