Why Do Writers Become Writers? And Why Do They Fail?


Most writers become writers for three main reasons, not necessarily in this order.

The first reason is income. They hope that writing can create some kind of cash flow from their work. They would like to earn a living, lead a particular lifestyle, and perhaps, if luck is on their side, make a small fortune.

The second reason is impact. Though they might not have thought through exactly what impact they would like to have, most writers have some kind of awareness that they are making a contribution in some way. Contributing to what? It’s all rather vague, but let’s call it ‘the culture’. Many want to entertain readers, but quite a few want to have some kind of more lasting effect on people.

The third reason is independence. When you’re a successful writer, you have the freedom to work when you want and where you want. Most writers have a picture in their minds of a perfect working environment and schedule.

The fourth reason is that they feel that they don’t have a choice in the matter. Something is trying to get out, using them as the conduit for doing so.

Despite their best efforts, the majority of writers I encounter aren’t achieving these goals, even the last one. In fact, many of them are broke, exhausted or both. It’s tough to make an impact when you can’t make a viable wage. And the stuff that is inside them can’t get out, because there aren’t enough hours in the day. Of the writers who are making money, most are exhausted from running around trying to market their work. Before long, they burn out. Why is this the case?

Here are some suggested answers, again in no particular order.