Writing & Publishing Articles, Writing Craft & Tips

Why Do You Write?

Why do you write? What I love about this question is that there are infinite answers. Every writer has his/her unique reasons and those reasons can change based on mood, a phase in life, and/or the particular writing piece.

On one level, this can be a practical question. Seriously, why do you write when it is such a difficult field to succeed in? It can also be a spiritual question. What in your soul calls you to this creative outlet? From other writers, it can be a call for help or community. Why do we do this when it is so hard and it dredges up such painful insecuritiesMy favorite is when it is a question of wonderment and fascination. How in the world do you think up these ideas and what magical force compels you to see them through?

I’ve been going through a bit of a rough time lately, and once again, writing has been a solace. For the first time in a long time, I found myself writing just because I needed to write, and I realized that I felt guilty. As I sat there, typing furiously on my computer — not at the novel I “should” have been working on — just letting out all my frustration and pain, I realized that lately I’ve only thought of writing as “What can be published?”, “What will be a valuable asset to my back list?”, “What comes next in this series?”. And yeah, that’s all great, but I couldn’t help but think: is this all writing is for me anymore? I had to stop and ask myself: 

Why do I write? 

Here’s what I came up with:

I write because…

…I like it.

…I love it.

…it’s fun.

…I’m good at it.

…something in me needs to create art.

…I want to publish.

…I want to make a career out of it (one day).

…instinct tells me to.

…I enjoy the challenge.

…some of the stories I want to read haven’t been written yet.

…I want to offer my perspective on and critique of the world.

…I want to share the beauty I see in the world.

…sometimes it’s the only way I can express myself.

…it sets me apart from others in my life.

…I want to remember what I’ve lost.

…facing the harsh truth about your feelings is easier when you don’t have to speak it.

…I fear my own mortality and want to leave a legacy, however obscure, behind.

These, and many more, reasons are why I write.

Why do YOU write?

Fiction Blog, Writing Updates

Camp NaNoWriMo, April 2015: Week Three Update

daisyIt is safe to say that I will not “win” CampNaNoWriMo this time around. Could I have won? Given my word count from last November’s NaNoWriMo, I think the answer is “yes.” However, so far, I think I am walking away with something even more important than a finished manuscript — two lessons.

Lesson one: I have figured out my best time to write each day. Unexpected events aside, I can easily write 1,000 to 1,500 words in an hour. It’s nothing compared to the vigorous pace of “regular” NaNoWriMo, but it is sustainable. That will get me much farther in the long run.

Lesson two: I am learning how to balance and prioritize. Often times, I focus too much on “20%” activities, such as social media or blogging, and my writing gets sacrificed. While I love putting out a blog post every day and interacting with you all consistently, writing is where I should focus more of my time. And I’m going to try to keep it as my top priority in thought and practice going forward.

Okay, enough epiphanies. Here is my week three summary:

My Personal Goal: 75,000 — or the finished first draft Desert Child, whichever comes first

My Secondary Goal: Create a sustainable writing habit for the future

Total Words Written: 28,938

Words Written This Week: 11,882

Day 15: 1,377

Day 16: 397

Day 17: 1,673

Day 18: 4,564

Day 19: 1,241

Day 20: 1,000

Day 21: 1,630

Estimated Writing Time: 6.5 hours

thinkingThe experience so far: I feel like I am maturing as an author. I am going at a consistent pace, avoiding burnout, and being kind to myself, even on less productive days.

Motivation: My motivation this week has been to keep my writing routine consistent. Even when I hardly have any time, I am still sitting down and producing work. While I will not finish this draft by April 30, I still want to finish Camp strong.

Biggest Triumph: Learning to write in tiny intervals. I’m one of those people who has to finish reading at the end of a chapter. Previously, this anal tendency had crossed over to my writing, making me write for huge chunks at a time to complete a chapter or scene — or simply not write at all. It was all or nothing. Now, I can sit down and write for ten minutes (as opposed to skipping it altogether) without stressing myself out. (Seriously, one of my characters is in the middle of being cremated right now, her corpse on full display before the tribe, and I don’t even care. Normally, I’d have to save her from the humiliation.)

Biggest Setback: There is construction on the highway, so my commute takes longer. Plus, I’m helping cover for one of my coworkers who is on vacation. Long story short, I’m tired a lot.

Helpful Insights: Push yourself out of your comfort zone and challenge your writing routine. I thought writing a chapter each session worked for me — and it does, but it also prevents me from stealing smaller bits of time for writing and limits what I can do in a session. By expanding how you work, you will be more productive and more versatile. This leads to increased sustainability and more consistent writing even when challenges aren’t happening.

How are your Camp NaNoWriMo adventures going? Anything fun to share? Any advice for your fellow campers?

Fiction Blog, Writing Updates

Camp NaNoWriMo, April 2015: Week Two Update

star wars
Evidence that I am not the ONLY culprit here.

Due to a mixture of good and not-so-good things, I have had a pretty underwhelming week two of Camp NaNoWriMo. On the positive side, socializing with great friends and some very exciting progress with The Cogsmith’s Daughter kept me from writing on this draft. On the negative side, entirely inexcusable procrastination and one family emergency stalled my writing progress as well.

The good news is that things are looking up for Week Three. I intend to be anti-social, the emergency is under control so far, and this post and my Camp NaNoWriMo graph have thoroughly shamed me into catching up. While I am not sure if it is chronologically possible for me to reach my goal after this week, I am determined to at least put in a good effort. And Baby Groot says, “I am Groot,” which is always comforting.

For a happier Kate, see my Week One Update.

Here is my not-so-productive week in review:

My Personal Goal: 75,000 — or the finished first draft Desert Child, whichever comes first.

Total Words Written: 17,056

Words Written This Week: 3,901

Day 8: 1,283

Day 9: 1,062

Day 10: 0

Day 11: 0

Day 12: 0

Day 13: 0

Day 14: 1,556

Estimated Writing Time: 2.75 hours

The experience so far: Obviously, this has been a rough week. I’m trying very hard not to beat myself up too much. I am always my worst critic.

timingMotivation: Does potentially insane optimism count? For some reason, I still feel like I can pull this off. Yes, it is going to be brutal, and yes, I will probably have to put in at least one 10k day over a weekend. But I still think I can pull this together and get this draft written (at least by early May) so I can go back to the safe (ha!), comfortable (ha ha!) world of Desertera.

Biggest Triumph: Getting back to writing after four days off. I know that seems simple, but once I get in a rut, it is really hard to get back on the horse, so-to-speak. My secondary goal for this Camp NaNoWriMo is to figure out a more sustainable writing routine. No more insane word counts and one-month, one-book quick fixes for me. I need to get in the routine of writing at least five days a week or I will never sustain this as a business.

Biggest Setback: There is a rather ginormous reveal at the end of this book, which necessitates a lot of foreshadowing throughout the draft. Silly me, I revealed way too much too early, and I had to go back and rewrite a scene. In total, it took me about 20 minutes of typing, but it also took me about three days of procrastinating and avoiding fixing it.

Helpful Insights: If something is bugging you about your draft, go in and fix it. Now. Seriously, right now. I don’t care what they say about not revising during a NaNoWriMo event. If whatever has happened is preventing you from moving forward, just go back and put at least a passable bandaid on it — whatever it takes to get you over it and writing forward again. You can stitch it up properly when you edit next month.

How are your Camp NaNoWriMo adventures going? Anything fun to share? Any advice for your fellow campers?

Fiction Blog, Writing Updates

Camp NaNoWriMo, April 2015: Week One Update

baby groot worldWhenever I do update posts, I feel like I always marvel at the quick, fleeting passage of time. But it’s always true. The first week of Camp NaNoWriMo has gone quickly. To catch up on my plan, read this.

On a personal level, I am satisfied with and optimistic about my progress. I have written quite a lot, despite family commitments and working overtime at my day job. However, on an anal, graph-stalking level, I am a little concerned that I will not be able to meet my personal camp goal, and the pressure is on.

Here is how I have done so far:

My Personal Goal: 75,000 — or the finished first draft Desert Child, whichever comes first.

Total Words Written: 13,155

Day 1: 1,082

Day 2: 1,479

Day 3: 0

Day 4: 5,526

Day 5: 1,571

Day 6: 1,460

Day 7: 2,037

Estimated Writing Time: 9.5 hours

The experience so far: With NaNoWriMo last November, I put all this insane pressure on myself. It was my first real attempt to write a novel, and I wanted to prove to myself (and everyone else) that I could do it. I’m not sure if it is the “Camp” part of this event or the fact that this is my second novel, but I feel way more relaxed. I’m not forcing myself to stay at the keyboard or type as quickly as I can. I’m just plodding along at a pace that feels comfortable and stopping when I need to stop. It’s nice.

baby groot plotMotivation: My motivation this week has been staying accountable to my cabin mates. It’s been nice to have people to give updates to, and to receive updates and cheer each other on. I wish “regular” NaNoWriMo had this same structure. You can follow our cabin adventures with #wordcountslayers. (Yeah, we’re legit.)

Another great motivator has been taking photos of my writing mascot, Baby Groot. I feel like I have to write to pose with him, otherwise it is dishonest. So, in a weird way, his adorable-ness has been very motivating. You can follow his adventures on Instagram, Twitter, and/or Facebook, or by using #BabyGrootWrites.

Biggest Triumph: Having fun. Don’t get me wrong — I had a lot of fun writing The Cogsmith’s Daughter. But Desert Child is a whole other animal. It’s wild and untamed. Vague spoiler alerts: I’m actively getting to kill characters; there’s magic; there’s high-action scenes. It’s very refreshing after a more “political” and “dramatic” novel.

Biggest Setback: The first 3,000 words were like pulling teeth. I felt like a peeping Tom spying on my characters from the outskirts of their village. It was like I didn’t belong in their world. However, now that I’m in the groove, we’re all solid.

Helpful Insights: If you are writing your first draft, just let go. Let your characters guide you. Let crazy things happen. Have fun. This doesn’t mean that you don’t follow an outline (if you made one). This doesn’t mean you go rogue. It means you unleash the full extent of your creativity and be the writer bad ass you truly are. You can tone it down with edits later.


I did not do this last NaNoWriMo, but we weren’t as good of friends then, were we, guys? Here’s a tiny excerpt from my writing this week — entirely unedited. It’s actually the opening of Desert Child.

She dead.

I heard it like you hear a landslide. Soft, at first, slow, a single pebble bouncing down a hill. Tap. Tap. Tap. As they came closer and more voices joined them, it grew louder. A cascade of pebbles slipping out from under a boulder; the boulder breaking loose. Taptap. Rumble. Crunch.

When they finally reached the edge of the cliff, I thought the canyon would collapse around us under the force of their cries. I looked up at them from where I stood, ankle deep in the cold stream, used my hands to shield my eyes from the sun. I wanted to see them clearly, see their dirty, tear-stained cheeks bulge above their smiles.

There were ten of them. They stood in a straight line, tiny toes wrapping around the edge of the cliff. I wanted to warn them, to holler at them to back away, lest they slip and join her. But I couldn’t, because at that exact moment, as their high-pitched voices bellowed the news across the canyon, it finally hit me.


How are your Camp NaNoWriMo adventures going? Anything fun to share? Any advice for your fellow campers?