Six Really Good Reasons to Write a Book

As you may already know—from experience or intuition—writing a book is a labor of love. Some days you get the love part, but most days the emphasis is on the labor. At the risk of stating the obvious, it takes many, many hours to write a book. You can expect to spend many days writing, and then polishing, 50,000 or 70,000 or (bless you, writers of genre fiction) 150,000 words. No matter how intimate you are with the content you’re putting on the page—be it your own story, a methodology you use daily with clients, or a tale you’ve been mulling over for years—it still takes time to get the words out of your head and onto the page, in just the right order.

Moreover, even if you are able to step out of “real life” for a couple months and devote the necessary time to your craft (and kudos to you if so—it’s a rare gift), there will almost always be a host of less obvious obstacles waiting in the wings. Resistance, sometimes referred to as writer’s block, is a sneaky adversary. It shows up in innumerable and not always easily recognizable ways. In my experience—both personal and with my clients—writing a book can be a dance with our most tenacious demons.

I’m painting this picture of doom and gloom to make a point: a compelling sense of motivation is the number-one most important ingredient in any book-writing journey. Your motivation is what you will turn back to, over and over, to sustain you through the hard times. I think of it as the fresh spring where you fill your canteen as you’re hiking up a steep mountain. Over the years of running an editorial studio, I’ve talked to hundreds of clients who want to write a book. But only a small fraction of those have gone on to actually publish that book. Why? In most cases the spring of motivation eventually ran dry. It had been strong enough to get them on the phone with me, and perhaps it was strong enough to allow them to begin the writing process. But in the face of obstacle after obstacle—and word after word—it did not turn out to be the renewable resource required.

So as you begin to set your intentions, I encourage you to take a deep and honest look at why you want to write your book. What is compelling you? While there are an infinite number of amazing reasons to write a book, I’ll highlight six of them here. I’ve hand- picked these for one reason: because I’ve seen them work with writers over and over. These are the kind of motivating factors that create results. Do you recognize yourself in one of these? Awesome. Even better if you can truly say you’ve got two or three. The key here is to be completely honest with yourself. Wouldn’t it be better to retool your idea now if doing so would help you claim more of these really good motivators? I promise, the future version of you—the one who’s struggling to get her butt in that chair and write—will thank you.

1. The idea of writing the book excites you. Obviously, this is the first and best reason to put pen to page. Our bodies register enthusiasm more accurately than our minds. You may think you should write a book. But without that upwelling of excited energy in your belly, that feeling of butterflies, that adrenaline rush, this project is destined to be unsustainable. If you’re not excited, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Why? Because you’re not going to endure the long writing trek if the prospect doesn’t fill you with pleasure. So check in with yourself. Close your eyes and imagine holding your finished book in your hands. What do you feel in your body when you picture this? Eagerness, anticipation, maybe even dread? (We’re looking for strong emotion here—for your nervous system to be keyed up in some way. I’m not saying it’s always got a positive story attached.) Or on the other hand, do you feel … very little? If you get a “meh” where you’re expecting an “oh yeah!” that’s a great piece of information. It doesn’t mean all hope is lost, but it does mean you’ve got some self-exploration to do.

2. You want cred. There’s something magical about being able to hand your book to a potential client. Most humans cannot fathom the kind of attentive patience and sheer moxie it takes to pen an entire tome. So the minute you say “I’ve written a book,” you are putting yourself in a category of expertise that looks superhuman to most earthlings. Whatever you want to do from there—get clients for your coaching practice, get your foot in the door with a speaking agency, propose yourself as a guest on local TV and radio—you’re going to have a leg up on 99 percent of humanity.

3. You want to plant seeds for your business. This is one of the most common motives I hear from clients, and it’s one that works a lot of the time! A book can help create financial stability in your business and in your life. Books have this funny way of making it out into the world far beyond where we ourselves could imagine them going. The majority of books are sold via word of mouth, and if your book is touching, well-written, helpful, or just plain entertaining, it is likely to be recommended by your friends, clients, and acquaintances to their friends, clients, and acquaintances. The result is that the word of mouth spreads well outside your established circle, expanding the tribe of people who know about you and your services. (Note: This one works best when your business—be it a coaching business, legal practice, consulting firm, or Etsy shop—is something that truly lights you up. You’re unlikely to find ongoing motivation to write a book to support a business you don’t love.)

4. You’ve always felt like you were supposed to write a book. I hear from clients all the time that they’ve known for 10, 20, or even 40 years that they were “supposed to write a book.” Many of these authors have lived through great difficulty and want to spin their stories of trauma, illness, divorce, or loss into gold for the benefit of others. “If I tell my story,” they often tell me, “maybe my readers won’t have to go through what I’ve been through.” Others have been avid readers of one genre or another, perhaps romance novels or self-help or personal memoir, and they’ve been cooking up their own book for a long time. Whatever the reason, I’ve found that a deep inner knowing can effectively light your path through the dark maze of book writing.

5. You have a big audience ready and waiting for it. I throw this one in knowing it may be hard to hear. Many of the clients I work with are aware that a platform can grant them entry into the world of traditional publishing, and having a substantial one seems like an unreachable goal. Most major publishing companies consider a well-developed (read: really, really big) audience to be the number-one most important quality in a new author. While having a platform doesn’t guarantee you’ll want to write the book, I’ve found that the promise of selling a bunch of copies is an effective motivator for many.

6. You’re already writing it. You are sitting down, on a regular basis, writing words on a page that feel like a book. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. There are millions of competing priorities in our lives, from work to caring for elderly parents to our beloved pastimes. For writing to rise above the fray and present itself, over and over, every single day, as one of your top priorities, is a very good indicator that you’re an author in the making. In case I haven’t yet made the point, the process of writing can be arduous at worst and a pleasurable time-suck at best. If you’re demonstrating the drive to actually write the book, you are the 1 percent. Keep going!

Find out about Kelly's program at Kripalu, The Book You Were Born to Write.

Excerpted with permission from The Book You Were Born to Write, © 2018 by Kelly Notaras.

Kelly Notaras is the founder of kn literary arts, an editorial studio that has helped more than 600 authors write, edit, and market their work.

Full Bio and Programs