What is Your “Why” for Writing and How Deep Does it Go? Third Step Completed

Step 3 – Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to a power greater than ourselves

Photo: Nvvchar

It’s funny. When I tell people I’m a writer and I have a book published, they get really excited. Most do. Some don’t. But that’s good too. In life, some people will not celebrate your successes, for whatever reasons. Prepare for it, and forgive them.

But the “most” who do get excited, well, they don’t get the whole picture. All they know is that I did something that’s really hard to do and they get excited. It’s even better when they read it and scratch their heads and think, “Wow, that Aaron wrote a book and it doesn’t suck.”

So for most writers, there is some external motivation, some outside stimulus, for us to write. And yes, like I said in my last post, we have a duty to write if we have a story to tell. And yeah, when I write, when I overcome my fear, I am displaying some of my best parts to the world.

But for me, I had to go deeper. I had to know exactly why I was writing. The “why” of writing is something I had to come to terms with if I was going to spend the countless hours making up stories and not being with my family, not sleeping, not watching baseball or the new shows that aren’t streaming for free on Netflix.

Here is more about my “why”:

For me, writing is the hope that life is good, that I am good, and that there is a purpose, a reason, for all of my pain. When I write, I am affirming life’s inherent goodness. This is my sacred, secret dream. When I write a story, I am spitting in the face of doubt, despair, and death.

That is my why.

So I have to believe that since I have been given this desire to create, that I can do it sanely, rationally, and with a heart full of hope.

I need to give up my pre-conceived notions about what it all should look like and let it just be. Write and finish the book I’m working on. Try to get it published or publish it myself. And keep at it.

Because I’ve come too far to give up now. There is a point where you have spent so much time and energy and have spilled so much blood that to quit would be a crime.

When I meet new writers, I ask them if they’ve tried to quit. The newbies look at me and shake their head. The veterans understand. If you can quit, quit. If you can’t, figure out your “why” and follow it until you can’t any more.

Yeah, I’ve written a lot about the third step, but let’s boil it all down to this. Are you willing to commit to working the rest of the steps?

If you’ve committed yourself to finishing the steps, then, well, you’ve turned your life over to something greater than yourself.

Photo: Guadalupe Cervilla

And we can continue on to the fourth step, which is probably my favorite step. It’s the step where you get to do a whole lotta’ writing.

Shackled to God – The Writer’s Commitment to the Universe

Step 3 – Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to a power greater than ourselves

Okay, to recap. The third step is about living as our best selves, giving up on the fantasies of writing, and accepting the reality. Living the dream.

So part of the joy of my online presence is that I get to interview writers, and I started asking people if they could take a pill to remove the desire to write, would they take the pill?

Most said no. Most love writing and wouldn’t give it up.

Me? I’d take the pill because my life would be so much easier if I didn’t have a full-time job I try to cram into the cracks of my other full-time job and the rest of my life. William Faulkner was a mailman before he hit it big and he used to throw away mail so he could write more. Henry Miller was more realistic. He just hung out in Paris and wrote, poor as the lice in his mattress.

But I have to wonder; why was I given this desire to create? Other people don’t have it, but man, I have it in spades. Why?

The fact is, every writer has a unique voice and a unique perspective. Give two writers the same prompt, and you’ll always get wildly different results. Always. Because we are unique.

So if I have the desire to write, then I have a duty to the universe to write my stories. Why else would I want to write?

Yes, I watched way too much TV growing up. I was hurt. I was alone. I ran away into stories, and I began to tell myself stories when I got bored. So I was molded into a writer, but now that I am one, I can’t just quit. Because I have a duty.

I have friend who wrote a wonderful novel about heaven, hell, angels, the whole deal. In her book, she had a moving scene where it showed what happened when people died. As the people died, a dove would come and draw out the song of their life, and that song would join the infinite symphony of the universe.

My stories are my song. I am doomed to write them. Doomed, maybe blessed. Depends on the day. The Sikhs wear a steel bracelet as a symbol for their connection to God. It’s steel because the Sikhs believe they are shackled to God. No way out.

In the same way, as a writer, I am shackled to God.



I have to surrender to my writing, make time for it, make it happen. Because no one can write the stories I can write and that means I have a duty.

At times, it can be a divine form of slavery.

Step 3 Continued: My Best Self

Step 3 – Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to a power greater than ourselves

Photo: Bresson Thomas

I have a hard time with the God idea. I wish I didn’t. Lots and lots of people find amazing solace in the idea of a divine presence with their best interest at heart. For me, though, since I have a hard time with the God idea, and since I get overwhelmed, I’ve really embraced the third step as being me living as my best self.

My best self.

Not the self that whines and hides and runs away. Oh, love that guy. Yeah, chicks dig that guy. Nothing quite so disgusting as a whining escape artist who’s never around. Self-pity. The other day, I heard a woman talk about the brown Jacuzzi. How warm and disgusting it is. I won’t go into detail. You can connect the dots.

Not the self that is better than everyone, who is just so wonderful, he probably doesn’t need a critique group or beta readers. I love it when after writing, I feel like a genius, that I burn with raw creative fire. Generally, I race to my wife and say, “Will you love me when I’m rich and famous?” She always says yes. I think it’s the money part. Fame is like poison for the soul, if you ask me.

My best self.

My best self is the person who I was born to be, the good, kind, caring, selfless fearless person who is ready for any obstacle, who asks for help, who works without complaint, and helps whenever he can. Who is more interested in giving to the universe and serving the world than his own ego and drama.

When I am in the third step, I am striving to be my best self. And I know when I fail and I know when I succeed because my vision of who I am is stuck in my head.

And that’s the thing that trips up a lot of people. You will always fail in trying to be your best self. Hell, if you didn’t, you’d be a Greek-frakking god. We’re human. We will fail probably as much as we’ll succeed. But the trick is to make the commitment and keep working at being your best self.

Because the rewards are not fame and fortune. When I am striving to be my best self, my life falls into place and things work out. I think that’s why the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says that when we get ourselves right spiritually, we straighten out mentally and physically.

But this takes honesty. If I’m not taking care of my family, or my day job, and I’m writing all the time and striving to be my best self, that might at times feel like the right thing to do, but again, it’s about being of service and being selfless. I need to remember that it’s all a balancing act.

And, when you are relationship with other people, they will generally tell you when you’re not being your best self. That kind of honesty is a terror. But it’s also a gift.