Writers know there are many benefits to writing. The act of regularly shaping our thoughts, ideas, and creativity into written sentences transforms how we see the world, how we listen to conversations, even how we relate to our friends and family. Numerous studies have demonstrated that a regular writing practice can improve our lives – psychologically, emotionally, spiritually, and even physically. Among other things, writing can:
- Help clarify your thinking about complex issues
- Give you perspective on your own life
- Let you think from other’s perspective (your characters, your audience)
- Develop a habit of generating new ideas
- Lower stress and increase resilience
- Make you better at writing
What’s interesting, though, is that despite these benefits, hardly anyone says “I write for my health.” In fact, answering the question “Why do you write?” can leave many writers fumbling to express their motivations.
“I dunno. I just like it.”
Or perhaps, “I write because I have stories in my head.”
Neither response really gets to the heart of why we write. In other words, What’s your purpose in writing?
Sidestepping any metaphysical implications, getting clear on why you write is a worthwhile task. Having a purpose in mind (even if it’s only one of many) can help focus your efforts and provide clarity about what you want to get from your practice.
Understanding the why of writing can even improve the writing itself. Just as an archer needs to see her target to know how hard to pull the bow and at what angle to aim her arrow, so writing with a clear purpose will be sharper and more directed. Knowing why you write can also serve as encouragement on those dull days when getting to the page is tough.
At FriesenPress we try hard to understand what motivated each author to write their book. As part of our goals and vision assessment we ask authors about their purpose and goals for their book. This is useful for creating focused design and marketing strategies, but it’s also good to know before a book is even complete.
So we’d like to know: Why do you write? What makes you sit down at your computer or notebook and build those sentences? Is it creative expression? The need to connect? To educate? To sell? To inspire? Or perhaps, like Dorothy Parker, you hate writing but love having written.
Please drop us a short note at email@example.com and let us know why YOU write. We’ll feature a few of your answers in our next newsletter.
In the meantime, I encourage you to consider why you write. Getting clear about what motivates you can revitalize your craft.
Contest: tell us your favorite publishing memory!
Thanks to everyone who sent us their photos last month (and congrats to lucky winner Barry Ruhl)!
This issue, we want to hear about your favorite publishing memories. There’s no telling where your book will take you – paint us a picture of your most memorable publishing experience(s) and we’ll award three of our favorite entrants a $50 FriesenPress credit.
Be creative! Send your stories (max. 250 words) to firstname.lastname@example.org before September 30, 2016 to enter!
- Only three entries per person will be accepted.
- Credit is non-transferable, non-refundable, and is not redeemable for cash or other prizes. Must be accepted as awarded.
- The Author agrees to permit FriesenPress to publish their submission and name without further compensation, in any publicity carried out by FriesenPress.
- The Author releases FriesenPress, as well as their advertising and promotional agencies, from liability for any damage or prejudice arising from the use of the submitted material and out of the awarding and use of the winning credit.
Team Member Spotlight
Astra Crompton is a multi-platform creative, with a focus on fiction, comic books, and costuming. She has published seven books, as well as been featured in anthologies and magazines. She's also a FriesenPress Author Account Manager.
Hometown: Victoria, born and bred.
What inspires you to create?
Everything! The world is full of wonder, from the diversity of culture to the bizarre bounty of nature. I love to play with languages, maps, cuisine, fashion...and all of these coalesce in my writing. I especially love to examine cultural expectations, playing with different social mores and ways societies can be constructed.
Best part of your day?
When I'm able to sit down in my big comfy chair and create, whether that's drawing the next page of my comic or editing the next chapter of my novel, or stitching the next piece of one of my costumes. I usually have some music or Netflix on in the background to stimulate all of my creative senses. I always sleep best after I've been able to create something.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of your role here at FriesenPress?
The constant inspiration. Every author brings something unique to their book, including life experiences, courage to overcome trauma, travel to exotic places, creative new concepts, or expert knowledge in niche subjects. It's wonderful to see what inspires others, what drives them to create. It keeps me looking at the world from different angles. Keeping perspective on life is very important to me.
What’s the best book you’ve read this year?
So far, Jane Austen's England by Roy & Lesley Adkins. While I usually read fiction, it's fascinating to learn about different times and places. This book takes a very holistic view of life in the Regency era covering a wide array of topics. Because I've been reading and working in Regency for much of this year, it's given me lots in insight and ideas.
What are some memorable books you’ve helped to publish?
Here are five of my favourites:
- British Columbia ~ Graced by Nature's Palette by Frank Townsley. It's a beautiful book of the author's photography and hyper-realistic paintings, but also gives a lot of great information about the province, flora, and fauna. It's stunning!
- Empowered Body by Michele Theoret. This is a very slick yoga book, with lots of photos to inform as well as instruct. Here the author showcases the exercises, treatments, and whole body practices she teaches in her studio.
- The Pelican Motel by Penny Gumbert. This award-winning writer offers a unique collection of a novella with subsequent short stories to further explore the themes. Sharply written fiction with quirky characters, these tales illustrate the nuances of the human condition.
- Signs of (a) Life by Liam Samolis. This memoir is hysterically funny, written with the author's whip-cracking humour and creative turns of phrase. If you (like me) enjoy the dry British stylings of Monty Python and the madcap hilarity of Douglas Adams, this author is sure to please.
- When Dinosaurs Go Dancing by Judy Cook. This is a beautiful children's book marrying ballroom dance with dinosaurs. The author even has a CD of her original music that accompanies the perfect rhymes and glorious artwork. She's won a number of awards and accolades and deserves every one.
If you could go back in time and give younger Astra some advice about writing, what would you tell her?
The most important lesson I've learned: don't be afraid to make it better. It's easy to bask in the glow of completing a project, but this is just the first draft. Get feedback, do research, delve deeper. Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty, re-write things from a different angle, move story pieces around, cut content if it doesn't serve the story (no matter how beautifully written). It really will improve the storytelling. Trust me.
From the President’s Desk
This month at our annual summer party at my house, we said goodbye to “mama” with sadness in our hearts. Aurelia has been our Office Manager and resident mama for 5 years and has contributed significantly to the culture we have here at FriesenPress, taking such good care of all of us. She’s won a permanent spot in my heart and deep gratitude for her presence over the years. We love you, Aurelia!
I’ve been busy here working on new partnerships and developing great new products that will help our authors be even more successful. I’m excited to give you a sneak peek into one such partnership that is launching this fall: we’ve joined forces with a major book marketing agency. This partnership allows us to offer our authors a great variety of publicity services. Publicity has been one of the top requests from our authors, and proven publicists that are accepting new clients are hard to find. So we did that footwork for you! Keep your eyes peeled for the official launch.
Finally, I continue to connect with traditional publishers, looking to build relationships that flow in both directions. For authors who don’t fit their program, publishers can refer them to FriesenPress and equally important, we are able to introduce them to some of our authors who may fit their program and have a proven sales track record. Recently, I was invited by the Book Publishers Association of Alberta to speak to members at their annual conference about what FriesenPress does and how we can build our relationship. I look forward to the opportunity to continue to share my thoughts around how self-publishing is evolving into an industry that produces beautiful, high quality books while championing the belief that all writers should have an opportunity to tell their story. I look forward to this event on September 16 and to attending their book awards gala that evening. Good luck to all the shortlisted entrants!
Each issue we’ll present an exercise or prompt aimed at getting you writing and building your skills. This month’s pump-up is called Time Trial!
Set your timer for ten minutes and write about why you write. Begin with the phrase “I write because…” or “I write so that I can…” Don’t edit or worry about punctuation and grammar. Write as fast as you can, describing what it is you like about writing, what experience you want your readers to have, what you envision as a perfect writing lifestyle for you.