Why write fiction?

Reading time: About one minute

This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I explore the question: why write fiction?

Do you have romantic ideas about the life of being a fiction writer? Do you think it’s all rainbows and unicorns?

If I can’t talk you out of these ideas (because I’m not a novelist myself), then I hope you will listen to the words of Matthew Norman, author of four novels.

Writing in the Writer Unboxed blog, he offers a cautionary tale about the pitfalls of his chosen life. His column appears under the headline, “So many decisions.”

He begins by describing his early work as an advertising copywriter and his steadfast decision to avoid climbing corporate ladders so he would have more time to write fiction. Here is how he puts it:

“The trouble with corporate ladders is that there’s often tempting things up there, like more money and prestige and offices with actual doors. I knew myself well enough, though, to know that a more stressful, time-consuming job would slowly and surely cannibalize the energy I needed to focus on the job that mattered most to me: writing novels. To protect the career you want, you may have to undermine—or even sabotage—the one you have.”

Later, he expands, “As a writer, you’ll often work very hard and for a very long time and have very little to show for it. Years may pass between even modest successes, and much of your work and effort will seem as if it’s being launched into a blackhole. But, simply put, you have to keep doing it. That’s the gig.”

Don’t become a novelist expecting either money or success.

Do it because you want to do it and need to do it.

Scroll to Top