Insecure Writers Want to Know: Why Do I Write What I Write?

Albert Camus is right that many essays and stories are used to “keep civilization from destroying itself.” Documenting past atrocities is important to keep civilization from repeating the same mistakes. I think science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres can depict the downfall of civilization, too, by showing what would happen if mankind became too aggressive or too obsessive or too cruel. 

By the same token, Flannery O’Conner and many writers “write to discover what [they] know.” Of course the writers then need to revise what they have written to be sure they make a point.

I feel F. Scott Fitzgerald sums up the question of why we write what we write best:

“You don’t write because you want to say something; you write because you’ve got something to say.”

I would like to add to his quote:

That “something” you have to say, needs to matter to the world—both the real world and the world of your story.

Why do I write what I write? I like to create stories to give people courage; courage to stand up for themselves, courage to attempt something difficult, and courage to finally believe in themselves. The theme of courage can be demonstrated in any genre, fiction or nonfiction.

To show courage through story, fiction or memoir, a writer needs to offer readers a fully fleshed out character. Someone the reader can connect to and care about. In my YA fiction, the protagonist is always the underdog, the one who needs to believe in himself enough to stand up to a bully or accept a new situation she can’t change. My protagonists need to accept the challenges that come with every new situation. They need to come to grips with their past to be able to live their present.

In my college memoir, Victoria needs to accept the challenges she can’t change; waiting to begin college until after having a family, and find the courage needed to face a classroom filled with students half her age and deal with her own struggles to learn. She needs to stand up for herself, both in the classroom and at the college, day after day, year after year, until she receives her degree.

With a courage theme, I’m still trying to come up with a title for my college memoir. Would you kindly offer your input on these two suggestions? They state what the story’s about, but I think they’re too long. Any suggestions to tighten them up? 

Power to Believe in Yourself: One Mother’s Journey Through College


The Power to Believe: From Community College to the Ivy League – [The Story Behind] A Mother’s Journey 

Thank you for any assistance you may offer on the title of my college memoir. I’ll be interested to see how you’ve tackled this month’s question. It’s great having a topic to share our thoughts on each month. I am extremely thankful for all of you for being my sounding board and advisors in this writing and publishing journey. 

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This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. We post on the first Wednesday of every month.  To join us, or learn more about the group, click HERE.  


16 thoughts on “Insecure Writers Want to Know: Why Do I Write What I Write?”

  1. I'm not great with titles. Sorry, not sure what to suggest, except that the titles you've chosen may be a bit too long. I write to convince myself that I can create something of value someone else can appreciate too.

  2. Hi Victoria – I only found writing late in life … but enjoy what I do. Your first title is better – the Power to Believe. I write to entertain or educate in some way – starting with myself … then leave it to the reader to comment or not … take care – Hilary

  3. Hi Vic! Great post and I love your explanation of why you write. So much so that I think you should use it in your memoir title. My suggestion: The Power of Courage – One Mother’s Journey Through College.

  4. I think underdogs are popular to read about too, Alex. Thanks for your input on my college memoir titles. It's greatly appreciated.

    Thank you so much for sharing your opinions here at Adventures in Writing. Enjoy your weekend!

  5. I agree the titles are too long, Dawn. A lot of times, non-fiction needs a short, catchy title and then a subtitle to be sure potential readers understand what the story's about.

    Thank you so much for sharing your insight here at Adventures in Writing, Diane. Enjoy your weekend!

  6. Thank you, Hilary, for your input on my college memoir title. It's greatly appreciated. I agree, you must enjoy what you do in writing or it will show in the essay or post. I think you do educate and entertain your readers.

    It's always a pleasure seeing you here at Adventures in Writing. Thanks so much for your note. Enjoy your weekend!

  7. Oh. My. Gosh, Liesbet! Thank you so much for this insight about my college memoir title. The Power of Courage… What do you think about The Courage to Believe?

    I’m going through what I hope is the last revision of the memoir and hope to have it to Beta Readers by the New Year. I know I talk about believing in oneself. I’ll check to see how many times I speak of courage. I think it’s in there.

    I can't thank you enough for sharing your opinions with me here at Adventures in Writing. Thanks so much for your comment. Enjoy your weekend!

  8. If you put “believe” in the title, people will think it’s a religious book… I’m not a fan. Since you mention how important “courage” is in your writing and as a trait, I still like that title better. 🙂

  9. Thank you so much for this explanation. I hadn't thought of that. This is why writers need other writers to talk to. We see things in another's writing that we may not see in our own.

    It's always a pleasure seeing you here at Adventures in Writing. Thanks so much for the clarification. Enjoy your weekend!


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