At 3: “Why?” At 30: “Why?”

“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.” –Simon Sinek

I’ve seen this idea floating around a lot lately. And I’ve struggled with what it means to me. This quote comes from Sinek’s book Start With Why. Honestly…I haven’t read it yet; I found it in a list of books that Every Creative Person Should Be Reading (this list itself is a brilliant read with quotes from each of the selections). The above mentioned “struggle” could probably have been avoided had I. actually. read. the. book.

This idea of the importance of “why?” applies very poignantly to you as a writer. The “why” of your writing is the root of your audience, your themes, your marketing, and your confidence. Until you’ve answered “why?”, it’s difficult to determine what there is of value to your body of work. What’s staggering is that you can be quite prolific, with a whole three rough-drafted novels to your credit, and still not have a finger on why you’re writing what you’re writing…even why you’re writing in the first place! (my autobiography, here)

But I was finally able to answer “why?” in a very surprising way. 

A fellow local author did a tour on his blog of other local authors by way of personal interviews. It was great fun! The most fun I’d had, really, since holding the physical form of that first edition in my gropey little fingers–like touch was the only way I could absorb it! Anyway. Enough with my tendency toward gropiness. 

An interview makes anyone feel important! Just ask the guy on the nightly news with the southern drawl talking about the tornado. Or the self-published writer.

It is a powerful booster shot of confidence! Not only that, but the questions to which every fan will someday want answers are in that interview. And, in answering, you find yourself pinning down your why’s. Pay attention to the kinds of things that jump to the front of your mind when answering those questions or your fans will know more about you than even you do…or worse, your fans will never know anything about you–because they didn’t care–because you couldn’t figure out what you wanted to say with your writing–because you couldn’t figure out why you were writing–and you simply didn’t know how to get your book in their hands–because you didn’t really know anything about your fans who will now never get to know anything about their potential favorite writer. 

And there is the second part of that quote: “And what you do simply proves what you believe.”

If you’re writing, writing like there is fire in your fingertips and writing is the only way to get relief. Writing prolifically to the tune of three rough-drafted novels and future volumes in sight. If your day job is just motivation to write the next New York Times bestseller. If you’re committing to writing because you hope that sets an example for your children to believe just as strongly in their dreams someday. Then you’re proving what you believe. You’re not so short on confidence after all. You keep doing it because–somewhere–deep down in the honest places of your Self–you believe you are good, you’re getting better, you have potential. 

 Special thanks to Daniel Newcomb who talks about all things sciencey and fictiony over on My Little Corner of the Milky Way. This link goes directly to my interview, but you can easily navigate his other posts from there. Find his books on Amazon

If you’re still trying to answer “why?”, copy and paste the interview in the comments section. Pretend we’re interviewing you and replace my answers with your own along with a link back to your blog. If you’re not an exhibitionist, replicate this exercise in your journal or writing note book. Why? Because what you do is simply what you believe, and it’s time you started believing in YOU!



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