Why Readers Read, Why Writers Write

Why Readers Read

ReadA few years ago I took April Kihlstrom’s Book in a Week online course.  As part of the prep work, April has writers explore WHY we want to write a specific project.  What about the project is important, what message do we want to communicate, and to whom? In order to answer that question, the first step was to explore why readers read.  Here is a short list of why I read:

Escape – Sometimes I just want to be swept away to another time or place in the hands of a capable author with fully realized characters and setting. Over the years this has become my best form of therapy during stressful times.

Read a powerful love story – Going back to my number one reason of escape during stressful times, nothing warms my soul and puts me in a happy place more so than watching a couple fall in love.

FEEL something intensely – Watching others solve their problems, compromise, explore their humanity, go on an adventure, avert danger, and yes – fall love is highly cleansing. This emotional catharsis takes me away from my own struggles for a moment.

Why Writers Write

WritingJoanna’s post last week helped me own my guilt, but it also had me question (louder than I have before) WHY I write. Are the rewards worth the sacrifices (see: Author Ass, Sleep Deprivation, Dirty House, and Neglected Family). Then it occurred to me I need to write as much as I need to read and for the same reasons. In the last few weeks, I’ve been mulling over things about my writing career specifically in regard to Marketing approach and Brand (a buzz word that truly pisses me off – another topic for another day), but I’ve been distracted, unable to focus on these topics because my family is going through a difficult time right now.  At the height of stress the number one thought that runs through my mind right after “I want my mommy!” is “I NEED to escape into a good book.” Thanks to my little, Divergent is sitting on my end table. I’ve seen it beside my keyboard. I have found it on top of my cookbook during meal prep, and on top of the dryer while dong the wash. Think she’s trying to tell me something? My girl seems to know I need this escape. What better place than a YA Dystopian world?

And yet, while reading a great escape book right now sounds like heaven, I want to WRITE. I want to ESCAPE into a new world of my own creation. During these difficult times, I’m putting my ideas on simmer, just waiting for the right moment to dive in.  Of course the goal is to Create a Powerful Love Story and in the process to Feel Something Intensely. I have never written a story that didn’t make me laugh out loud in parts and reach for a tissue in others.

Why This Author Writes

With all this in mind, I have stumbled upon the answers to why I write. Of course it would be great to have a runaway hit, sell tons of books and lessen the financial burden at home, but I think the main reason I write is for the Readers. That wasn’t always the case. Until I connected with a beta reader I had no real hope that I’d ever write for an audience. But now that I’m exploring things like BRAND (poke me in the eye now, PLEASE!) this is what I have stumbled upon. It is my goal when writing a story to help my readers ESCAPE their lives for a moment, to put their trust in me as the author to Create a Powerful Love Story so that they may Feel Something Intensely. All around, I write for the same reasons I read.

While I mull over the strides this post has helped me take in regards to my “brand,” I’m curious to know…why do you read? Why do you write?

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32 Comments

  1. Thanks for the thoughtful post. I write as therapy and hope that some of what I work out for myself in my stories will help one (or more) of my readers. Creating laughter is part of that process.

    Reply
    • RoseAnn DeFranco

       /  March 31, 2014

      Hi Ashantay! So true! There is nothing more healing than laughter.

      Thank you for your comment! 🙂

      Reply
  2. Jenna Blue

     /  March 31, 2014

    Wonderful post, RoseAnn! Like you, it’s the best form of escape and relaxation there is. And there’s something healing about a happy ending, all nice and tight and condensed into a book. Movies are good too, but books are quiet and portable and easier to drown out the rest of the world because your imagination is so engaged.
    I laugh at your little leaving divergent everywhere (with us it was The Fault in Our Stars) but I will warn you I’m not sure that YA Dystopian is going to have the feel good happy thing you are looking for!
    Hugs to you–and just keep doing what you need to. Those ideas are going to burst out when the time is right and be all that much more flavorful for the simmering!

    Reply
    • RoseAnn DeFranco

       /  March 31, 2014

      I love how you phrased that…books are quiet and portable. They are very intimate, aren’t they? Sometimes any world, whether happy or no, become a welcome distraction. Yep, my Upstate NY series is gonna be aged and seasoned to perfection. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Diana Quincy

     /  March 31, 2014

    Hi RoseAnn – I write for me. It’s one area where I am completely selfish. Writing is a passion I discovered just in the past few years and I can’t remember what I used to do with my time before that! When I get into the writing zone, I’m lulled into a sense of peacefulness and purpose that I find incredibly soothing. I also do love escaping into a world of my own making although sometimes creating that world can be very frustrating (ie: writer’s block!).

    Reply
    • RoseAnn DeFranco

       /  March 31, 2014

      Hi Diana – I can’t imagine you with writer’s block! Great that you are immersing yourself in your passion. That sense of peacefulness you describe…I would guess every writer reaches that. I believe that is part of the escape factor for me. It is only when I come up for air that I start to think about things like my Author’s Ass and my messy house! 🙂

      Reply
  4. Very thought-provoking, RoseAnn! I write because I’m in a bad mood when I don’t. That’s stripping it down to basics, of course. I write because I’m a control freak and I like to create a world where I am all-powerful. I write because I love to play with words. I write because I love to read. It’s an addiction I think I was born with and I just can’t shake it. LOL!

    Reply
    • RoseAnn DeFranco

       /  March 31, 2014

      Thank you for your comment, Nancy! May I congratulate you here on the Violet Femmes for your recent, and well deserved, RITA Nod? Well…there…I just did!

      I now have a mental image of you rubbing your hands over the keyboard as the all-powerful creator. I also believe that writing is an addiction. Even during these stressful times, thoughts of NOT writing are laughable. Even when I’m not writing, I’m preparing to write. The subconscious mind is always at work.

      Reply
  5. Wonderful post, RoseAnn! I have done the same soul searching as you. I had to laugh at “Author Ass.” It is SO hard to find time to exercise with writing. And if I didn’t write, I could exercise all the time and have a great ass!! Wow!! But then it’s like, really? Where is the meaning in a great ass?! Yeah… that would be a little hollow for me. I write for different reasons and the whole brand thing kind of reflects that, since I’ve now decided I’m three people. Yeah… I’m creating a third, unlinked identity for erotic romance. So, I write for meaning, I write laughs, and I write for fun. My different pen names reflect that. I read for the same reasons. And the overall reason for all “brands” and all writing, is connection with other people. We are creative people so “brand” is dicey for us. I’ve sorted it out for myself in that way, but still, it’s never going to be one thing even within one of those names. As for marketing, I like it if it happens as an extension of my desire to connect with people. Beyond that, it gets pretty hard, but I just try to stay in touch through social media and connect and then do the occasional blast for special promo.

    Reply
    • RoseAnn DeFranco

       /  March 31, 2014

      Nia, thank you for stopping by and for your thoughtful comment. I LOVE, beyond love, your thoughts on Author’s Ass. You have helped me find meaning to my AA. I’m going to OWN that sucker!

      Truth in regards to BRAND? I’m confident that I know what my “Brand” is. I am just not ready to announce it. Do I need to? Also, not really sure that I’m all that well positioned to expand on it. In a nutshell, my brand is very much woven into this post and other posts I’ve recently put up on my own blog, thoughts I’m sharing on my FB Author Page. Making that interesting from a marketing perspective, finding the right outlets with an audience…that is the challenge!

      Reply
  6. When a character pops into my mind, and my feelings of empathy for his or her situation are strong enough then I know I have a story. I write to explore the HEA that I want that character to obtain. Or to see justice served. I love the old saying of true love never does run smooth, and in my stories I stick to that. Nothing easy for the H/H because after they surmount their initial difficulties they’ll commit and be able to overcome anything life throws at them, as a team.
    I read for pleasure, entertainment, to explore cultures I know little about. I love being swept away by words on the page.

    Reply
    • RoseAnn DeFranco

       /  March 31, 2014

      I love this response, Robena. It really gives me a bit of insight into your approach. My reading and writing experiences are very connected. I like that you are able to separate the two. Thank you for stopping by and for the comment! 🙂

      Reply
  7. I write because reality sucks. Okay, it doesn’t always suck, but sometimes I’d just really like to run someone through with a sword, and I can only do that on the page. Reading is my escape too. And both are my way of figuring out how people and the world works, how problems get solved, why people form the bonds they form. Why those bonds do or don’t work out. I don’t always like going out into the real world with real people for those things lol
    Great post, RoseAnn! Glad you’re finding your way through the branding/marketing/promo slog-fest!

    Reply
  8. RoseAnn DeFranco

     /  March 31, 2014

    Gretchen! I love the image you create with your sword! I’ve been in a mood lately of wanting to take everyone down…no one is safe, and trust me, in my new series, they aren’t! No, I’m not switching to Romantic Suspense. Laughter can be a wonderful form of therapy, and when the joke is at someone else’s expense, it can also be a means of revenge!

    Thank you for stopping by and for leaving a comment.

    Reply
  9. Great post Rose Ann! I read when I need to escape. There’s nothing better for me than reading late at night when the house is quite and the kids are asleep. It’s calming and soothing. As for writing, I write because it’s my passion. I have stories in my head and they need to be written. I also write for the readers. I often get emails from readers about secondary characters in a book. They want to know what happens to them and if they obtain their happily ever after. This sparks more story ideas and inspires me to write.

    Reply
    • RoseAnn DeFranco

       /  April 1, 2014

      Hi Tina. I think that is why I stumbled upon writing for the readers as well. Of course it is my passion, my addiction, my emotional outlet, but I also hear from readers who have taken an interest in secondary characters and the town of Audubon Springs which sparks ideas and inspiration as well.

      Reply
  10. Jaye Marie Rome

     /  April 1, 2014

    What a great, thought-provoking post, RoseAnn. You can bet I’ll be really thinking about why I write in the next few days. The first thought that comes to mind is that I write to let all these characters and their stories get out of my head and onto the page. Maybe it’s my theatre background, but my writing always starts with character. Their stories become clearer once I really flesh out who they are and what they need, and that drives the plot.

    Thanks for kicking my brain into high gear!

    Jaye

    Reply
    • RoseAnn DeFranco

       /  April 1, 2014

      Glad to help stimulate thought. Joanna’s post last week prompted my thoughts on the topic. I am also a very Character driven story. I agree that it goes hand in hand with the theatre background. Can’t wait to hear what you come up with after you mull it all over! 🙂

      Reply
  11. jomcarroll

     /  April 1, 2014

    Yes, yes, yes – if writers want to be read, then they must attend to their work as readers with the same enthusiasm as when they are intent on writing.

    Reply
    • RoseAnn DeFranco

       /  April 1, 2014

      Thank you for stopping by and for your comment!

      Reply
  12. Cynthia Harrison

     /  April 1, 2014

    RoseAnn, I have always been a reader. As an introvert, it’s a great way to escape the pressures of living a social life where I have to communicate with people and do stuff. I think now that I write novels, too, the body/mind connection for me has been all but lost. I am almost always in my mind, so I get the AA as well. I feel surprised by my real house, or doing real things. It’s like I’m uneasy in actual world so I need to escape to other ones. I have always written, but personal writing that helped me figure out my place in the world. Now that I write novels, it’s again cerebral, and a sort of challenge to myself. Can I write something that would entertain others? Will my friends finally forgive me for being so unavailable so often if they read my book and like it? I think it’s a bit of a problem for me, actually. I need balance with my body. Especially now that there is the brain candy of social media where I can write MORE. lol.

    Reply
  13. RoseAnn DeFranco

     /  April 1, 2014

    Hi Cynthia, you have a bad case of Writing Addiction. I would say we should start a support group but no one here wants to give it up.

    I love how you phrased that…you feel surprised by your real house. My office is downstairs in our finished basement. I can’t tell you how many times I have emerged from the cave with the elixir in hand (sorry, bad hero’s journey reference…could not help myself) to discover my kitchen is a mess and school papers for the little need to be signed for the next day. There I stand triumphant, yet need to snap on the dish gloves and get to work before calling it a night!

    Thanks so much for your comment and for stopping by. I’m really enjoying this discussion.

    Reply
  14. Great post, RoseAnn. I am an AVID reader so it was interesting to read this post!!! Just wish I had time for it now that I’m writing like a crazy woman! Best, Michele

    Reply
    • RoseAnn DeFranco

       /  April 1, 2014

      I hear you, Michele! Often times when I’m super busy, I feel like I NEED to read, just hard to find the time. When you get there It will be that much more enjoyable!

      Thanks for coming up for air for a few moments!

      Reply
  15. Lori

     /  April 1, 2014

    Hi RoseAnn,

    I’m probably the only one with this answer. I write because I’m lonely. I have no friends and never really did so the stories I made up kept me busy when reading wasn’t available at the moment.

    Lori

    Reply
    • RoseAnn DeFranco

       /  April 1, 2014

      Hi Lori,

      Thank you for dropping in. I will let you in on a secret…you are not alone in that. I do believe that was a part of why I first became an active reader and then writer. Regardless of how it happened, I am glad that you are here among us now. Please don’t ever feel alone again.

      RoseAnn

      Reply
  16. I loved reading this post Rose Ann! I “write”, because I love thinking outside the box and sharing new therapy ideas that make learning fun for the children I work with. It’s my creative outlet, my way of expressing my originality, my way of reaching out to others and impacting their lives in positive way.

    I think as kids we thrived on approval, encouragement and inspiration from our parents or that amazing teacher or coach . As adults we still seek this. Reading, and especially writing, are places where we can experience these feelings again. Nothing feels better than having “fans” provide us with positive feedback, which inspires and encourages us to keep writing and creating.

    And I know my family doesn’t always take too much interest in my blogging world, but maybe I like it that way…..it’s my special place to escape and I like keeping it to myself!

    Reply
    • RoseAnn DeFranco

       /  April 1, 2014

      Rose Ann, Thank you for joining the discussion! The enthusiasm you have for working with kids and your creativity amaze me. I find it interesting that, while it is a different field and a different form of writing, the outlet and escape are very similar. I love what you said about children and the importance of the formative years. It echoes the teaching of Michael Hauge in regards to the “wound” of a character that is formed early in life. This wound is an integral part of the makeup of our characters in fiction.

      I hear what you are saying about the personal nature of blogging!

      Thanks again for your comment and stopping by!

      Reply
  17. Hi RoseAnn. Like you and many of the others who commented, I read for escape. Why I write is to keep me sane. What I write is for my readers. I want to pull a reader into the world of characters I created and make them feel and yearn…and dream.

    Reply
    • RoseAnn DeFranco

       /  April 4, 2014

      Hi Maria…yes…to keep sane! Good one. I just realized another reason I didn’t touch upon as to why I became such a voracious reader and then writer. When I transitioned out of the Theatre world, I needed an outlet for the creative energy and found it in the written word. I think that falls under the category of keeping sane. It was much easier to let go of my past creative dream once I started to embrace a new one!

      Reply
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