Writing a book is a big time commitment, which may never pay off. Even if you complete it, it may never be published. Thirty pages into what would become my first completed manuscript, I wrote down some of the reasons why I write. Maybe these will give you motivation.
Writing is excellent mental exercise. Reading allows the mind to be engaged in a story while reminding it of correct language; to analyze the characters and interpret the plot. Writing engages my mind in its own story. It challenges me to find the right words and develop a coherent plotline. I told myself early on that even if my book was never published—even if I wasn’t pleased with the quality enough myself to submit it to anyone—I would achieve something special by having completed it and would not have wasted any of my time.
At other times, writing has helped me process personal feelings and situations. Long before that first completed manuscript, I wrote in journal form or way-too-close-to-me-fiction. I knew I could never publish those projects, but I don’t regret starting them. My heroine could make the necessary changes before I was ready to make them myself.
There are other reasons why I want to write—and publish—specifically middle grade fiction. Middle schoolers are at a critical age. This transitional time can be so tough for kids. I want my books to give them joy. I want to inspire them to be kind, compassionate, and resilient. I want them to have hope that change is possible—on a personal and a societal level. I want kids who face a tough situation to think about how they can someday rise above it—even if it’s not in their power just yet. I want them to take control of their own happiness. I want them to love life.
Many writers are inspired by other great books. My recent MG favorites include The Benefits Of Being An Octopus by Ann Braden, Jason Reynolds’ Ghost, Sofiya Pasternack’s Anya And The Dragon, and Matthew Ross Smith’s forthcoming The Million Dollar Race. Outside of middle grade, I also loved Dreamstrider by Lindsay Smith, Becky Monson’s Just a . . . series, and everything by Jane Austen.
This post would be lacking if it didn’t mention my biggest motivator in finishing that first manuscript. Last November, I broke my foot and ankle. As a horse trainer, I couldn’t work from the couch. Honestly, I’m not sure if or when I would have finished my first book if I hadn’t been sentenced to months of rest. During that time, writing helped me tremendously. It challenged me and made me feel productive, when it would’ve been easy to wallow in self-pity in front of the TV. After I finished manuscript #1, writing #2 and #3 was much easier. MS #1 is shelved for now, but it taught me so much—most importantly, that I could do it. I could write a complete, coherent book. Maybe someday I’ll revisit it now that I know what I’m doing. But I’m really excited for MS #2 and #3 to make it out into the world!
So if you’re having trouble finishing your first book—break a leg??