Writing a book: Why are you doing this?

Aug 5, 2014 | Writing A Book

It promised to be a wonderful dinner party. As we moved to the table, our hostess whispered to me, “I seated you next to Johnny because he wants to write a book.”

Why do you want to write a book?

Johnny would turn out to be a delightful conversational partner. As we sat down, I introduced myself to him and said, “I hear you want to write a book. Why?”

Johnny had a good answer for that question. He’d recently sold his farm and he was interested in starting a small consulting business. He thought a book would help promote the business.

I agreed. Later this week Johnny and I will get on the phone for an Options Review Session to help him think the project through. We can do that because he’s already answered that all-important first question: “Why do you want to write a book?”

There are lots of right answers to the question

Your answer to the “Why?” question is personal. There are no right answers. Here are some of the answers I’ve heard when I asked that question over the last couple of years.

  • Leave a record of my life for my family.
  • Tell the true facts about a scandal.
  • Increase my speaking and consulting fees.
  • Increase my visibility.
  • Cross “Write a book” off my bucket list.
  • Help young people live a more abundant life.
  • Expose corporate wrongdoing.
  • Help managers work effectively in a matrix environment.
  • Promote my business.
  • Have a credential.

Any one of those answers (and dozens of others) can help you write a great book.

The “Why?” question is the first question

The reason that the “Why?” question is so important is that it determines the answer to an array of other questions. If you know the answer you can proceed to the “4 questions you should answer before you write a word.”

But if you don’t know the answer to the “Why?” question, you can’t answer those four questions effectively. You won’t be able to make wise choices about publishing or promotion or what to do with the proceeds of your book, either.

Time for a reality check

Writing a book can be a rewarding experience in many ways, but it’s a lot of hard work, too. Before you commit to the time and the work, make sure you know why.