The Only Really Important Question Any Writer Has to Answer

The Only Really Important Question Any Writer Has to Answer

By Frank McKinley

It’s so important, answering it will determine your destiny as a writer.

Yesterday I saw that starting a publication on Medium is a lot easier than I thought.

That’s the mechanical side of the equation.

It’s a lot like publishing a book yourself in the Amazon store. If all you have to do is fill in the blanks, anyone can do this.

Of course, you need an idea.

And you need to answer the most important question any serious writer must answer whenever she gets an idea:


Why do I want to do this?

That leads to other questions that start with the word, “What”?

What will this do for me, my career, and my pocketbook?

That depends on your goals.

It’s one thing if you’re writing for the pure satisfaction of doing so.

It’s quite another if you need to put food on the table, a roof over your head, and clothes on your back.

Let’s dive deeper into the reasons asking yourself WHY is so important.

First, it forces you to focus.

When I tossed around the idea of starting a publication, I was thrilled at the possibilities the idea presented.

Then I pondered,

Okay, so starting a publication is easy. But why do I want to do it? I don’t even have an idea for it . How will it help me profit as a writer? And when will I have time to manage it?

I concluded that now is obviously not the time.

But there’s always later, right?

If I hadn’t asked WHY in that brainstorm, I might have jumped into something I had no business doing.

That leads me to the second reason you should always ask yourself WHY when you get a wild idea.

Second, it provides you with guard rails.

I’m teaching my son to drive.

One of the great things about roads is that some of them are surrounded by metal bars. This is great because if you’re every caught in a rain storm and find yourself hydroplaning off the road, the guardrails keep you from ending up in a ditch or running off a cliff.

Asking WHY can keep you from creating your own disaster.

If I take on a publication when I don’t have the time or resources to manage it, I’m setting myself up for failure.

A little thought ahead of time can save a lot of heartache.

Yesterday, I wrote about our desire to write about everything we know. You can read that post by clicking here.

Asking WHY gives you the focus you need to reach your goals. It keeps you from taking detours and following rabbit trails.

Without your WHY you are essentially driving without a destination.

Now I’m going to ask you to take a dare.

Some of you shared your WHYs with me a few days ago. If you haven’t, I want you to write your WHY in the responses.

Why is this so important?

Because when you write it down and share it, you ask others to hold you accountable.

And on the marketing side of things, it’s a great way to define your brand.

Here’s a framework for you.

My name is ______,, and I believe every_____(people group) should ______(do or have something desirable).

This is your vision for the world.

How will you serve mankind? What will your words inspire people to do?

What tools will your WHY lead you to create?

What ideas will it generate for you to write about?

The third and maybe most powerful reason to ask yourself WHY is accountability.

When you make a promise in public, you feel obligated to live by that promise.

And that’s a good thing.

When people know what to expect from you, they’ll follow you.

They’ll trust you.

And eventually, they’ll buy from you.

Friends, that is where the money is.

Be sure your WHY is always before you. Then whenever an idea pops into your head and demands your consideration, you’ll be safe.