Why You?

Identifying your why for stronger nonfiction writing (Part 2)

Cassandra C. Stirling

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Image by Anand KZ from Pixabay

We all want to write a book people will read. For fiction authors, the goal is to entertain, enthrall, and occasionally educate. For nonfiction authors, the goal is (usually) to impart some wisdom, help a reader who may be in a similar situation, help the reader improve themselves, or educate.

In Part 1 of this series, the big question to answer is: what is it about this topic that makes your perspective unique? Or in business speak, what is your unique selling proposition? If you haven’t read it, I recommend you go back and do so.

In this part, I’ll cover the second question: why are you writing this book? Knowing what you’re bringing to the table will keep you motivated to not only write the book but also to sell it. Yes, you not only sell the topic when you market the book, but also yourself.

Writing a book is scary. Not only is it a big undertaking requiring many hours of work, but you also have to put it out there for others to read. While writing a manuscript and giving it to an editor, beta reader, friend, or anonymous stranger to read, you’ll most likely face the big writing fear — impostor syndrome.

What is Impostor Syndrome?

Even when you know the content going into your book, you can still question your ability to write it. Most writers, except for those unicorns out there, face impostor syndrome at some (okay, many) points in their careers.

Impostor syndrome can be as small as “I don’t think my grammar is good,” to as large as “my writing sucks,” “I have nothing to say,” “no one will read it,” “who will listen to me,” etc. It also sneaks up on you just when you think you have it foiled and/or just had a big win.

Individuals facing impostor syndrome feel “their achievements are undeserved and worry that they are likely to be exposed as a fraud,” according to a 2011 study by Jaruwan Sakulki and James Alexander entitled “The Imposter Phenomenon,” which is based on Dr. Pauline’s groundbreaking study in 1985 on the topic.

Intellectual fraud is an obstacle many writers I have worked with have faced, even if they have spent their entire careers working in the field in which they are…

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Cassandra C. Stirling

Writer, editor, writing coach, and videogamer. I write about writing, books, and occasionally videogames.