Why I Write

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This holiday week, the Inkitt bloggers will be reflecting on why they write. Read on for insight into their personal journeys…

I’m a fiction writer, blogger, and sometime professional nerd. Of all the creative pursuits I’ve embarked upon in my life, I started and ended with fiction writing.

As a preschooler, before I possessed the motor skills to guide pen over page, I dictated my stories to my mom. I used writing to soothe my teenage angst and hid my most melodramatic scribblings in the wall behind my windowsill. After entertaining thoughts of becoming a professional musician, a muralist, and a photographer — and earning a BFA somewhere along the line — here I am. Still writing.

One might question why I still write fiction. I know I have. My blog has enjoyed increasing success over the years and inspired a well-received spinoff book. I’m about to add a new branch to that business that will take considerable work and time. To spend my time finishing a second novel when I haven’t even published the first one yet seems…impractical.

And the writing life is impractical. Fiction writing is emotionally draining, thankless, and rarely pays what all that time and heartbreak is really worth. As I’ve thought lately about my plans for 2019 and my vision for my business, I’ve realized my fiction writing is a moonlight hobby, not a vocation. But that doesn’t make me any less a fiction writer. Even if I never publish a novel, I will keep writing them. It’s just what I do.

My job is to help people. Fiction does that, too.

My business, as it were, is to help adults — mostly women — with ADHD. I inspire introspection, education, and growth. My greatest satisfaction comes when readers tell me I’ve made them feel seen and understood. That I’ve given voice to something they’ve always felt but never been able to articulate, or I’ve empowered them to improve their everyday lives. Fiction can have this power, too. The difference is, we don’t always know it.

Fiction increases our brains’ capacity for empathy. It places us in another identity. Another story. I write about everyday crucibles and tragedies, things that could happen to anyone I know. I also write almost exclusively about women. This feels important, too. I represent real women, complex women, the kind of women I want to know and be. Even if I don’t make a living from it — and I probably never will — my fiction feels important. Like it holds the power to open minds and expand horizons. It doesn’t do it overtly, like my self-help writing, but sometimes enlightenment finds us when we least expect it.

I’ve had to adjust my expectations for myself as a fiction writer.

When I quit my day job almost six years ago, I saw myself as a novelist. Maybe I’d pick up a freelance article here or there, but I was a fiction writer. Aside from a zine I published in high school, my nonfiction writing mostly remained private. I wrote papers for school, of course, but it never occurred to me to write about my life outside my journal. When I wrote for others, I wrote stories.

Over the past several years, I’ve watched my blog take off. Readers write all the time to thank me for sharing my personal experiences. Now that I’ve started planning some exciting non-writing additions to this business for 2019, one thing has become clear: I’m giving myself a day job.

And that’s okay. I love that my blog and writing have made a positive impact on so many lives. I’m excited to do more. Everything I’m choosing to do for my blog business feels authentic and fulfilling. It’s work I want to do.

But it’s not fiction. And as I’ve continued to make time for my fiction, I’ve also had to grapple with where it fits into my life. I’ve had to teach myself that “hobby” is not a dirty word. I’ve written stories my whole life, and I can’t see myself stopping anytime soon. Whether or not I ever write a bestseller, I will keep writing. It’s just what I do.

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About Author

Jaclyn Paul is a fiction writer and blogger based in Baltimore. You might know her from The ADHD Homestead, where she writes about building a good life and a peaceful home with adult ADHD. She's also a staff blogger for INKITT and author of the book Order from Chaos – The Everyday Grind of Staying Organized with Adult ADHD. Her writing has appeared online in Offbeat Families, The Write Life, ADDResources, Better Novel Project, and ADHD Roller Coaster.

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