Why to write a book by Martha JohnsonI’m working on my third and fourth books simultaneously. One is fiction, a sequel to my first novel. The other is a book about leaders and their stories and challenges when their organizations face crises.

It can be argued that this is not a time when writing a book is a good business model or financial retirement plan. Millions are published each year and their commodity profile makes the exercise of writing a book shrink in the face of the exercise of marketing the book.

Nevertheless, a book establishes a person and helps with branding. In some respects a book is a calling card, a line on the resume that indicates one’s persistence and personal discipline. It’s true that I don’t have a business card anymore — just a copy of a book.

Writing a book also contributes to “The Conversation.” In my case, I have specific comments to make about good government, competent leaders, and coming to terms with our unwieldy world. In fiction, I write about my passion for community, the role of the church in our society and gender. Everyone has saws to twang and the orchestra is better for the individual effort. Yet, writing is mostly and deeply personal.

When I’m not consulting or speaking, I hoard my time so I can write. I am a bit driven about that. My hand specialist says that typing is actually a good thing (thank gawd) for my arthritic fingers. I write wherever I go. My computer is with me on vacation and this paragraph is emerging while I’m on the DC Metro.

Writing books keeps sane. When I am on some idea or story, I tend to beat them to death in my head. Writing forces me to record them, resolve them, and move on. If I didn’t write, I would probably burst  — or talk even faster than I do now — because my internal ideas have such energy for me. I think they are like champagne, waiting to explode out of their container. Writing is a form of release.

But, mostly I write because I love it. I love the first ugly draft of disconnected thoughts. It’s an embarrassment of riches and sludge. Then, my neat-nik side takes over and I start to organize. I love the messiness and then the emerging clarity. It is wild creativity alongside my quest to control – all in one. It’s who I am and it’s wonderful.

-Guest post by Martha Johnson 

Read more from Martha Johnson or purchase her book On My Watch.