Why do you write? Why do I write? Why does anybody write?
Funnily enough, I had plans to write a blog post on this topic and then, in that synchronistic way things sometimes happen, I had a coaching session that illuminated it feven more.
So, why do you write? This is a question you’ll often see asked in blog posts or hear in writing workshops. Experts will tell you that you need to know the answer to this as a starting point to your writing practice or career.
In truth, the question used to make me uncomfortable. Probably because I didn’t really know why I wrote. It seems so much a part of me, something I do, most of the time, every day. (Don’t get me wrong–I’m not always that on when it comes to writing fiction, but I am an inveterate journal writer.) So to me, the answer is well, duh, I write because I write.
When I’m uncomfortable, I sometimes sneer. Which is what I always did when the why do you write question came up. And then, I’d ignore it. Which is another thing I do when I’m uncomfortable. Denial is not a river in Egypt but Portland, Oregon.
But lately, I’ve been thinking about it again. What is the difference between the woman I knew long ago who made a feeble stab at writing, but quit as soon as it got hard (Read: rewriting and submitting) and the writer I know now who hasn’t published a thing but continues to improve his craft? Or what about the student I had many years ago who professed that he was only going to keep writing if he could get good at it–and his definition of good meant publication?
Okay, so that last guy clearly had a reason for writing–to get published, and beyond that, show the world how great he was. And he gave up when it didn’t happen. And the woman who quit writing I sort of get–she liked that rush of adrenalin that often comes as you are doing first draft work and losing yourself to the words. But that’s not enough to create a writing career. The writer who keeps writing for the sheer love of it–that’s how I feel, too. I’d be throwing words on the page even if you told me they’d never go beyond my own computer. (Though I’ve learned something about my motivation that goes beyond this–more on that in a second.)
But why? What is this compulsion to write? After many years, I’ve figured out a few reasons:
–Writing helps me figure things out. I am not able to fully know my thoughts on a topic until I’ve written about it.
–Writing helps me make sense of the world. A story has a beginning, middle, and end, and by thinking that way I can order this crazy un-ordered world a bit better.
–Writing helps me know myself, a continual process even at this advanced age.
–Writing is fun. I know people who are aghast at hearing that. But then I know people who think snake massages are fun. (Seriously, check this out.) Or fishing. Or doing oil changes. For me, getting lost in a story world is pure joyous fun.
And there’s one more thing I just realized, thanks to my coaching session with Becca Syme. (It was part of the class she taught that is just finishing up, Write Better Faster.) As a person with a high influencer trait, one of the reasons I write is to have an impact. I’m not that motivated by money, but I am motivated by wanting to inspire people. Weirdly, that is one of those things that I was sort of aware of, but not really.
And here’s the deal: now that I know this, I can use it to motivate me. I can use it to motivate my writing. Boo-yah. As I’ve said a million times before, clarity changes everything. So there you go–the reason why you and to know why you write. Because it can help you feel better about yourself and if you feel better about yourself you’re going to feel better about your writing.
AmIright? I am right.
And, just because I love you all so much, here’s a video of that above-mentioned snake video. You’re welcome.
If you would like help with your writing, I have a couple of suggestions for you. I’m currently accepting one more coaching client this summer. Or, if you’ve got some wanderlust, you could come to France. If you are interested in coaching, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are interested in France, click here for more info.