Why I Write: A Brief Reflection
A brief reflection about why I write, why I wrote in the past, and how my reasons have changed over the years.
When I asked the writers of Twitter’s Writing Community why they write, I received over sixty responses, and each was different.
There were some similarities. But there were a whole heck of a lot of differences, too, from the people who said they wrote for fortune to the people who said writing was a form of therapy for them. By the way, you should read each and every one of those responses — and connect with the writers behind them.
I also had a number of writers tell me they didn’t know why exactly they wrote — they couldn’t pin it down. And, to be honest, I fell into the same boat. But reading through all the reasons has helped me figure out some of the reasons why I write. I’m going to talk about three separate reasons in this article.
But, first, I want to say a word about how my reasons have changed as I’ve gotten older, wiser, and better at writing. For one, when I started out writing, I didn’t think too much about making money for writing. But now, and especially after realizing that I could make a lot of money writing copy, I do intend to make money writing. I hope to make enough money writing that I can blog and write full-time. I wouldn’t say this is one of the main reasons I write, but it exists, and I wanted to put it out there. Because I didn’t want those people who said they write for money to feel alone, because they’re not alone. A lot of us write partially for money, although the joy of writing exists at the base (at least for me).
Without further ado, let’s dig into some more reasons why I write.
1. I write because I love to write, and because I feel compelled to write.
Yeah, this is kind of dumb to say. But I love to write. Something about the act of writing gets me going like nothing else. It stimulates my mind. I think it’s because there’s no limit to good writing. You can write good writing, and you can write better writing, and your writing will continue to get better if you push yourself. I’m the type of person who looks for continual improvement, and continual improvement is something that is very evident in writing.
I also love the feeling of putting words down and getting them right. For me, it’s like hitting a high when I write a really good poem or a really great paragraph. It’s an addictive rush.
I also feel compelled to write. Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night with the urge to write. Maybe this isn’t healthy. But it’s how I’ve been for almost as long as I can remember. When that urge hits me, I don’t deny it. Because the consequences are bad. I’ve learned that over time. When I don’t write, my dreams are the first things that go haywire. I already dream a lot while writing, but I start dreaming even more — and even more vividly — when I don’t write. And all that dreaming means I don’t sleep. And when I don’t sleep, things get ugly fast. So if the itch hits me around midnight, I write down the words and then go back to sleep.
2. I write to process and feel emotions.
I don’t want to admit that this is a major reason why I write, but it is. I’m not a very emotional person, but I can be very emotional in writing. Especially in poetry, as most who have read any of my poems probably know. I hate sharing my emotions, thinking about my emotions, feeling at all controlled by emotions, and being vulnerable. At the same time, I recognize that I have some emotions buried deep down that can get to me if I let them linger long enough, so I write to process them and to feel, really feel, what some other people allow themselves to feel in their day-to-day existence.
3. I write to keep myself from going crazy.
No, this is not going to make sense to everyone. But I started writing at around the time it became no longer acceptable for me to play make-believe for large parts of the day. You know, talk to myself and talk to my plastic animals and Lego people, which I’d previously spent hours doing. (I may or may not be known to still do it on occasion.) I thoroughly believe that if I had not found an outlet for my excess imagination, it would’ve turned inward and driven me crazy. I think this especially after the experiences of my late teens, which confirmed what I’d already known — that I don’t have the most stable of minds. I won’t say that I would’ve descended into full-blown psychosis without writing, but it is a string that ties me to earth. And it’s an outlet for all the strange thoughts I might otherwise turn inward or outward on the world. I can write them. I don’t have to act on them.
Writing this post has been an exercise in vulnerability.
Which I hate. (Back to point 2.) I know that a lot of what I’ve written makes me sound crazy, which is why I haven’t written it before. But these are the reasons why I write. There are others that I haven’t mentioned. The characters do speak to me. They make me keep writing a project once I’ve started. And I have an overarching message that I want to convey with my life, and I’ve decided writing is a good way to do it. But the three reasons I listed above are the main ones in my mind. Combining the three together, they create a need to write. You can call it a compulsion or addiction if you like. I prefer to call it a support. Writing is my life support. It’s how I maintain a functional existence.
I do hope you’ve enjoyed reading about why I write. You can talk to me about how crazy I am in the comments. Or about how crazy you are! I know from reading the responses of the Writing Community that my experience isn’t unique, which is part of the reason why I felt comfortable sharing it. Tell me anything.
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