Monday, March 19, 2012

Why do you write?


One of the magazines that sits around my family's house is Johns Hopkins University's Imagine.  It's written for academically-minded highschool students. 

The November/December 2009 issue is about "Writing."  It includes a neat little article in which they interview six professional writers.  (not all of them fiction writers)

One of the questions they answer is "Why do you write?".  In paraphrase, here are some of the answers they gave:


1.  Because I am compelled.  I can't help myself. 
2.  Because writing helps me cope with life. 
3.  Because writing is how I make sense of the world. 
4.  Because I enjoy playing with imaginary characters and situations. 
5.  Because I want to tell an exciting story. 
6.  Because writing allows me to earn money with a flexible lifestyle. 
7.  Because writing helps me understand myself. 
8.  Because imaginative creation is fun. 


Many of these, to some extent, are reasons why I write as well.  I felt there was one large omission, however.  What none of them said was this:  "I have something specific to say to the world, and I believe it's worth saying."  And I think that is a very powerful--and even common--reason to write. 


All I know for sure is that if you don't have some terribly compelling reasons to write, you won't keep at it for very long.  It's an important question to investigate. 


Why do you write?  Do you strongly agree or disagree with any of these answers?  What would you add?

17 comments:

  1. Lol! I wish the money one were true. It is probably for some, but I'm still waiting for the pot of gold.
    I write just because I do. I've written ever since I learned how to write, never for any particular reason. Stories flash in my head and I write them. Its like breathing or eating.

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    1. Ha! The "pot o' gold", yes... I found myself thinking it was bordering on a teeny bit irresponsible to tell young people writing was a good way to make money. She was a professional blogger, though. Kind of different from novelists.

      Also, I think I know what you mean. It's sort of as if some people are just *meant* to be teachers or musicians or doctors or...writers. :) And that's just how we are.

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  2. Answers like telling an exciting story or being in love with creating characters and situations are ones I can relate to. I've always being writing something even when I didn't consider becoming a published author. It's just a part of who I am.

    You and Tyler-Rose have both been tagged for the lucky 7 meme. Sorry if you've already been chosen for this.

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    1. Nope, we haven't done this one yet. :D Thanks for the tag!

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  3. That is a very true answer - I want to tell a story and I believe that it is worth telling. :)

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  4. I want to make people think. One of my fave fantasy trilogies made me think about my faith in God at a time when I struggled deeply with it. It wasn't even a Christian or religious novel. That was the moment when I realized I wanted to write stories that let people enjoy a fabulous pretend world while making them think about some of the deeper issues we experience in the 'real' world.

    Great post, lady!

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  5. My reasons were up there from 4 thru 5 :D Interesting post. ~Raine~

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  6. My reasons are many listed, plus I just love the entertainment!! To follow my characters from point A to B and finally C is worth so much to me. It's uplifting, challenging, and fun!!

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    1. I know--no matter how bad my day is going, if I have a plot revelation or think of a great scene, everything looks so much brighter! Then I dance around in joy and whack myself on the furniture by accident...

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  7. I think every writer worth his/her salt will agree with most, if not all, of the answers given. To your point of having something to say, there is a danger that if a novelist writes solely to make a point, the "message" can crowd out the story. People usually read novels for the story, not the message. That's not to say the message isn't important, but if it hurts the story to the extent that no-one wants to read it, then the message gets thrown out with the story. The point of taking medicine with a spoonful of sugar is that people like sugar, so if the sugar is dominant, they won't taste the medicine. If the medicine is too overpowering, they won't take it, regardless of the presence of sugar. I think you get what I'm saying.

    I recall reading somewhere that C.S. Lewis didn't like the fact that the Narnia stories were being hailed as great Christian allegory. He accepted that the stories did indeed contain important lessons regarding the Christian faith, but he was more concerned that they be first and foremost considered good stories.

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    1. Oh, let it not be mistaken: I am very much in favor of good stories for the sake of good stories. VERY MUCH in favor. Though I do think there's a difference between being didactic (yuck) and having ideas/opinions.

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  8. Great post! I agree with pretty much all of these, except for me personally it's not so much #6 because writing has yet to earn me money. I live in hope...

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  9. Nice post. I write because I have these stories in my head and don't know what else to do with them. ;)

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    1. lol. I guess that's what we're all trying to explain in the first place. Why those stories are up there... ;)

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    2. and some of us aren't trying to explain anything, but only trying to get the ghosts to shut up, and the voices to go away.

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  10. That is a great answer. And a question that really made me think.

    Why do I write? I write because I have these stories and voices in my head that are screaming to get out into the world. A part of me writes because I want to reach out to teens and tell them that they're amazing and can do anything (like other writers did for me!) Soooo... i guess I'm smooshing a few answers together! Or that I need to start prepping for a trip to the mental ward...

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  11. I write because sometimes I'm scared that if I don't I'm going to get lost in the crowd. At the end of the day I'm just another young adult who wants to be heard. I just want people to hear what I have to say before they dismiss me as a casualty of my generation. I didn't finish high school, but I got my GED. I've tried and fought for everything I've gotten. My life has been a battle and I don't want anyone thinking any different.

    Sometimes I write because it's the only way for the world to see me for who I am. I hide so well...the thing about writing is that it often reveals more about the writer themselves than the story.

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