Write it now, part 2: do you write because you have to?

Welcome to part 2 of this series on the A-Z of writing. In these initial posts I’m exploring the foundations of the art – what writing’s about (emotion), why we write, and what’s needed to learn about it. In a few weeks I’ll be moving on to some of the tips and tricks that writers use – some how-to posts, and a lot more.

sleeping-man-with-newspapers-mdToday – why do writers write? It’s not an idle question. Do writers write because they’ve chosen it as a hobby – a pastime, or entertainment? Or something more serious?  I figure there will be as many answers to this question as there are people who write.

To me, writing is about doing. It is more than a pastime, though I do pass the time with it – and enjoy doing so. And for most people who write, I think, it is the doing that counts. Writing – practising, learning, doing – is the priority. Committed writers push at it, barrel out text, push projects to completion – make it happen. They will keep pushing – looking for agents, looking for publishers. Some even make a living from it – if they’re lucky.

They write because they have to.

I think that applies to most writers who make a career of it, whether they write fiction or non-fiction, whether they freelance as journalists or focus on books.

The pertinent question is why. Why is writing a compulsion?

Personally I don’t identify myself as ‘a historian’ or ‘a writer’, or anything else. Writing is what I do, not what I am. I think writing is an expression. It is a way of sharing. It is also, I think, a way of understanding the world, and for expressing that understanding in ways that cannot be conveyed in speech. It is a way of communicating concepts – often flawed, maybe, but a way. To some extent, too, I think writing acts as a way of recharging the batteries. Know what I mean? Writing suits, I think, people who are more introverted than not.  Sometimes.

Everybody has their own reasons why they write – what pushes them. Why they have to write. But there is,  I think, always going to be a commonality. Maybe a surprising commonality.

Why do you write? Do tell. I figure we’re going to find a lot of like-minded people.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013

Coming up: Inspirations – the city rising from the wreckage; more on kindness; sixty second writing tips, and more.

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13 comments on “Write it now, part 2: do you write because you have to?

  1. stuartart says:

    Even though I am major busy with a lot of projects at the moment, I write pretty much every day. Even if that’s just a blog post! Habits, habits, habits! That’s what I stand by. :)

    • That writing habit is absolutely the best – writing every single day. There are no down sides to it that I can see…and as you say, it can be as simple as writing for a few minutes on a blog post.

  2. I started writing because it was hard to find the types of stories I wanted to read. So, I thought I’d give it a go. I have since found that it’s a way to preserve the ideas, scenes and stories that fill my head all day long. I really like going back and reading them at a later time like a memory.

    • Me too. Fiction and non-fiction alike. For me, re-reading old stuff also brings back the associations of what was happening when I wrote it – it is, very much, entwined with memory and with life experience.

  3. L. Palmer says:

    Writing keeps me mostly sane. I find I’m a happier person, and a better person to be around if I can write something in a fictional universe every day.

  4. Niki Savage says:

    When I write, my soul sings. I have never understood why some people say writing is hard work. How can it be work if I enjoy it so much? The ability to write full time, and make a living from it, is a privilege I’ll never take for granted.

    • Love that phrase! ‘When I write, my soul sings’. Never thought of it that way – but so true. And, indeed, writing is not ‘hard work’ in the sense of a numbing daily grind. It can definitely be hard work, sure – absolutely – but the passion and spirit of writing lifts it away from the ordinary.

  5. KM Huber says:

    For me, I write to find out what I am thinking (Joan Didion paraphrase); writing just may be the most valuable tool I have. Great post.

    Karen

    • Me too. It is wonderful how writing allows writers to perceive themselves – to organise their thoughts and crystallise them. A luxury, perhaps, that not everybody has. Although I wonder whether – in their own way – other artists do the same thing – with more abstraction – in their own medium? It’s a thought.

  6. Writing is something I must do – whether it is writing novels or even writing in my personal journal. I’ve honestly been like this since I was very young, and I guess I can’t imagine not writing. I get the impression that if I didn’t write at all, I would explode somehow. Writing is definitely the way I communicate, to talk to others and to myself. Being introverted may help, too :)

    • I know exactly what you mean. Writing is, absolutely, a form of communication for some people – more so perhaps than speech. And it has to be expressed! Introversion is definitely part of it – took me a long time to figure that one out, certainly for myself, but I think it’s true.

  7. S. Thomas Summers says:

    Writing…it’s a balm. When I write, I am at ease. I yearn for that peace. I could be enveloped by chaos, but if I am writing, there is peace.

    However, I admit, I could share many more reasons why I wield a pen, but I don’t want I bore you all.

    Best,

    S. Thomas Summers
    Author of Private Hercules McGraw: Poems of the American Civil War

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