Why Write?

The owner of a bookstore is offering a course on writing and has asked myself and two friends to host it. Of course we said no.

Right. Of course we greedily jumped at the chance. We will be meeting soon to brainstorm ideas, and here’s where my mind has wandered off to. Let’s see. Plot, character arc, dialog, setting, to outline or not to outline. Blah, blah, blah. How many times have we listened to people discourse on those topics?

It seems like eventually a writer ends up talking about their individual  writing process. And believe me, I’m not one of those who says a writer has to write my way or they’re doing it wrong. Which then makes me wonder, why talk about my process if it is simply what works for me? And who cares?

See how easy it is to talk yourself out of feeling like you have anything valuable to offer?  But seriously, how can you make such a course fresh and interesting? Well, of course it depends on the skill level of the audience. Brand new writers are going to be excited to talk about any of those topics. Writers who have been in the business a while, however, might want more.

That all sounds fine, but I still want a flash-bulb idea. I want to walk along the story river and find a rock of an idea that’s never been turned over.

I want to have people leave excited to write. That, to me, is more important than talking about whether to outline or not. So then the question is, how do you create and share that excitement?

I guess you talk about the love of writing because really, that’s why we write isn’t it? We don’t love writing because we get to plot or create a synopsis.

So help me out here. Why do you love writing? Or creating any art form for that matter?

13 thoughts on “Why Write?

  1. LOL, this is a really complicated question. And my first thought was, to clean up my brain…because sometimes I have so many ideas in there that form into pictures and scenes and dialogues and when I write them down I keep them, instead of loosing them due to more important things that need to be in the front of my brain.
    So I would plainly say to conserve. Not really for others, but for myself, since I am still a beginner and easily scared to share. It is fun to revisit older stories, just like revisiting old friends or reading a journal to remember things…


    • That’s funny, cleaning up your brain! I know I’ve told you this before, but for me, I write because I can’t draw. It’s the only way I know to get those images, dreams, out of the soul and into the world. Guess writing is a birthing process.



  2. Congratulations on the new gig! It sounds exciting. Classes always make me feel more energetic about writing.

    Why do I love writing? The same reason I love to knit and crochet and want to learn to draw well. It’s the crafting of the art. The attention to detail and the experimentation. Writing words, unravelling them, changing their order to see if I like what happens, and then finding what seems evocative and right.

    It’s also cool to discover mistakes in things I’ve written in the past so I can recognize and sidestep traps I’ve fallen into before.


    • How true about theunravelingof words and what a great way to describe it. I like to recognize mistakes in my writing, too, because it makes me feel like I’ve grown as a writer. Of course, I can’t count how many times I turn around and repeat those mistakes! I really need a key on the computer that automatically deletes the word ‘that’ because I use it way too often!



  3. When I look at something, my eye, mind and imagination take a roundabout, circuitous, metophorical route. I never seem to look at something straightly. When I write, I analyze, absorb and then make the thing my own.

    I love to use words and grammar in the same cock-eyed way. The result can be more painterly than verbose, but if I get the arrangement correct I can’t help but sighing with relief and happiness.


    • I like the thought of using words and grammar in a cockeyed way. It reminds me of the talks we’ve had here about those who write with English as their second language, and how they don’t take the language for granted. It sounds like you have that same gift. Which is probably why I so like the things of yours that I’ve read. It gives the writing an original flare.


  4. Yes, it’s a big question!! And I don’t think I really know all the elements of what calls me to create. Sometimes it’s an idea, something fun to play with. Sometimes it’s an emotion, something I need to remove from my system and pull apart. Sometimes it’s just an itch, something I need to do or I won’t feel right until I do it.

    Actually, it strikes me that this would be a fun question to ask the attendees in the course, if you’re looking for freewrite topics. You could have them think of some other area in their life in which they love creating, and ask why they do it.


  5. Oh, how true, removing something from the system and pulling it apart. While you were talking about emotions, that’s really where my last story came from. A question my father had that would never be answered and so it just kept nagging me. I knew the only way to get past it was to answer the question myself so I started writing about it. The answer was totally fiction, but it removed that thought that kept bugging me. You have a good idea about asking attendees about why they create.


    • There’s a Penelope Lively story collection, Making It Up, that’s based around that premise: answering nagging questions and what-ifs. Lively looks back at various pivotal moments in her life and imagines what would have happened if she’d chosen the other path. I loved it.


  6. Great topic! For me, the impulse is All about BEAUTY! I get to tune out the static, clear out the toxins, and let whatever experience there is be without pollution. So in effect, I agree with everyone above! Something about putting our experience into another form makes it truly beautiful, even something ugly, or sad. For me it can be a grounding, without which life would not mean very much.


  7. I like how so many of us use writing almost as therapy, without us being aware of it. Like in the poetrypause comment above, putting our experiences into another form to make it beautiful, and how that can be grounding. Wise words.


  8. “I want to walk along the story river and find a rock of an idea that’s never been turned over.” Love that.
    While I was reading this, for some reason I was thinking of Toni Morrison’s acceptance speech for the Nobel prize. I don’t know why but these days I’m trying to follow my brain instead of shut it down and so I tell you that now.
    (Have you heard her speech? It is magnificent. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ticXzFEpN9o)


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