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Why Do We Write?

People write for a variety of reasons. For some, it is a career; for others, a hobby. Some write because it helps them to sort out their feelings. Some have a story to tell. And some write because nothing in the world makes them happier.

Why do you write?

Have you ever really thought about it? I don't mean the surface reasons: "I write because people pay me to." I mean, what is it about writing that you love? What makes you shake off the disappointment of rejection letters and want to start again? Why are some of us so sure that we were meant to write and others avoid it like the plague?

Here is what some of the write List members had to say....


That is a very good question. To me it has more and more become the equivalent to Why do I breathe? Or Why do I eat? -- Pirjo

I write because of passion. The passion in my heart and soul need to come out, so writing is the only way that I can do this....Passion is what makes a writer. If you do not have passion for what you are doing, well, you won't be able to write. I write because I want someone to feel something. I write from my experiences, hoping that someone will learn, or feel sad, or happy. -- Dina

Anyway, I guess there are several reasons why I write - mainly because it's the only thing I'm really good at, and because the little voices in my head tell me to. Before you call the mental ward, it's the characters that talk to me! If you haven't guessed yet, I'm a humor writer....Some people are great cooks, others are talented at automotive work and then there are those of us who are dying to entertain the world with our smart-ass reflections on the world around us. -- Sharon

Why do I write? That is both an easy and a difficult question, especially if I were to try to explain it to a non writing person. There are several different reason, none of them really connected. My main reason would have to be because I have to....Writing is something that gets into your blood, like a terminal disease you can never entirely get rid of....There are stores buzzing around in my head, characters that become my best friends and they compel me to write about them. Like a pesky fly they buzz around until I relent and bring them to life on paper....I write because I love it. The feeling I get when I finish a book is indescribable, like receiving a much wished for Christmas present. Like I have just climbed Mount Everest. -- Katherine

Why do I write? Because I was born to be a writer. As a child, I spent all my free time reading; escaping into far away places, meeting new people and being the person I wanted to be. That ''escape route' became my lifeline out of a torment of 'real life' and I've always felt I owed it to others and myself, to pay that back. I now try to create places and people and events that can fill that gap for others out there who want to be more than they are or can be. -- Sherry

I've never been someone that has felt that writing is my call, and I've never thought that I would one day be a professional writer, (well, maybe occasionally). I started writing out of spite. Pure and simple. I read a book one day, I won't say which. It was by an 'acclaimed' author, and it was the biggest load of tripe I've ever had the displeasure of picking up. My first thought was 'I can do better than this.' so I decided to give it a bash. As it turns out, I couldn't do better, but somewhere along the line I realised writing was fun - so here I am. -- Brendan

Why do I write? There is no one answer to that. My deep passion for writing began to blossom when I was a very small girl, 4 or 5 years old. My mom worked at the library and brought home books for us to read together all the time. It wasn't long before I had stories of my own to tell. Now, at 28, stories run through my head like symphonies, all competing for the honor of being the next one put on paper (or screen)....I have always seen writing as a gift. Writing has been so many things to me. As an only child, writing was my playmate....Writing was also an escape from an alcoholic father, a way to release my pain and feelings without fear. As a shy person for whom public speaking is not a strong point, writing also helps me to express myself and my opinions in a way that is non-threatening. Writing is such an integral part of who I am, I can not imagine ever not writing....Writing fills me with such a joy and happiness. It's the one thing in life I know I can do well. My love of writing is the one thing I own that can never be taken from me. It's almost like a security blanket....So why do I write? Because it's what I do. It's who I am. It's as natural and necessary to me as breathing. And, I may add, the best gift I've ever gotten. -- Sue

I write because I like it. I write to relieve stress. I can be someone else when I write. I can solve anything when I write. It makes me think when I write. -- Kay

Unlike most people on this list, writing hasn't always been some kind of desire in me. When I started, it was for the pure rush of excitement that just overcame me every time I saw my name in print. I guess you could best call it a feeling of accomplishment -- a high...But something happened in my career that changed my outlook on things. When I was a sports stringer for my local paper, one day I was assigned to cover a local American Legion baseball game....I learned that a team official had died over the weekend and a pregame ceremony was going to be held to honor him....I saw the emotion in their eyes when they talked about this man, and it was obvious what an impact he had not just on the team, but on the whole community. It was then that I made my first decision as a writer, completely on my own without worrying about how much space we had or what the editor thought or anything -- we HAD to do a feature on this man and the ceremony to honor him....The real eye opener came a few days later, when I received a card in the mail from the man's family. They wanted to thank me for taking the time to tell his story and sharing warm memories about the man's life. I was stunned. It was the first time I really realized that my words could impact the lives of others. But writing the article, I not only snagged a paycheck and a byline, but I touched a community. It is things like this that make me want to write. -- Chuck

Why do I write? There are many reasons. First and foremost, I write to express myself. Secondly, I write to put myself in impossible situations (situations that I would want to be in but can't.) I love to fantasize so I make stories out of my fantasies. The third reason why I write is to keep records of past events; I write about things that happen to me. -- Nchimunya

About a year ago I had a dream. It was a story of a woman who was a prisoner on her own property, much as I often feel living in the middle of nowhere. She had a strong desire to move back to the place she loved and where she had friends, much as I would like to do. This dream kept coming, probably because I am more and more disgusted with my own life. My subconscious seemed to be telling me that I could put pieces of my life and feelings, as well as pieces taken from others I know, together to make a story. Giving my feelings to a character makes me feel better. Until my dream comes true, I have to write. -- Jordan

All through my youth, my family moved around. Dad was in the Army, see, and any Army brat can tell you that living that way will either pull a family closer, or pull it apart. It pulled us closer. The only friends we knew we'd always have were ourselves, and one of our favorite games to play was "What If..." The four of us kids would play-act stories about ongoing characters, invisible friends that acted as foil to our mobile lifestyle. Our 'people' had roots, a history of their own. They built fortresses in the forests, since we couldn't. They constructed bicycle highways -- high as in through the treetops -- since we couldn't. They did everything that we couldn't. It was a simple, logical progression as we got older to take that experience with characters and move it onto paper. -- Tammy

Who am I? I am a student of life. I am in the business to learn. I go about this in a simple but yet complex fashion. I observe people. I listen to people. Everyday happenings, whether they be happy or sad are my crash courses. There is no agenda for what I listen to. Perhaps by eavesdropping or actually participating in a conversation, I store whatever information I can glean out of a it....As a result of all this observing, listening and rationalizing, I need an outlet to express it-- to gaze at it in the tangible, therefore I yearn to write it. Then I can learn from it because as I mentioned earlier, "I am in the business to learn." -- Kim C.

Because not writing would be like death to me. At seven I already had a clear vision of what my path in life would be: I would be a writer. While my friends played four square (anyone know what that is?) and talked about the next birthday party, I sat in a corner with pen to paper living the life, creating the life that could only be mine in dreams. I was quite a lonely child with severe self-esteem problems and I clung to writing like a life-line - I believed it was the only thing I could do well....Writing is not a hobby for me, not a career. It is a compulsion. the truth is I can't not write. I now have a clearer vision of my future and I know what type of writer I want to be (a journalist), but that seven year old's ambition and enthusiasm is still here, inside me. -- Bianca

What goes through your mind when you leave work and look up at the sky, pink and blue and orange with a perfect sunset? A Poem?

What comes to your mind when you take a walk by Lake Michigan (or water spot of your choice) and hear the waves rolling towards you? An erotic love story?

When you read the paper, does your mind think of endings to unsolved murders? Does your imagination run wild at the thought of writing a great political satire?

These are reasons why I write. My heart races when I think of a great idea and I can't find my notebook to write the ideas down fast enough. I get excited just thinking about a title or how I'll tie in that twisty ending.

I think all of us must have a spot deep in our souls that creates that need to get our thoughts out on paper for others to see. I know that I want my stories to make readers laugh, cry and feel good or bad. The idea that I have the power to create emotions through my writing is a high that I can't find too often in life. Reading what everyone has written, I'd say we all have that soul spot and it shows.

Breaking into this writing career is hard. If you love your words, you put up with those free submissions, hoping that at some point you can make a living (even a feeble living) doing what you love.

Why do I write? To release all my emotions and share them. It's a need. It's a sweet addiction to the written word. -- Meg

Does this sound familiar to you? To add your comments to this page, use the e-mail link below and put "Why I Write" in the subject header.

Email: myjourneyy@aol.com