Thursday, November 6, 2008

Why Do You Write?

A Guest Post by Julie Isaac

Why do you write?
What do you love about writing?
Why did you start writing?
What do you get out of writing?
What do you want to give others through writing?

The answers to these questions are what motivate us to sit down and write, are what get us to put writing first and everything else second.

When was the last time you sat with these questions and answered them? Do it now, and make a list of your most compelling answers.

Keep a copy of that list with you, and one where you write. When you're procrastinating, when you're writing tweets instead of your novel, when you're stuck, read your list. Read it slowly and really feel your answers.

Julie Isaac, the founder of www.WritingSpirit.com and author of the upcoming book, "Unleash Your Writing Genius," posts daily creativity tips for writers on Twitter.

Read Julie's review of my book, The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write.


Note from Mark David


When I first read Julie's "tweet" on my Twitter page, I knew I had to reply. This is the answer that (to my surprise) came out of me:

Why do I write? Because I can't not write, anymore than I can't not breathe.

Why do you write? Please share your thoughts, reasons and perspectives here as a comment.

44 comments:

Tarot By Arwen said...

Why do I write? To let the stories out. Otherwise I think I would just go insane. I need to let the characters out to play on the page. :)

Great post!

Mark David Gerson said...

Thanks, Arwen. I hope you get to play with them, too!

chris zydel said...

I sometimes wonder myself! it's such a weirdly agonizing process. But it allows me to figure out what I'm thinking and feeling, what shows up is often a total surprise and when I'm finished with a piece I have the sweetest feeling of contentment.

Amanda Evans said...

Why do I write? I pondered this question to come up with a rational answer but I just can't. From the moment I wake until the moment I sleep at night, writing is all I think about. Stories are whirling around in my head, blog post ideas, new articles, it's just the way I am. I just can't imagine my life without my writing.

Kimberlee said...

I write, because I am not alive when I'm not writing.

I was in a destructive relationship for 3 years, and during that time, I could not write. Not a word.

It took some months of repair after I left that relationship before I could write again. Once I did, I was finally free.

Kimberlee

Mary said...

For many years I didn't write even though it felt like breathing to me. I wanted to be a painter and I had teachers tell me I shouldn't dilute my energy. So I gave up writing and the violin. To be honest, I've never missed the violin but I missed writing terribly. I started doing some graduate work in education and my favorite professor got after me to write. I took a workshop and was told again, write, write, write! So I cautiously began to write as well as paint and I think they both are richer for the other! I publish 2 nature columns every week and write numerous features and reviews and am so glad my writing muse showed up....interestingly, it showed up after my mother died, she who was a major naysayer of my writing....she was a frustrated, unpublished writer herself....anyway, I write because I can and because I must...

MariL. McCarthy said...

I write for the health of it. It's my way of reconnecting to myself (I lose Me a lot sometimes). It guides me in exploring the expanse of my inner universe.

C.S.Stone said...

While lying on his death bed, my father told me I was an angel when I write... at the time I hadn't written anything in more than 10 years...

I took his words to heart and although I've been terribly busy since then, I've found time to "get the noise out of my head"....

I've started a novel (its percolatin' as my uncle would say...I'll finish it...one of these days)

I have a book full of short stories...

I posted up on my blog at least once a week...

I even have a small book of poetry...

I write because I have stuff to say (can't you tell?)

I write because I am a storyteller...

I write because God told me too speak...

(ok, I'll shut up now...)

Mark David Gerson said...

Wow! What awesome comments. Thanks to all of you for sharing. Thanks most of all for writing!!

Judy H. Wright said...

Hello from beautiful Montana:

I write because of the message of mutual respect and caring that needs to be taken globaly. I am a messenger and the words flow from my spirit into my fingers and out into the world.

When I speak, only those who are present can hear me. When I write, the readers will share the message with others.

Judy H. Wright aka Auntie Artichoke, family relationship coach and author
http://www.ArtichokePress.com

Mark David Gerson said...

Thanks, Judy. Your comments speak very much to that need to communicate we all share...that storytelling gene that's part of our human makeup.

Suze said...

Well, why not? *grin* I think I write to be the authentic, playful self that I cannot always be in life. I live alone, I work in a law firm, etc. so I don't get the chance to talk to my peops very often, dance around in my life, and...well, it's exercise for my brain, too.

I never wanted to leave a diary: I felt too exposed. But now I like live journal and myspace: it's kinda like putting things out into the Universe. And that way people know me now, instead of when I'm dead...*snort!* I'm thinking now about not justifying my life in my postings but just living. Hm, in that case, perhaps the writing is the predecessor of living it through.

terriz said...

I write because I know I have good stuff (wisdom?) to share with other business owners, and I write much better than I speak.

And, as I've explored different types of writing (copywriting, newsletters, blogging, writing articles, twittering) I find all of them allow me to be more authentic than I'm able to be in person, to different degrees. Which I find interesting and valuable as I figure out who I really am...

R.J. Medak said...

Why do I want to write?

For me, it is not a question of why, it is more that fact that I need to write for my own sanity. Something special calms the inner beast when the creative muse visits and allows me to exercise the mind and the creative juices deep within the recesses of the soul.When I am out driving, putting out the trash, lying in bed, or just about anywhere I am, thoughts of lines or plots just seem to come out of nowhere. When I am out running errands or just out with my wife, I notice people, places, and things that may be something to focus on for a story or poem.

I feel the need to write just as we need to breathe to live. Writing is life, life is writing; they cannot be separated. When I am not writing, I get depressed. There something about the solitude of being at one with nothing but language and how to use it to elicit emotions and thoughts by how the words are used that the reader can relate to and experience from the words on a page as they read the story created by the author.

To be able to write something that is like a child in a way, and share the joy, sorrow, place and time of the story. To give the reader an escape from their life for a few minutes or hours, where they are transported via the magic carpet of words on a page is what I as a writer hope happens.

The poems I write are a slice of life as I see it through creative eyes. I wrote a poem about a specific thing, yet readers saw different concepts of what the poem was about for them. I feel I did my job. They each got something out of it as their life experiences led them to an emotion. That is what a poem should do as far as I am concerned. To put into words life experiences and have the reader relate in some way that makes them feel something. The same goes for prose.

It is by writing that the authors fulfill some inner sense of themselves. At least for me, I find a sense of calmness that nothing else brings quite the same feeling. When I am writing, the rest of the world disappears and a unique place and time enters in its place. It is this strange sense of calmness that rejuvenates the inner grounding of the soul. I have literally spent hours editing, reading or writing without any sense of time passing.

There are stories to entertain, cause discussions, escape the pressures of real life, and more that comes from reading the works of authors. In the fast-paced world we live in, there is nothing better than to take some time to read a good book. Being a voracious reader myself, I may be slightly biased.

This is why I am a writer.

Posted on my Wordpress Blog

JoJo said...

I write to let the voices out that I won't utter. I write to honor them, to still them, to share their wisdom, humor them, and let themout to play and see where they go. Often I don't write, my fingers do - usually on the keyboard - occasionally on ground up shredded bark, scratching my thoughts onto the blank page. They are hungry to get out, playful, demanding little urchins, imps who instantly become new friends, I have yet to meet. If I do not give them light and life, they do not let me rest. Once out I often wonder from whence they came. ~ Joie ~

Mark David Gerson said...

I wish I could write a personal response to each post here. They're all so wonderful. But if i did, I'd have no time to write anything else!

Thanks to all of you...and keep writing!!

Pan Historia said...

The larger question for me is why do I not write more. Much as it describes in the post above - why do I send a tweet when I could be writing, why do I read a blog when I could be writing. I itch to write and when I'm writing I itch to stop. It's like an ant crawling on the back of my neck. I have to write because it's essential to me as an artist. I hate to write because I don't do it well enough.

Patsy Terrell said...

I write because it is a natural part of who I am. Most of my writing for public consumption is done at the keyboard, but my soul-searching writing happens with pen and paper. The connection of brain to hand to paper is one I will never let go of. There's a magic to seeing words appear that never gets old.

Matthew Detrick said...

I write to free my soul to dance a funkdafied two step of everlasting ecstasy.

I write to connect with my sunconscious, my higher self, my heart of hearts...

...love, which is me.

Mark David Gerson said...

So trying to keep up with all these wonderful comments. If I haven't commented back to you, it's no reflection on your words. Rather, it's a reflection on my ability to create the time to respond to each comment...

Pan Historia: One of the most important things all creative artists must do to remain sane and keep creating is to surrender to the fact that what we create will never be perfect. But it will be good enough. It is always good enough because we have created it.

Patsy: I wrote the first two drafts of my novel, The MoonQuest, in longhand. I definitely get the hand-heart connection (it's something I talk about in The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write.)

Matthew: Beautiful...some of the same reasons why I write.

Mark David Gerson said...

C.S. - Boy do I know the "God told me to speak" one!

Christin said...

I write because that's just what I do. It's how I'm wired. It makes me happy even when I'm struggling to do it.

*shrugs* Not the most poetic answer, but an honest one.

Linda Barnett-Johnson said...

Why do I write? Here’s my own motto: “Write what you feel; Feel what you write.” If I don’t write what I feel, then I fail to feel what I write. It’s just simply that.

Linda

Mark David Gerson said...

Christin: It must be how I'm wired, too. It's probably how we're all wired! (Truth beats out poetry every day.)

Linda: A simple truth and an important one if we're going to connect with others through our words.

Lizzie_Lu said...

For me, writing is like breathing. I have to write to survive. I've always written and will always write. I write both poetry and fiction, and am probably a better poet. I write to help myself make sense of the world, of life, good and bad, and hope that what I write strikes a chord with people who happen to read it. I love to write, to tell stories. I love when I fall into that place where my characters take over and begin to tell the story themselves.

LizzieLu

Mark David Gerson said...

Lizzie Lu: I agree 100%. Thanks for the comment.

Tatiana Escalada said...

I write out of the need to communicate with others and with my higher self. Is a unique connection and process. Part cathartic, part creative which takes on a life of its own. Sometimes a scary, very addictive and always magical journey.

Mark David Gerson said...

Tatiana: I think the magical -- alchemical -- aspect of creation is the most wondrous part of the journey. In fact, in recognition of that, this is the dedication I wrote for The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write:

"Writing is alchemy...truly a tool of wizards, witches and sorcerers. It’s the magic wand, the incantation, the wave of the hand that transforms all..."
To the creator alchemist in us all.

Charlie Allnut said...

I write, therefore I am...

Roger C. Parker said...

Great question, Julie; a nice way to start the day.

I write to discover and make sense of things, to find out how things work.

I guess it all started when my grandmother would give me clocks to take apart and "fix." All those gears and how they all meshed together.

Donald Murray wrote "Write to Learn" and William Zinsser's "Writing to Learn" are long-time favorites.

Nicole said...

I saw Julies Tweet on this so I figured I'd come join in.


Why do you write?
I had always been fascinated with writing. Though I'm not any good, and always had gotten lower grades on creative writing, last year I did NaNoWriMo for the first time and I didn't make 50K but I felt like I got so much more out of it.

I didn't write creatively until this summer again, when I wrote a piece of fan fiction for a friend who was down in the dumps. I know the characters weren't mine, but it helped to get my creative muse flowing again.

What do you love about writing?
I love being able to get my thoughts down somewhere. Though my mind works way faster than I can type, it's just nice to know I can get little bits and pieces out, and possibly eventually turn it into a story.


Why did you start writing?
NaNoWriMo made me write, I continue because I want to.


What do you get out of writing?
I get relaxation out of it.

What do you want to give others through writing?
I have no idea as I really don't like sharing other things because I know it's not good. So I keep things to myself.

tjonsek said...

When I write, I feel fully alive. Like I'm tapping into the most essential piece of me.

Shea said...

There are some amazing answers here. Makes me feel a little shallow to admit it, but I doubt I care.

I write for fun. The answer to every question is related to fun. I write because I enjoy it and that's really all there is to it.

Marie Beausoleil said...

Why do you write? - I've tried not writing, and I become a little bit crazy. It's not a nice me.

What do you love about writing? - Oh, definitely the agonizing over finding the right words, the roller coaster of self-esteem and ... oh, wait. No. I can't say I *love* writing. I just have to do it. Like some painters say they just have to paint, I guess.

Why did you start writing? - Why? Oh, my. I was four years old. Before that, I told the stories aloud. 'Why' has never come into it. Writing is just what I do.

What do you get out of writing? - The characters (let's not call them the voices in my head, cuz that would just be *crazy*) stop pestering me to tell their story.

What do you want to give others through writing? - A good story. That'd be nice. I'd like them to feel the emotions of the characters and to feel alive in the period of which I describe.

Rose said...

I write because if I didn't, I wouldn't know what to do with myself. I wouldn't know how to function if I didn't have a place to pour out what I've been thinking and feeling.

Autumn Heartsong said...

I write because I've come through the wandering, freefall madness of my youth relatively intact. I remember a few books and words of wisdom I read when I was still in the dark, and they pointed me toward the light. Here I am now, on the far side of fifty, knowing I don't have forever to pay the debt I owe for the help I received. I write because I have a little bit of hard-won wisdom that someone wandering in the dark might be able to use, and that's the only coin accepted by the universe in payback for saving grace.

Susan Schanerman said...

Hey Y'All - -

I write because It gets what is inside of me, outside of me. We all must express ourselves in one way or another. Thik of a balloon just getting bigger and bigger - - ultimately it just has to POP!

The greatest reward for me is when someone responds to something I have written and says it has impacted them or inspired them or provoked them to think - - that's the real joy to me!!!

Susan

Shannon said...

Great post & comments! I write because it's part of my being who I am & part of how I express myself in the world. I write to document my life, to remember and to touch in with my gratitude and learnings. I write because I'm happiest when I'm writing and most at peace. I write because it connects to me a deep, centered part of my soul and connect me to spirit. I write to share my story. I write because it inspires me. I write to let out the stories and sentence that are written on my heart and want to be unleashed. I write to honor the gift of this calling.
Thanks for letting me comment!
Shannon, The Inspired Writer

Helen H. David said...

I write because when I don't I feel like I am holding my breath. I literally get a headache when I don't write. I went through a ten-year period when I didn't write due to the grief of losing three husbands, and I almost didn't make it through. Now that I am writing again I feel like someone who has been on a very long journey and has finally made it back home.

Ellen Weber said...

I write for several reasons: In my brain based work, I write to learn how the latest brain facts could inspire an everyday life.

In my textbooks with places like Pearson Publishers, I write to unpack ideas so that people can inspire those they teach. Many people write because they know things - I write to learn and discover and chase the wonder in things.

In fiction, I like to allow characters to take me on a few spins through their world. Right now I am editing a literary novel I wrote from 2 years spent in the High Arctic on Baffin Island.

I'd love to see it hit the best sellers - but as a first time novelist I'll be lucky to even have it read:-)

Thanks for the chance to tell why I write:-) What a cool idea to read and jump into this thoughtful discussion.

Hope y'all get into print and wow the readers! Let me know and I'll be first in line to buy a copy!

Dod March said...

I write because I love the process of telling a story, showing the reader a world never seen and letting their minds color it.

If the reader can feel the same (or more) about who and what my story is about, I feel like I've shared something.

Mark David Gerson said...

Once again, I wish I could respond to each of you individually. Suffice it to say you are all inspiring and I'm so glad you're out there spreading your words and your heart for others to experience.

Write on!

Aquarius757 said...

I write to make sense of it all.

Mark David Gerson said...

That's probably true for all of us, Aquarius. Thanks for sharing.