Why do you Write?

At the Golden Network retreat at RWA® National conference 2014, we had many wonderful speakers. One author asked us the question: “Why do you write?” She handed out index cards and told us to be honest with our answer. We didn’t have to share it with anyone. It was ours to keep.

I had only recently asked myself that question after a particularly defeating month. After much soul searching I thought I knew my main reason: To provide a sense of identity and purpose. Without writing in my life, what would I have? Who would I be? What would I do with my day? But was that really my answer?


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Everyone will answer the question in a different way, depending on where they are in their life, career, and important relationships. I’m retired, divorced with no significant other, I’m getting older, my children are self-sufficient, and my responsibilities are minimal. Why would I choose to spend my days in a chair typing words onto a page? A writer’s life is a hard one. The question intrigued me. Why didn’t I choose to play golf with friends, learn to paint, take up yoga, play tennis, or travel the world? I made a list of why I write and how I achieve the goals I’ve set, and I taped it to the side of my computer screen:

Why I Write:

*Enjoyment

*Provide a sense of

identity and purpose

*Keep the brain active

*Add to income

How I Achieve my Goals:

*Write daily

*Write better

*Stay up on technology

*Network

               
      Woman with Arms in the AirThe enjoyment that comes from creating something, seeing it unfold on the screen before me, is an amazing feeling.

So, yes, while a sense of purpose and identity is important, the number one thing for me is enjoyment.

What about you? Why do you write?

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13 Responses to Why do you Write?

  1. Liz Flaherty says:

    It sounds pretty flippant, but I think my true answer is “because I can.” I’ve always been a geek, a wallflower, the last one chosen for everything. Once I became an adult, that was okay with me because the square peg I was fit neatly into the square hole of writing. It was something I could do and couldn’t NOT do, so…yes, because I can. And because it makes me really, really happy.

  2. More and more lately I’ve been feeling the reason I write is because I have a contract. That’s not a great reason. I’m 2/3rds through one book and owe one book more after that, then I’ll be out of contract, and maybe this time I’ll see what it’s like to write for myself again.
    I can think of lots of things I could add in to my life if I stopped writing, but my brain would get backed up with ideas and then I’d be grumpy. I will definitely explore the possibility of not write for hire anymore, but I suspect I’ll keep my fingers on the keyboard no matter how the future pans out.

    • Liz Flaherty says:

      I think this is so interesting, Lynne. The minute I’m out of contract (like now), the words sort of dry up on me and it seems I have to go seining for every one. Even though I can get panicky when I have a contract, I am ever hopeful, too.

    • robena grant says:

      Yes, Lynne. It would be great to take the time to explore. You’ve had a successful career. Maybe it’s time to add leisurely writing, just for the pure joy of it? I’ve never been under contract, so I’m not sure how I would be with that. I’m imagining it must come with pressure.

  3. Gina B. says:

    Thanks for a thought-provoking post, Robena. I guess I write because I love stories and writing stories. I love creating something, and I love the challenge of it. And it’s definitely a challenge. It’s just…fun, and it’s fulfilling in a way that nothing else is. I can’t imagine life without writing. I would be so cranky and bored. 🙂

  4. robena grant says:

    Hi, Gina. Yes, I think I would be horribly bored without writing in my life. It truly is fulfilling, and yet often times it fills us with dread. Sometimes I think I’m an adrenaline junky…or drunk on writing.

  5. Sam Beck says:

    It’s a good question to ask every now and again, no matter what you do, because time is precious and it makes sense to spend it doing something fulfilling.

    I have to admit, I write for the excitement! Counterintuitive, I know. What’s so darn exciting about spending hours in a chair, staring at a computer? But how else would a middle-aged wife and mother get to transform into a Hollywood stripper, a free-spirited massage therapist, or (ha!) a virgin, and have wild, crazy, sexy adventures with a Harley-riding bad boy, a dirty-talking helicopter pilot, or a hot homicide cop?

    I can’t resist. 😉

  6. robena grant says:

    Ha ha, Sam. Well said. It reminds of when Nora Roberts said someone asked her if her stories were based on real life and she answered somewhat like you did. If it wasn’t all in our imaginations, we sure would have exciting lives.

  7. You always get me thinking, Roben! I love Sam’s answer, too, and that’s definitely part of the reason why I write. The other part is the voices in my head! LOL Characters talk to me and I want to share their story. I love getting to create something for them – and I love letting them lead me along. I also hope to bring joy to others. If I can put a smile on someone else’s face, then it makes me happy. 🙂

  8. robena grant says:

    That’s wonderful, Robin. Making someone feel, especially joy, is a powerful thing. I was talking with my critique partner earlier, Gina Bono, and we spoke about the fun in writing the darkest most devious of characters. Ha ha. I guess that’s different strokes for different folks, right?

  9. Love this, Robena. That question was harder to answer than I expected, and I was just looking at my index card again yesterday. I’ve always wanted to write, partly because it was something I felt like I was decent at, and partly because little ideas and snippets of scenes were always occurring to me. I was and am an avid reader, but I wanted to tell my own stories.

    After I quit working for someone else, I decided to finally sit down and write because I wanted the mental challenge. I haven’t stopped since. The same pure joy isn’t always there like it was in the beginning, but I keep coming back. It’s part of who I am now. 🙂

  10. robena grant says:

    Hi, Gwen. I’m so happy you dropped by. I finally met Ara G. at our last LARA meeting, only got to say a quick hello, because I had a meeting afterward with my mentee.
    I agree this is a hard question to answer honestly. I even tried to remember exactly when I started to write. (I recall some cheesy poetry in college, some scripts for plays that me and my sibs acted out for our parents.) I think when the voices finally got too loud I started looking into story structure. ; )