If you’re somebody who, at some point each day, or on a decent proportion of your allotted days, sits down and picks up a pen or puts your fingers on a keyboard and strings words together of your own free will: why?
It’s a strange thing to do.
You do realise you’re basically just making stuff up, don’t you? Plus it’s antisocial, it leads to RSI, it eats into valuable TV watching time. It can result in weight gain and episodes of vagueness and a generalised ongoing feeling of dissatisfaction and low-level anxiety. (Or is that just me?) And there is only the most minuscule chance of what you write being published, and even less of it being successful.
So why do you do it? Why do I do it?
I’ve been thinking about this lately.
Tonight I’ve made a list.
What motivates me to write:
- An itch to put words on paper. That’s something that I was born with I think, and the more I do it the worse the urge gets. To paraphrase Leonard Cohen, There ain’t no cure for love (of writing) I can’t imagine it every going away!
- The fact that I think books are hands-down the best thing in the world (other than my son) and that I can’t imagine my life without stories or the characters in them. Books are the way we get to live more than just this one life we’ve been given. They’re how we connect and learn, and how we forget and remember. If I could add something to the stock of stories in the world, I’d feel my life had been worthwhile.
- I’m essentially an introvert. I’d rather sit and type words than talk to people, if I had the choice. That’s where I get my happy glow.
- I like a challenge. I’m determined to write a novel. Novels are big and complex and take a very long time to build and I don’t know how to make one. I’m working on it. I will learn or die trying. Probably both, given enough time.
- On any given day, when I’m working on a story, it’s like I’m in the middle of a conversation with my characters and I don’t know what they’ll say next. Most days they surprise me. When I sit down to write, often with ZERO ideas and a deep pit of roiling horror in my chest, I’m trying to figure out who they are and what they’re up to. And actually, once I take the tightrope walk across the pit of horror to the other side, it’s fun. It’s lots of fun! And it’s not lonely at all, it’s the opposite of lonely. That’s a big reason why I write.
- I love the idea that, at some point, I’ll be able to write THE END and finish a story and then, after lots more work, send it out into the world. I’m working on that right now, though I spoiled it for myself by overshooting on my first draft and writing past the ending, so now I’m going back to unpick where Book One of my series ends and Book Two starts. So instead of writing ‘THE END’, I had to write ‘THE END?’ which didn’t feel quite as good.
How about you? Why do you write?