Why Do You Write?

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I found the words in the above photo written on one of the decorated pianos on the streets of downtown Mesa, Arizona. The pianos were part of a travelling exhibition PLAY ME I’M YOURS. The words started me thinking about why writers write and why I write.

Words are a lens to focus one’s mind. ∼Ayn Rand

Some writers write to work through emotions and help them make sense of the world. I use writing this way at times, but there are other times when I absolutely cannot write about the emotions and circumstances I am trying to make sense of. At those times, I may be more like the writers who write to create a new world, one which makes more sense than reality, one they can control.

Why am I compelled to write? . . . Because the world I create in writing compensates for what the real world does not give me. By writing I put order in the world, give it a handle so I can grasp it. ∼Gloria E. Anzaldúa

I just knew there were stories I wanted to tell. ∼Octavia E. Butler

F. Scott Fitzgerald said you write because you’ve got something to say. Some people have stories they need to get out. They may have only one story which needs telling or they may have several. There may be issues to shed light on, injustices to reveal. Some feel driven to educate. At a workshop I attended last spring, Winnipeg author David Alexander Robertson said he has to write to work through emotions and make sense of the world. His current direction is shaped by a desire to educate on indigenous culture, based on his own experience of being disconnected from one’s culture. At that same workshop, Anita Daher said she had been shy and used writing as way to connect with the larger world. She felt like writing gave her a voice. I like that writing gives me a voice.

I loved words. I love to sing and speak them and even now, I must admit, I have fallen into the joy of writing them. ∼Anne Rice

I love reading. I loved escaping into other worlds through the books I read as a child. I am both humbled and inspired by great writing. Books bring joy and shape lives. Some writers write to the create that joy and motivation for others. That too may be part of the reason I write, but it is still not the whole story.

We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection. ∼Anais Nin

Anais Nin’s statement about writing to taste life twice is certainly true for me when I do travel writing on my travel blog or elsewhere. I get to live the experience all over again.

We write to remember our nows later. ∼Terri Guillemets

If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad. ∼Lord Bryon

I’m not sure I need to write to ward off insanity (some might claim writing is insanity), but there are times thoughts and bits of my story take over my mind, circulating around all other thoughts until I finally write them out of my head. In my case, this is most likely to occur when I am already immersed in a piece in progress and am working through how the rest of it should unfold or what needs to changed. When that piece is finished, I can go a long time without needing to empty my mind.

I write for the same reason I breathe . . . because if I didn’t I would die. ∼Isaac Asimov

For some writers, writing is simply an integral part of who they are. It is something they must do. I’m fascinated by those claims. I’ve written on and off for most of my adult life, but there were long periods when I was busy with other parts of my life and I didn’t write. I didn’t fall apart or implode. As I spend more time writing these days, I understand better this kind of drive or compulsion. I often feel the need to write. Getting back to writing after life takes me away from it for days or even weeks feels like coming home. But I’m still not sure it is essential to my survival.

I write for all these reasons and for none of them. I cannot completely define why I write. I just know that I feel more fulfilled when I write. It is where I belong.

Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else. ∼Gloria Steinem

Why do you write?

You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you. And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke. ∼Arthur Polotnik

I write because I don’t know what I think until I read it. ∼Flannery O’Connor

Because I can’t seem to escape it. It’s a way for me to address and counter my questions about what it means to be human, or in my case a Dominican human who grew up in New Jersey. ∼Junot Diaz

That’s why I write because life never works except in retrospect. You can’t control life, at least you can control your version. ∼Chuck Palahniuk

That is why I write – to turn sadness into longing, solitude into remembrance. ∼Paulo  Coelho

It’s who I am. It’s what I love. I even write for fun on top of writing for a living. I couldn’t NOT write. I need to write like I need to breathe, to eat, it’s vital to me. ∼Cynthia MacGregor

Writing is the most fun you can have by yourself. ∼Terry Pratchett

What motivates writers to write? #writing

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  1. jacquiegum said:

    This seems to be a question for the ages, in terms of writing that is. I think I could cobble together a piece of each of these quotes and maybe come up with a reasonable answer. When asked this question, I’ve distilled my answer down to “Because I have to.” Perhaps that comes from all the editorial direction I’ve been given:) LOL

    March 11, 2016
  2. Such a great topic and so many rich quotes. Writing about why we write truly never gets old. The process is so easy to have a love affair with. I would mostly say I write as a way to make sense of all the thoughts in my head. The proper form to best convey those thoughts can vary from poetry, to essays, to fiction. A lot depends on my mood.

    March 12, 2016
    • Donna Janke said:

      Thanks Jeri. I agree the proper form to best convey thoughts varies – by topic as well as mood. I also think the the reasons we write may vary at different points in our lives, but it is a process it’s easy to have a love affair with.

      March 12, 2016
  3. **If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad.** ∼Lord Bryon

    yeah, that’s pretty much how I feel, too!

    Great topic!

    March 12, 2016
    • Donna Janke said:

      It is a great topic. I love all the reasons people write and like to think about what drives me – it is not a simple, one-faceted answer.

      March 12, 2016

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