Why do I write?

I write because I can’t paint for shit. Creativity is fundamental to my well-being; I don’t just write I also knit, draw, sew, take photos, make jewellery and I’m a gardener (as in, gardening is my job 8 till 4.30 every week day). I do these things with varying frequency and level of skill, mostly at a mediocre level (except the gardening – I’m pretty ok at that) and writing is the one I think I’m best at and if you think my writing’s mediocre you should see my drawing.

I write because I enjoy the feeling of words in my brain. When the words are right they give me a shiver; I don’t often manage to create this effect with my own writing but I want to dammit. Does that make this a kind of mental masturbation? Oh. Ick. I think I need to go and have a lie down. Not that kind of lie down you perv.

I write because I want to be a writer. Can’t be a writer if you don’t write now can you? In what way do I want to ‘be a writer’? I’d like to be published and supplement my income with a few word pennies. Or I’d like people to read my writing and enjoy it and if I can give them that little right-words shiver? Even better. Or I’d like to be a world-famous bestselling author. Maybe not the last one since book tours and public speaking seem like they’d be my own personal hell so let’s change that to ‘moderately successful full-time author’.

I write because I like the ‘snick’ sound you get when the plot clicks together in your head.

I write because I want to be better at writing. Simple. Get better by doing. It’s frustrating to have a glorious picture in your head, something that really sings, but when you get it down on paper it’s slightly skew-whiff and a bit grubby and out of focus. It’s as if the process of squeezing the thoughts out of my brain makes them crap – I think this is why writers sometimes spend a lot of time thinking and talking about their process because what works for one writer for cleanly getting the shit from brain to paper doesn’t seem to work for everyone. It’s like our brain orifices are different shapes and so the exudation process is different for everyone.

I write because there’s this goddamn story in my head. And that other story and that other one, and the one about the octopus.

I write because I hate editing. By god I hate editing. I might be ok(ish) at writing but I suck at editing. And so I’d rather write something new than work on the old thing, even though the old thing will never be more than crap if I don’t polish it.

I write because I enjoy it when people are complimentary about my writing. This doesn’t happen very often and if I want it to happen more often I need to write more, get better and get it out there.

I write because having finished a story or poem is a great feeling. There’s that shiny ‘I did that and it’s mostly good’ feeling that I also get from planting up a new flower border or finishing a difficult knitted shawl. Even better is finding a story or poem you wrote a while ago and had mostly forgotten, rereading it and going ‘hey, that’s pretty good.’ It’s so easy to get bogged down in the feeling of nothing ever being good enough; not knowing when to stop editing, feeling depressed because everyone and their dog is a better writer than you, hating your own work that actually going ‘I’m done! And it’s ok!’ is refreshing.

I write because not writing would be to give in to the self-doubt.


This post was written in response to the prompt on Chuck Wendig’s blog last week.

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