Why do you write?

Why do you write?

What motivates you to spend hour after hour after hour at the keyboard?

Why do you need to put words to paper?

Just as importantly, what makes you stick with it once you get started? Because writing a book is incredibly time-consuming, it would be easy to abandon it before it’s finished.

Yet, you’ve stayed with it, probably for months or even years.

Why Gloria Steinem writes

Journalist Gloria Steinem says she writes because it feels right. “Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else,” she says.

Why do you write 2

That’s how I feel about it, too. It feels like what I should be doing. Just as importantly, though, I write because I enjoy it. Sometimes, it’s even therapeutic.

It’s also my profession, which makes me a little different from many authors today. I majored in journalism and public relations in college. Unlike most, I’m still doing what I set out to do when I made a career choice as a high school senior.

Fortunately, it was the right choice for me. Nonfiction writing, whether it’s for this blog or for journalism assignments, helps me show others how to do something better or faster. It allows me to introduce readers to interesting people doing good work or to expose them to new ways of solving old problems.

Why do you write?

Do you know why you write?

I think that knowing why you do it might motivate you to stay with your current project, start a different one, or learn how to become better at it. That’s how it works with me, anyway. I sometimes have to remind myself of why I’m doing it, especially when I hit an obstacle or two.

I want to know about you.

Tell us in a comment: Why do you write? What do you hope your writing will accomplish? What’s your motivation? 

I’m looking forward to learning more about you through your answer.

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  1. Sometimes I think I write because I want tangible forms for the stories and imaginings rolling around my brain.

    Other times I think I write because it seems that I cannot not write.

    In my pubescent youth it was ‘the sincerest form of flattery.’ I wanted to do what the writers I loved did. I wanted to entertain like they entertained me. That’s how I started.

    1. Do you write fiction, Steven? Presuming yes, do those stories ever surprise you once you get them out of your head and onto paper — are you surprised by where you end up taking them?


  2. Because I think I have something to say! As I pre-date the era of social media and kept diaries and notes during my long life of 87 years, I have some comparisons to make from a childhood in London in World War Two to a world governed by digital technology. Hence my latest book – a memoir entitled ‘So, what next? – a look, with hindsight, at the modern world’.

    1. Thank you, Sylvie! You were so smart to keep diaries. I sometimes wish I had done that.


  3. I write for myself to clarify my experience or express feelings. I write for others (i.e., for publication) to share insights or perspectives that I hope will be helpful to them, whether through inspiring, entertaining, provoking or comforting.

    1. Thanks, Roni. I often find that writing about a personal experience helps me understand it better. Does it work that way for you, too?


  4. I think I’d have to agree with her quote. Writing is the only thing that fits, that keeps me smiling and coming back for more. The excitement from creating a story, a world, an epic love story from thin air is one of the best feelings in the world. It gives me the power to create.

  5. It’s an addiction, like alcohol, sex, or drugs. If I don’t write, I feel depressed and angry. Also it helps me figure out life, people, and my responses. I write fiction primarily so lots of emotions get worked out on pages.

  6. Hi Bonnie – not sure about that. Any figuring out I did under the influence of alcohol turned out to be rather illusionary as well as often bad news for other people! Haven’t tried drugs. Sex? Mmm – gets rid of tension but I’m not sure how many answers it might provide!

  7. I’m not being silly when I say, “because it’s there”. I sort of fell into writing late in life when a story just wouldn’t go away and evolved into my trilogy. Now, working on my fifth novel, it seems that’s the goal – to let my characters tell their stories – and hope there are people out there who will enjoy reading them.

    1. Yvonne, it sounds like it was meant to happen. You were wise to pay attention and allow it to.


  8. As a young person, I enjoyed trying to turn my imagined worlds into “pictures” someone could see and enjoy with me. Then I stumbled into nonfiction writing, and sank my teeth into the challenge of revealing truth, facts, reality in all their actual glory. While some of the storytelling techniques are the same, the raw materials on the table are different.
    It’s like a cooking show where the chef is handed ingredients and the clock starts ticking: “Whip up something tantalizing!”

    1. Thanks, Karen. I like how you compare nonfiction writing to something like Top Chef — great analogy. I see it as putting together a puzzle with many solutions. The way I put it together might look different from your end product, but they’re both valid solutions.


  9. Because I have been a book and word-lover from the age of six. And being a writer was always the undercurrent in my psyche no matter other jobs I took on for keeping the wolf from the door. Reading the Hobbit at the age of 8 fired my imagination and made me want to write something like that. It took me sixty years to complete “ifflepinn island” but my reward is many reviewers claiming it is a new children’s classic, “up there with The Hobbit and the Wizard of Oz.” So that’s my joy as a writer to do the same for others that Tolkien did for me.

    1. That’s pretty amazing, Muz. Congratulations on those reviews — that’s a lot to make you proud.


  10. So many great reasons here. I’ve always loved writing because I like hunting for the perfect word / phrase to convey a message. I write fiction because I have stories that need to be read and experienced.

    1. Thanks, Ele. I’ve really enjoyed reading the comments here, too. Regarding finding just the perfect word or phrase, that’s one thing I admire about good novelists. They put words together in ways I never could. It’s an impressive skill.


  11. I write because I love expressions. I love the journal of conveying words into several parts starting with a beginning, a middle than the end. Writing is in many categories of truth, or in exaggeration. It’s a release magnesium that doesn’t stop.

  12. It’s my lifeblood! I lose myself and find myself in my writing. I think most of us, particularly women, can become hostage to external forces and forget who we really are. For me, every time I write I’m retrieving and bringing back to life aspects of myself that got buried under cultural mores.

    1. How fascinating, Paula. It sounds like it’s therapeutic — and that you’d do it even if nobody ever saw a word you write. Yes? No?


  13. I first began writing to sell back in the late 1980’s. I was working as a legal assistant in a law office and got a copy of some new “Rules and Regulations dealing with Vocational Rehabilitation in California for injured workers. The firm I worked for represented injured workers. I went to a hearing and gave a copy of an alphabetical-by-subject index to an attorney for the employer. My index ran about 14 pages. The attorney told me it was great and I should sell it!

    I went home and added a lot of new material. My “booklet” grew to 24 pages. I took it to a “copy service” which printed 200 copies which I sold for $15/copy including sales tax and shipping if necessary.

    I took them to a seminar on “Rehabilitation of Injured Workers” and gave a copy to the foremost authority in California on the subject. He read it on a break, then held up a copy to the audience, summarized it, and announced every attorney in the state who handled Vocational Rehabilitation in California NEEDED copy! I sold bunches of “books” which were really “booklets.”

    I ended up selling out and reprinting 2 or 3 times before I came out with a new edition and continued for several years and then did an “Index” to all of Workers’ Comp Claims in California. It had 8 or 9 editions.

    My last edition of that book sold for $149 each, including sales tax and shipping. I printed 1,000 or so and after selling about half I put all the rights to the book up for sale to the high bidder.

    Three publishers of law books submitted bids and one attorney. Bidding was by mail and it took 2 – 3 months. I accepted the high bid, with payments spread out over 4 years. The book is still being published and sells for over $200/copy!

    Later I wrote a SciFi book and found a publisher, however, by that time I was retired. I did not do enough marketing and only had a handful of sales. I did get good recommendations and reviews from several well known authors, but, with the benefit of hindsight, now realize I should have worked harder, but by that time I was retired, living in northern California and just couldn’t bring myself to do it any more.

    – – Stew

    1. What a great story, Stew! Thank you. As for your sci fi book and the effort required to promote it…relax, you’re retired. You’re entitled to write just for the joy of it.


  14. For myself, I write to bring together all the disparate pieces of who I am. For others, I write to let them know they’re not alone in the disparate pieces of their own lives. Writing is the only way I can make sense and meaning–and not feel grumpy and disconnected from myself and others.

  15. I write because that’s who I am — a writer. It’s in the core of my being. I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was in the 4th grade. It’s my essence.

    1. That’s wonderful, Carol. It must come easily to you. What made you decide that when you were so young?

      (And I can relate. I wrote my first “book” in 7th grade.)


  16. Because I enjoy it. Because I have more ideas than I could ever develop in my lifetime. Because I dream in words. Because it organizes my thoughts and ideas and always surprises me. And when I read something I wrote, I am surprised I wrote it.

    1. Thanks, Theresa. Do you keep a notebook next to your bed so you can record some of those words when you wake up?


  17. Here is an excerpt from my book ‘The Writer’, written after a lot of thought. I might add that I have learned much from books, and been given many prompts to develop my thinking, and would like to return the favor.

    “Why do you write?”
    Alina’s question brought Roger’s thinking to a sudden stop. He had never considered the question. He had always wanted to write, as far back as he could remember. Thinking about it now, he realized that it was a valid question. Writing had brought him little pleasure over the years, and a lot of work, many late nights and an endless amount of frustration.
    “I’m not really sure,” he replied slowly. “I suppose it fulfills me. It gives me a sense that I am creating something from myself that will endure for years. Possibly because it allows me to escape from the everyday, into a more interesting space, where the rules that I have to live by don’t apply. Perhaps it gives me the chance to live out someone else’s life. I’m not really sure.”

  18. I write because I’m the only one who can tell the story of my characters who NEVER shut up in my mind! Their voices are my voice. My words are their words. As a present-day parable in Fantasy form, my 124,395-worded Novel is my first one published, but I’m working on Book 2 and have 5 more named. I’ve been working on this alternate dimensional world since 2008 and had my commissioned artist create characters visually so they can encourage me as I write or glare at me when I don’t. This is a multi-media project with my website, commissioned Anime-style artwork for 40 characters, my originally-written songs that I professionally recorded, and the story itself that I self-published since it seems that most industry reps can’t imagine a serious Anime look to characters, fighting with elemental and energy gifts against evil demons, and a Christian faith underlying all of it. All I can see are the people who WILL get it and want the entire series finished. “I won’t give up, I won’t give out, and I won’t give in!” Jaedin won’t let me… ~TCK ~

  19. I started writing in retirement, to fill time (or, maybe, to justify not doing the housework and weeding…).
    Now there’s never enough time.
    One thing I found early on – I sleep better when I’m writing

    1. Cathy, while I find weeding somewhat therapeutic (and an excuse to listen to an audiobook), I truly dislike housework, so writing is a much more appealing option. I love that you sleep better thanks to writing — I wish I could make that claim!


  20. I write so that I can share what I’ve learnt, in the hopes of making that journey of discover a little easier for the person who reads my books.

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