8 comments on “Why Do We Write?

  1. I read so much and I have often found that I’ve read something and thought ‘I could have done it better than that’. That sounds so arrogant but I think you have to have an element of arrogance or you wouldn’t be able to do it.

    I write the things that I would want to read. I write to express myself. Sometimes I have to write something down just to get it out of my head. Mostly the reason I write is because I feel like if I don’t write something then I’ll lose it and I’m a control freak and don’t want to lose anything!

  2. Very good question, Gary. I think Orwell, in the essay ‘Why I Write’, said it was a weird combination of ego, the desire to make money, and the childish pleasure in making things up, combined, in his case, with a kind of missionary zeal to get certain issues raised in a public sphere.
    Nobel-winning Nana Doris Lessing apparently said that the point of writers was to “cheer the buggers up”, or something along those lines.
    Me? I’ve been writing since I was about 8, and apart from a bizarre talent at putting together flatpack furniture, and an inate, almost genetically ingrained understanding of the London Underground, it’s the only thing I’m good at. I do it to entertain myself, primarily, I think, and then to entertain others. I enjoy “making stuff up”, and maybe there’s a certain god-like thing going on there, but nothing makes me happier than hearing somebody laugh, gasp, or let out a little squeal of excitement when they’re reading something I’ve written.
    I’ve just written a very rough first draft of a novel in a little under 3 weeks, a gruelling task and one which has given me sleepless nights and a diet that would horrify Gillian McKeith, but I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t enjoyed every minute of it!

  3. Not arrogant at all, Josie…. Well, actually, yes, it is! But that “I can do better” attitude certainly propelled me into action when I first started writing novels, too. I was wrong of course — at least initially. It took a good three or four years of effort before I could truthfully make that claim. (Incidentally, the book that prompted the reaction was a horror novel by Robert R. McCammon called The Night Boat.)

  4. Yes, I can also relate to your comment about writing being the only thing (with those two rather impressive exceptions, I might add!) that you’re good at David. After a few years of struggling to “find my voice(s)”, I suppose I pretty much decided that I’d stick at it come hell or high water — because I was the best (only) novelist in my road, it was easy to do sitting down (a plus, what with the wheelchair an’ all ;-)) and, yes, it was fun… hard work, but fun.

  5. You should read Orwell’s essay “Why I Write” – He highlights 4 main reasons: 1: Sheer egoism, 2: Aesthetic ehntusiasm, 3: Historical Impulse and 4: Political Purpose. I think I probably have all of them, in the order of 4, 3, 1, 2. Or maybe 1 is the reason for the rest of them! It’s a great essay – if you haven’t read it get a copy. He’s my favourite essayist! (And he hadn’t read all of these wafty windy philosophers I have to read either, which gives me hope!)

  6. I don’t know if I really “write” as I have never tried to have anything published, but when I do put a pen to paper it is because I have imagined some people with interesting personalities/quirks/habits that I want others to know about.
    I think often people call others “boring” just because they don’t know better and I want to prove to myself that everyone has something worth writing down about them.
    (That sounds so lame, but do you know what I mean?)

  7. I know exactly what you mean, PopScience. Not in the least bit lame. We all have intenal landscapes that are far more interesting that external appearance sometimes suggests. Excellent point.

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