Why Do Writers Write?

The short answer: If writing is in your blood—your chemistry—there is no cure… only acceptance, deliverance, and development.

Writing, learning to write, is like growing up: some things become different, some things get better… and yes, some things will get worse. In my opinionated experience, the worse bit is the loss of reader ‘innocence’—the inability to ever read another book through the eyes of an average non-writing reader. This loss reminds me of a passage from Mark Twain’s (Samuel Clemens) autobiographical narrative, Life on the Mississippi (1883):

Now when I had mastered the language of this water and had come to know every trifling feature that bordered the great river as familiarly as I knew the letters of the alphabet, I had made a valuable acquisition. But I had lost something, too. I had lost something which could never be restored to me while I lived. All the grace, the beauty, the poetry, had gone out of the majestic river!

His ‘valuable acquisition’ of educated knowledge came at the cost of losing the ability to see the river through blissfully ignorant eyes that could only see its surface beauty. Still, knowledge is valuable and he understood that. So do I, and so should every writer… just try not to forget what the river looked like before!


The long answer: You know you’re a writer if not writing can almost seem to feel like physical pain. Without a doubt, not writing can affect mood. For those in doubt, try not writing something new for a while and let me know how that’s working out for you. For me? When too long a stretch of non-creative-writing occurs for whatever reason—I’m editing something previously written, life happens (people demanding my time and attention), or I’m working on this website—I start turning into this guy:

Then what happens is: People stop demanding (wanting) my time and attention, this website becomes a loathsome chore like scrubbing a toilet, and editing old stuff ceases to bring me solace. If any of this happens to you, then you’re a writer – a word chef who is happiest in the ‘kitchen’ creating story entrées extraordinaire!

The thrill? Writing new scenes, new characters, fresh faces, names, and places… developing them and getting to know them—tentative creation at first (the implosion); then building the structure on this familiar foundation until you reach the climax of intimate and infinite creation (the explosion). Yes, sometimes writing is like an orgasm. For others, it’s like being a god, or a little like being, The God.

Someone once said to me, “Everyone has at least one good story inside ’em.”

Don’t worry yourself with whether or not your ‘good story’ is genius. If you don’t write it, it won’t get written. Don’t let a day go by that you didn’t write something. It doesn’t have to be profound, in sequence, or even relevant. Some days it may only be a sentence, a paragraph, or two lines of quirky dialogue that came to you while driving to wherever. Other days—often when you didn’t expect it—you might produce several pages or chapters. The point is, you can’t edit, add to, or share what isn’t there.

Wolf’s Den of Balderdash
%d bloggers like this: