Why Do We Write?

Ask writing students why they write and you’ll usually arrive at a common spread of answers.

Think about it yourself. If you’re reading this blog because you’ve decided to write for a living, what made you choose this path?

Says author David Morrell, in his excellent how to write book, “The Successful novelist” (David of course, is the brains behind Rambo or “First Blood” as the franchise was known before it became a big screen series), there’s typically three responses:

  • Money
  • Fame
  • Recognition

You know, I went through this exercise and I admit getting it partially wrong—and I’ve been doing this for a while.

So which of the above is correct? Ah, they’re all wrong, wrong, wrong.

Money is scarce unless you’re prolific, lucky and never give up (or sadly, these days, a serf to quick-fix Internet content). Fame is a misnomer: yes, the romantic in me craves it for sure but as an example, look at JK Rowling. Where’s her approved biography? No, fame is fleeting, fame can be a pain. Ask Stephen Fry and his relationship with it on social media. Recognition? Well, that’s nice. I do like that one. But is this why I write? For someone to say hi to me? Man, I took therapy to work that one out.

No the reason why you and me write is more primitive than that:

It’s because we have to.

We just have to tell stories; we simply can’t keep them inside. It will literally (no pun) kill us. We’d curl up and expire. That’s the physical pressure pushing at us from within. It’s visceral. We must spin yarns, we need to describe our thoughts. We’re born to transmit our inner messages in the hope of touching someone else.

So for those of us who can’t stop thinking about words, word plays, syntax, ideas, genres, opinions I believe it’s a gift more valuable than diamonds.

I sat down today pledging not to write anything official. I’ve already sent an article off for publication and composed this, all in three hours.

For this reason, I’d like to go a step further here next time and explore something I encountered recently for the first and hopefully last time. Because it scared the crap out of me.

Writer’s block. What in hell’s name is it? What can we do to fight back?

At local bookstores: Morrell, D. 2008. The Successful Novelist: A Lifetime of Lessons About Writing and Publishing. Sourcebooks, Illinois.

© 2016 Adam Parker.