Why do I write?

I suppose this is a question that all writers must ask.  It may sound rather simple but I think that it contains the answer to a deeper question: What drives you to write?  If it is fame or money…sadly, you are in the wrong profession.  Tolkiens, Orson Scott Cards, and Rowlings are few and far between.  But I think that every writer should at least aspire to be like their favorite and greatest authors. I am not here to telling what should be your motivator for writing, I just know that there are better ways at becoming famous or rich.

For me, I write because I have a story or stories or maybe it is just the desire to say something important and the only thing that comes out is a series of words that form a strange mixture of myth and reality which can only be understood through narration.  That being said, I suppose,  I struggle with my rationale for writing.  Because, for me, writing is a need and I am not good at it.  My grammar is dreadful, my spelling is appalling, and I have this amazing ability to not write what I mean and read what is not written on the page.  But you say,  “I am an English Major!”  I know, you tell me about the irony of this!  I have lived with it my whole life.

But I need to tell stories.  Stories are like…what is a good analogy?  It is not so much as an itch that must be scratched but like breath to a drowning man or a glimpse of color to a blind man.  And even that analogy only explains my inspiration for stories but not the need to tell them.  When I was little, my mom said that I would circle all my toys around me and for hours I would sit there babbling to them telling them stories. When I got a little older and I had chores and other responsibilities, I could not got five minutes with telling a story to accompany me in my task. Now that I am not a child, instead of vocalizing the stories, which I am sure–though amusing to everyone else–would just be creepy, I write them down.

I do not understand this compulsion and I wonder if other writers experience this same sort of craving. I often times wonder if I understood it, would I actually finish a story or would I just go mad from the sheer force of that understanding.  I do not think that my need to tell a story makes me a better writer, it just means I write regardless of my skill and I pray that my friends will be honest and tell me if the story is crap or actually worth saving.  But I do think that some of the best stories I have read have a need to be told.  I think of Lewis’s Till We Have Faces, that was a story that he tried to write several times in his life and it was only near the end that he finally was able to create the story he had been wanting, needing, to tell.   What drives us to write?  Is it that story that story you have been longing to tell?  The character that needs an adventure?  A a world that needs a language, a myth, a history?

So brave readers and writers, I ask you to consider the question: why do you write?


About LizzyBeth

There is a Story inside of me that I must give a voice. I write so that imagination can take me to Faerie and I can catch a glimpse of the Otherworld and hopefully so will you.

Posted on April 15, 2011, in C. S. Lewis, Fantasy, Grammar, Inspiration, J. K. Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkien, Orson Scott Card, Rachel Burkholder, Story, Writing Hints and Helps and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I write because I have pen and paper, or a keyboard, where letters combine to make words and fill pages. Why does a mountain climber ascend to the heights of the earth, or a spelunker descend to the depths? Are we searching for something within us, something that only blood, sweat and tears can fathom?

  2. Because our own life isn’t enough. We want to live all those that appear in our mind, explore and feel them, even if just for the duration aof a story

  3. I think it’s somewhat Quixotic for me, but with an extra level of meta: Quixote read the stories of the knights and sought to imitate them. I read the stories of Don Quixote, Frodo, and others, and seek to imitate their creators.

  4. It’s all in Tolkien (the essay “On Fairie Stories”). “We make still by the law in which we’re made.” We have as central to our humanity the drive to create because we were made in the image of the Creator. Each person will have a different medium: wood, stone, pigment, sound, words, numbers, theories. But as carpenters, sculptors, musicians, poets/writers, business people, or scientists, we all are driven to create something. Blessed are they who know themselves well enough to have found their medium; blessed indeed those who have found an audience, however small. Until we do, something essential to our full humanity will go unfulfilled.

    It’s also in Mere Humanity: G. K. Chesterton, C. S. Lewis, and J. R. R. Tolkien on the Human Condition (Nashville: Broadman, 2006). I’ll have some copies with me when I visit Lynchburg if anyone is so benighted as to be without one. 😉

    What do they teach in those schools?

  5. For me, it comes down to a need for expression.

    It’s the same reason I learned to play guitar and focused on Communications in college. I feel this overwhelming need to express my thoughts and feelings, as well as shine a light on the world as I see it. Even in school, I was happy to have essay questions because I was able to express my thoughts on the subject instead of blindly answer questions.

    To me, writing is the one form of expression left that can be done anywhere, anytime.

  6. Oh yes, the yearning is there for us all–just HAVE to find the right place and manner of expression.
    I can also identify with you in the comment about about not being understood. SOOOO frustrating when you feel you have written/said very clearly and completely what you want written or said and others misinterpret it!!!!!!!
    AND thank you, thank you, thank you for spell checker!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Great post! 🙂 I can really sympathise with this.
    I write because I need to. I have characters and stories in my head and always have had. I can’t help it. I’ve tried other creative outlets (such as drawing), but writing is the best way for me.

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