Why do I write?

Writing samples: Parker 75
Image by churl via Flickr

Today, in the midst of planning the newest idea and doing the basic development of it, my daughter asks me, “What are you writing?”  So I tell her, a new book idea.  She looks up at me and asks, “Why?”

The only answer I could give her was that I have to.  I mean, it’s like asking why the Universe was created from a religious stand point.  We each have different answers depending on our beliefs.  In that same way, we each have different reasons why we write.  Some write out of compulsion, others write because they enjoy the process and I’m sure there are many more reasons out there.  (Would love to hear them in fact).

For me, it’s the lure of creation.  Of pulling together a world, or events within our world, that make this hum drum life into something fantastic.  But I have come to realize that it is much more than that to me personally.  Recently, I started reading my old journals and in doing so I noticed a trend.  When I write, I’m happier, in balance so to speak.  I become energized in such a way that it literally filters down throughout all that I do from cooking to cleaning.  I get a bounce in my step, I’m whistling tunes, singing songs and happen to be in better humor.

When  I don’t write, the exact opposite happens.  I get drained, feel lost, and in general become a bit waspish and irritable.

Realizing this, the logical answer should be, don’t stop writing.  But that leads me to the other thing that I noticed.  Writing just for the sake of putting words down on the paper does not equal the same thing.  I can write journal entries, essays (which reminds me, I have one due this week), fan fiction and a myriad of other inconsistent projects that take very little time and still have the same symptoms as when I don’t write.  With those observations I must conclude that it’s not just the act of putting words down on the paper that fills me up with enthusiasm.  On the contrary, I’m starting to believe that it’s also the rush, the all encompassing need to hammer out the details, to craft together a piece of writing that not only captures my interest, but makes me want to write more on it.  To be stuck inside the head of a character and ask, “What would he do in this situation?”  To make up possibilities and bring them to a conclusion.

But why do I write?  The answer is still elusive despite finding clues to what writing does for me as an individual.  Sure, I know that it makes me happier, that it inspires me to do better in everything.  But why?

I doubt I’ll ever know the full answer.  I can single out all the various clues that my subconscious drops to point me in the right direction, but it doesn’t explain the flow of adrenaline when I come up with the answer to a question that I didn’t even realize was plaguing me.  As I craft more and more about Ancient Magic in my writing journal, I know that it is inevitable that I’ll begin to dream about it, to talk it through, and I also know that as I near the end of this process, I’ll not only sigh in relief, but I’ll also feel something akin to pain until I find the next big project.

Perhaps “why write” isn’t the right question that I need to be asking.  Maybe what I need to ask myself is: “why does writing consume me?”


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