Ah yes, the question of all questions – Why do I write? Why do I bother? Why do I keep sitting my butt down, again and again, to hit my laptop’s worn off keys, curse a lot and pull my own hair out? Why do I do NaNoWriMo – a writing challenge where you try to somehow produce 50k words in 30 days like a madman -, why do I keep trying to finish this novel, why do I scream into the void, a.k.a. write blog post after blog post?
Today I’m trying to answer this both complicated and simple question, admittedly partly as motivational tool for my future self to come back to when I forget why I’m doing this to myself. I hope it can help you in the same way.
It’s my form of self-care.
I only started keeping a regular journal early this year, but even before that, writing has always been my way of making sense of my thoughts and feelings. Every time I’m overwhelmed with something, every time I’m in a fight with somebody and need to sort out how to act, every time I’m despaired about my future: I write it out.
Writing is my natural response to crises and so far, it’s always helped me handle them.
Because “writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.”
This quote by Gloria Steinem says it perfectly. No matter what I’m doing, there’s always a voice in the back of my head telling me that I should be writing, and it only shuts up once I’m doing it. I suck at listening to it, though, so it can be disorientating when I do get a lot of writing done for once. It’s strange not to feel like I should be doing something else. In a way it feels like I’ve lost my purpose. I should really try to write enough that I get used to it, I know. I’m working on it.
It’s my natural way of being creative.
I believe every person needs some form of creative outlet in their life. It can be anything from gardening, doodling, decorating, wearing nice clothes or playing an instrument, to – you guessed it – writing. It’s natural for humans to want to create and while I also draw and play instruments, writing is what comes most naturally to me when I need to create.
The alternative would be worse.
A big part of the answer to this question is that, honestly, I do not have a choice. There are many ways I could imagine myself living someday, and every one of them either includes me writing in some way or form or me regretting that I’m not writing in some way or form.
There’s a quote from Stephen King’s On Writing (aka my bible) that frightened the hell out of me the first time I read it because of how of how much I can relate:
I could see myself thirty years on, wearing the same shabby tweed coats with patches on the elbows […] and in my desk drawer, six or seven unfinished manuscripts which I would take out from time to time, usually when drunk. If asked what I did in my spare time, I’d tell people I was writing a book – what else does any self-respecting creative-writing teacher do with his or her spare time? And of course I’d lie to myself, telling myself there was still time, it wasn’t too late, there were novelists who didn’t get started until they were fifty, hell, even sixty. Probably plenty of them.
I’m terrified of ending up that way, simply because I can actually see it happening. But I’m not going to let it, and that’s why I am writing.
Why are you writing? Do you, too, sometimes have trouble remembering why you’re doing this? What do you want to achieve with what you’re doing? Do you have other important creative outlets in your life? Let’s talk about it in the comments!