Why I write

Greek muse
It doesn’t matter whose muse is the prettiest.

Hang out in writer circles on this interweb thing for long enough and you’ll hear all the classic reasons people write. Because they’re bursting with stories that are screaming to be told, because they have something to say to the world, because writing keeps them sane in insane times.

Reading these reasons, it’s easy to feel inadequate.

If I don’t write for the same reasons does it mean I’m not a real writer? I’m not filled with stories wriggling inside me like intestinal worms. Does that mean I’m just making stuff up?

I like to think it’s the writing that counts, not the reasons behind it. If you write a stunning story that people love it doesn’t matter if it was driven by a stormy-eyed muse in a flowing chiton or by industrial quantities of coffee and a hard chair.

It matters only how much you enjoy the writing and how much your readers enjoy the reading.

So let me first explain three reasons that are not why I write.

Things that are not reasons why I write

1. The stories inside me are gnawing their way out

I’ve been alive for a while and I’ve done stuff, so you could say I have stories inside me. But none of them are stories that should be written. They’re badly plotted, full of coincidence and unsatisfying endings, and stuffed to the brim with self-indulgent rumination that’s as dull as swamp water.

And don’t even get me started on the characters.

The untold stories inside me aren’t clamouring to get out. Even if I walk away from writing for a week or a month, they don’t multiply inside me until they rip out of my chest like Alien spawn.

They’re sleeping inside me, and that’s exactly where they’re going to stay.

2. The world must hear my message

It’s wonderful if you have a message, so long as it doesn’t eclipse the story.

Unlike many writers, I don’t have a message that I’m burning to share with the world. I’m not struggling to overcome deep trauma or inner porcupines or to right a social wrong.

The book I’m working on isn’t a thinly veiled autobiography (thank goodness, because that would be terribly dull).

I don’t start writing a story hoping to convey a world-changing truth–like smoking is bad, more people should worship hedgehogs, or we need to wake up to the fact dolphins are our masters.

But I do have beliefs about how the world is and how it should be, and I expect some of them will slither their way into my writing as my subconscious works. I hope that will be enough.

3. Writing keeps my insanity at bay

If this works for you, great. Personally, exercise does more for my mental state than writing does.

Besides, sanity is overrated.

 

So if these aren’t the reasons I write, what are the reasons?

Why I write

1. To experience being someone else

What do a spy, an actor, and a reader have in common? They all get to be someone else.

I’d make a terrible spy because I suck at lying and I can’t act to save my kindle, but I’m pretty darn good at reading. I know all the letters and I can read most words without sounding them out. Not only am I good at reading, I also enjoy it.

My favourite books are ones that transport me. I am the main character. I get to live his life, experience the wonders of his world, and overcome the challenges he conquers. His triumphs are my triumphs.

I get all the fear, excitement, and joy and none of the dangers.

This is probably why I like fantasy. If you’re going to live someone else’s life, why not make it a fantastical one? Fight in a battle, perform magic, and soar on a dragon.

Writing gives me the same, only more. I get to create the characters from nothing, journey with them for longer, and see more deeply into their souls.

Why I write - None of the risk
Writing gives you all the excitement and none of the risk.

2. To worship beautiful prose

The only thing more satisfying than reading a gorgeous piece of prose is writing one. And possibly reading it again, having written it.

Sure, more of my writing is ugly than beautiful, but when I do come up with an evocative sentence it gives me chills, and with every revision less of my writing becomes terrible and more becomes good.

3. Writing is fun

At the end of the day, I have fun writing. Isn’t that reason enough?

 

Of course, I hope my writing will transport other people, and I try to edit with the reader in mind, but first I write for my own enjoyment.

Does it matter why someone writes? If you write, why do you do it?

 

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Author: A.S. Akkalon

By day, A.S. Akkalon works in an office where the computers outnumber the suits of armour more than two-to-one. By night, she puts dreams of medieval castles, swords, and dragons onto paper.

16 thoughts on “Why I write”

  1. Nice post. I’m with you. My first book was a bit of an aberration in the “why I write” category as I was dazzled by the whole process. But since then, it’s just for the love of it and the joy it gives me. That’s plenty 🙂

  2. Oh, love the reasoning on both sides of the question. I think I’m in the same boat. I do come up with stories that seem to want to be told, but it’s not really a clawing or bursting kind of thing. But I’ve felt the same way – does that make me less of a writer? I think the answer is no, it doesn’t.

    I write because creating my own little world is fun.

  3. Definitely because it’s fun! I also find it’s almost as good as exercise to keep me sane, and is a wonderful form of escapism, but the flip side of that is that sometimes it’s the writing itself that’s stressing me out…

  4. Another great post.

    Number 3 on the list of why you write is a powerful one. Writing for fun is something that will lead to success every time.

    If you enjoy your work, your readers will!

  5. I agree with the others here, writing because it’s fun is the best reason to write. Not that writing is always fun for me…it’s slow, it’s hard, it’s frustrating, and I’m awfully prone to writer’s block. But then there are these moments when I manage to solve a difficult scene or come up with a new story idea or learn some new skill and then I’m just writing/rewriting/editing for hours and don’t want to stop. I’m addicted to that feeling.

    Actually I’ve been stuck in my creative cave for the past week or so because I’ve been editing my WIP like a nutter. I’m happy with how it’s coming along. I hope your WIP is coming along smoothly, too! 🙂

    1. Yes, that feeling is the best!

      It’s awesome to hear your WIP is coming along well. My editing is flying right now. This edit I’m just trying to make one big change: making sure the MC always has a goal related to main plotline, and the evolution of the goal makes sense given what she knows and what external events happen. I feel like it’s really coming together, which is very exciting.

  6. I like a lot of what you said in this post, but I think my favorite line was about reading: “I get all the fear, excitement, and joy and none of the dangers.” Haha! I’m the exact same, though I never realize it 😀

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