Why Do You Write?

I teach at Young Authors Conferences every year, and always open with the question: “Why do you write?”

As I anticipate the reopening of UOT in YowNow, and resuming my Fiction Writing classes, I began musing that question, since I will be asking it of my online students.

So I thought I’d share it here.

Aspirations of getting published, getting that huge advance, being rich (and don’t forget famous!) are nice, but if they’re the reason you write, you’re on the wrong road. It’s hard work, and if you haven’t got passion, discouragement and disillusionment will catch up with you fast.

Publication is a logical goal for writers, but perhaps not for all. You can write just for fun – for your own personal satisfaction or to share with a few friends, as a way to relieve stress, for a project (such as plays for a local theatre group) or online (machinima anyone?) – there are many ways to write without the end result being “published.”

But whether you wish to be published or not, if you are a writer, you write because you must. Because the voices of the characters in your head make you. Because when you drive down the road, or are in the shower, or some other odd place, characters and plots zap into your brain and won’t leave you alone until you write them down. You couldn’t quit if you tried (and perhaps you have tried). You just can’t not write.

So now tell me: why do you write?

And what are your goals?


3 thoughts on “Why Do You Write?

  1. A quote from Alexander Pope comes to mind:

    “Why do I write? What sin to me unknown
    Dipt me in ink? My parents’ or my own?”

    Because that compulsion can sometimes feel like it’s got a life of its own, can’t it? *sigh*


  2. Jane – yes, it often does feel like it’s got a life of its own, often at the usurping of ours if we’re not careful!

    George – I don’t always assume fiction, but since my column and my writing class center on fiction, that is my focus. 🙂


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