Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Why?

  • A need for self-expression?
  • Money?
  • An inflated sense of your own importance?
  • Fame?
  • Peer pressure?
  • To change to world?
  • Art for art's sake?
  • A need for attention?
  • To ease the pain?
  • For self-gratification?
  • To forget?
  • To remember?
  • It's better than working for a living?
  • Because it's important?
  • A need for acceptance?
  • Because you can't stop?

Why do you write?

Would you continue to write, if your career never got better than it is now?

Would you continue to write, if your career became worse than it is now?

72 comments:

pam said...

I'm writing to see if I can do it....actually finish a book, and because it's something I've always known I should and would do. Because when it goes well, it's a high of sorts, a real rush....followed by major doubts of course, often by the same bits of writing! Would I write anyway even if I never sold or sales start slipping? Yes, because I believe that eventually I will sell, if I make it happen. I'm only on my first book, so realistically, I know it might take more than one book to figure out what I'm doing, and have it work.

:) Pam

stay_c said...

I write because I can't stop. For as long as I can remember I've been writing something - a journal, a blog, stories in my head, stories on paper, poetry.

For me, it's therapy. If it goes somewhere, great. If not, it keeps me happy.

Nienke said...

When I don't write, I feel like I have to. When I sit to write, I feel like I shouldn't. Go figger.

Heather Brewer said...

Why do you write?

Because it's who I am, what I am.

Would you continue to write, if your career never got better than it is now?

Definitely.

Would you continue to write, if your career became worse than it is now?

Just try and stop me. ;)

E. Ann Bardawill said...

Why do I write?

I like to make people laugh.
I like to entertain.
I like to read what I wrote from twenty years back and know what was in my head back then.

It's also legal, way cheaper than crack, and if fortune smiles on me, I might get to make a living at it.

And the hours are good.

Mark Terry said...

Well, since I do it for a living now, for money. On the other hand, I woke up from a shitty dream last night where I had to go back to my old job working in a cytogenetics laboratory at Henry Ford Hospital, and if that isn't motivation enough, I don't know what is.

On the other hand, the hours are decent, the pay is reasonable, the commute is fantastic. I did it for years without pay, and I'm happier doing it for pay, but I assume I'd continue doing some of it without money (but for god sakes, don't let my publishers know that!)

Fiction, in particular, is my own personal mental trampoline, and I bounce on it quite regularly. I'm just happy to make money doing it. Go ahead, say it--"lucky bastard!"

Jeri said...

All of the above, plus it's a safe and legal outlet for my fantasy life.

M. G. Tarquini said...

I write because I have no choice. It's terrible. Sometimes I get eyestrain. And my glasses hurt the bridge of my nose. But...I'll suffer all I need to for my art.

DZ Allen said...

I write because I love it. I can’t help myself. Since all I have is rejection slips and no publishing credits I don’t see how my career could get any worse because I don’t have one…yet!

I love the creative process. It gets my juices flowing. I love the excitement of developing new people and seeing what the heck they have on their minds and what surprising things they are going to do as I type.

It’s the voyage of discovery, the creation of a new world, the satisfaction of completing something I started, the love of telling stories, and the sheer pleasure of the physical act of writing that does it for me. It’s cathartic, it’s better than meditation. I lose myself when I’m writing and for a while nothing else in the world matters except the words scrolling into view on my screen.

And it’s not because all this is new to me. I’ve written two novels that I won’t dare submit because they still have their training wheels on them. I’m half-way through my third novel and I think I’m on to something this time. I’ve learned and improved. And I give thanks to all the other fine writers out there, including the one who runs this blog, for giving me the best writing education a guy could ask for. I read therefore I learn to write. I have five short stories out in circulation now with a handful more set to ship this week.

It just gets better and better.

So, published or not, rich or not, I’ll keep writing because it’s who I am. Just like I’ll keep devouring all the stuff that you guys write, because reading is as big a part of my life as writing. (Four Pack of Jack was awesome by the way.)

I can’t imagine not writing. It’s who I am. It’s what I do.

Jude Hardin said...

Why?

I'll get back to you on that.

Right now I have a blank page that's begging to be filled with joy and sorrow, ecstacy and pain, love and hate, jealousy and indifference, forgiveness and revenge...

Hmm. Maybe I answered the question after all. I feel compelled, from an unknown source, to create a universe where it's possible for conflicts to be resolved, for good to prevail over evil, for wrongs to ultimately be made right through sacrifice.

And if I want to split a few infinitives along the way then, by golly, I will.

It's my universe, after all. :)

Anonymous said...

Why? To live a different life, in a different time and place. Who wants to be limited to a single life?

I sold. Now I'm not selling. I'm still writing.

Ann said...

I write because I want to. Because I decided to sit down and finally do it, and have found I don't want to stop.

I'd continue to write for better or worse, but if I decided to give up doing it as a potential career, I'd probably still write as a hobby.

But for now, I've found work I love doing, that I might even be kinda decent at, and it's possible to make a living doing it.

Sounds like a good deal to me!

Anonymous said...

Does God quit just because one of His plot lines go screwy? PLaying God is fun, why stop?

JLB said...

I think, therefore I write.

My writing is my art – my favorite among many preferred mediums through which to communicate my ideas. I write because I love to write, and because I couldn’t stop even if I tried. Writing has saved my life before, and it likely will again.

Regardless of where my career might take me, I will always write! My written works have yet to be published, but regardless of whether or not I am ever published, I will continue to write!

If I were to lose my fingers in some horrific accident, I’d start using voice-activated software and keep on going! If I were to die with my fingers on the keyboard, I’d be perfectly happy!

Stacey Cochran said...

I enjoy writing. It's a kind of escapism. I've found in the past few years that I enjoy doing the publicity and self-promotion stuff as well.

I like the rush of being the center of attention, that weird feeling that comes over a crowd when everybody's wondering if you're gonna say something really stupid - and then delivering. I love travelling and meeting new people.

I love public speaking.

A few weeks ago, I did publicity for a bookstore event in Sedona, Arizona, which consisted largely of handing out flyers to total strangers and chatting them up about anything and everything. I walked up and down the downtown streets for several hours for several days prior to the event.

I enjoyed the rush of fear leading up to doing this, and then the success of finding out that there's nothing to be scared about. Finding out that people are generally very gracious and kind and interested and polite.

I enjoy listening to other people. I think I've learned that to be a good writer, you really have to be a good listener. For the longest time, I think I thought to be a writer meant to talk, talk, talk, but I'm coming 'round to the realization that to be a writer, you really have to enjoy listening to other people.

That's my two cents worth on the morning's first cup of coffee.

Stacey

Rob said...

Why not?

Milady Insanity said...

I'm writing because I believe I can write a damn good book (eventually) and get it published (eventually).

If I lost that hope, I think I'd stop writing.

Bethany said...

ALL OF THE ABOVE?

The more critical question is Can I STOP writing? If no, than why not aspire to everything else on your list?

Bob Liparulo said...

Writing and the desire to write is as organic to me as breathing, eating, sleeping... I've been constructing stories since I was a little kid. I can't imagine NOT doing it. When I'm not banging out words on a keyboard, I'm formulating them in my head. I see life’s events through a writer's prism: a family gathering plays itself out as narrative in my mind, as clear as prose on the page. Uncle Albert isn't old, he's "a story that's been edited too much," "a parchment that's been through too many hands"... and the descriptions keep rolling until a new sight demands my attention.

I love creating worlds, playing God in a very small way. I love the process and I love having written. I love stretching my intellectual capabilities to find just the right word, the most evocative description, the perfect plot twist. I love the company of writers, people who think just a little differently from everyone else, who see the already-created with creative eyes, so to form new things from old. I love holding my book in my hand, seeing the printed words, the cover art, the words on the back cover and inside flaps that try to capture the essence of the story, but can't quite. I love talking about my stories and my craft. I love improving, and putting what I've create out there, for better or worse, for praise or ridicule.

In short, I was wired to do this. People are happiest doing what they were MEANT to do (whether you believe that or not). I was meant to write and I'm happy doing it, in good times and bad.

Carol Luce said...

I get to sit on my butt in my robe all day. :-)

Alison Kent said...

What Carol just said. And the fact that it means I don't have to keep any hours but the ones I want. Then there are those checks that keep coming. Pretty nice life.

HawkOwl said...

How about peer pressure? I started writing because everybody (parents, teachers, friends) kept telling me I should "be a writer" some day. Now I write because it's a cheaper hobby than reading. I don't want to make a "career", really, because it's not nearly as fun or as lucrative as trucking, but it's entertaining, and once you get going, it's easy to start thinking about getting published. Actually, it's often a lot more fun thinking about the plot synopses, the blurbs, the interviews with Oprah, and the cover art, than doing any actual writing.

Would I still write if my writing "career" didn't get any better? Or got worse? Yes, I would. Granting that I even have any kind of writing "career" to speak of. :lol:

That being said, ever since I started showing my writing to other people a little, I've been getting good feedback. So maybe it really will be a little more than a hobby some day. :)

Barbara W. Klaser said...

I attempt to write the book I want to read. That's the reason I started thinking up story ideas, years ago. It was a kind of angst that overcame me whenever I had trouble finding a book I wanted to read.

I doubt anyone remains a writer long out of self-importance. This business will slap that notion out of just about any size ego.

I'm also a right-brained introvert who communicates much better in writing than by talking. What else am I going to do?

jamie ford said...

This is like an American Idol question.

Why do you want to be the next American Idol?

--Because I want my voice heard.

Why?

--Because I think I've got one.

That works for me. Let's hope the first agent to find my book in their slush pile doesn't read it and think about William Hung singing "She Bangs".

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Hmmm. Let's see.

Self-expression?

Sure, why not.

Inflated sense of own importance?

We all do, or we wouldn't bother.

To change the world?

Ha. Maybe I should take up cartooning.

Art for art's sake?

Nope. Craft for craft's sake, maybe.

To ease the pain?

What pain?

For self-gratification?

Now you're getting personal.

To forget? To remember?

Forget what? -- I don't remember.

Better than working for a living?

BOY is it ever.

Because it's important?

Only to me and close relatives.

A need for acceptance?

When I figure out by whom, I'll let you know.

Because you can't stop?

There you go, getting personal again.

Truth is, it's something I discovered at a fairly early age that I'm pretty good at. And after years of working in an industry I felt uncomfortable in (TV/movies), I decided to finally sit down and write a novel.

I had such a great time doing it, I can't imagine ever wanting to do anything else.

Thank god they're willing to pay me.

emeraldcite said...

I like to lie.

James Lincoln Warren said...

I love to write. But frankly, I don't care why anybody writes, because it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with how well they write. I don't care why I write either. (Although I must say that getting a check is a big motivator both materially and psychologically.)

Storytelling is certainly a ubiquitous human activity, like dancing, singing, and drawing--but it's not like breathing, eating, and sleeping: you don't really need it to live. I love to write, but there a many things and life that are much higher priorities for me.

I feel sorry for anybody who writes "because it's who I am." I love to write, I'm good at it, I get paid for it--but I'd hate to be defined by it. I don't require my friends to read what I write, after all, and I hope they value me for other things than a facility for words.

Mark Terry said...

"I started writing because everybody (parents, teachers, friends) kept telling me I should "be a writer" some day."

Gee, Hawkowl, what did you do to piss them off?

Next life, hopefully they'll say, "You should go into business. I can see you as a multibillionarie CEO some day."

JA Konrath said...

Many good comments so far, but this on hit home: I'd hate to be defined by it.

I'm completely defined by it, to the point where it will be on my tombstone.

And I'm not sure if it bothers me or not...

PJ Parrish said...

Wore a hairnet and flipped burgers at Big Boys to put myself through school. I still have nightmares that this could all end and I'd be back there again. If I didn't do this, I'd have to go get a real job. Terror is a good cure for writers block.

JA Konrath said...

Terror is a good cure for writers block.

That is the mantra going through my head as I try to get 15k more words written by March 1.

Jeff said...

The truth in a nutshell? I've always enjoyed reading stories. Why not write some of my own? :)

Mark Terry said...

"If I didn't do this, I'd have to go get a real job. Terror is a good cure for writers block."

Harlan Coben, who one might think could probably comfortably retire on his income so far, said pretty much the same thing at Magna cum Murder this year. He also noted that he was pretty much incompetent to do anything else.

Jeff said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
JD Rhoades said...

I'm going to be seeing these stories in my head anyway. I might as well write them down and make a few bucks of them.

Jude Hardin said...

"I'd hate to be defined by it."

I think that's a good point, James.

If we take criticism and rejection personally, then we're in for a hurtful ride in this business (quite a bit of wood up the old yahoo, if you will).

If you write something that sucks, it doesn't mean YOU suck. It just means you need to try harder next time and learn from your mistakes.

Writing, like life, is a journey, a learning experience. The work isn't really WHO YOU ARE, it's merely the sum of what you've produced on a given day.

Some days are better than others.

Stacey Cochran said...

This is so completely frustrating. This article appeared on the front page of USA Today nationwide. It is the exact subject matter of my fifth novel Claws, which I have been shopping around since 2004, a suspense novel whose themes are vanishing wilderness in the American West, real estate encroachment into wilderness areas, and wildlife management of mountain lion populations. That's my novel!

It's subject is the exact story in the USA Today piece.

What do you do with that?

Stacey

Jude Hardin said...

Stacey,

I don't think the news article would hurt your novel's chances. In fact, it might actually help. If it's a hot news topic, then fictional accounts are sure to follow. Maybe yours will be first.

You might want to contact Mr. Welch. Sounds like you guys would have a lot to talk about. He might even be able to guide you toward an agent.

Good luck.

Brett Battles said...

I write because it's the best high I've ever had, and not writing just doesn't make sense.

chidder said...

Rather than post my comments here, I did so on my own blog, thus contributing some column inches to my own otherwise sparse space on the Internet. Blame it on shameless self-promotion.

James Goodman said...

I write because it makes me happy...sad...angry, take your pick.

I write to purge the demons.

It is much safer to choke the daylights out of somebody on paper than in a boardroom.

I write because I can't imagine not writing.

If I never sell another piece, will continue to write.

Writing has become a part of who I am.

Jude Hardin said...

Stacey,

I just remembered, something similar happened to me while I was writing my first novel. In the inciting incident, my protagonist finds a human finger in a can of dog food. I thought this was an original and shocking revelation until, while polishing the final draft, I heard a news story about someone finding a finger in a bowl of Wendy's chili. A month later someone found a finger in some frozen custard. There went the shock value of my beginning! But you can always turn lemons into lemonade. I ended up including the news stories in my narrative, and my protag's first thought is that the finger is probably from an industrial accident. Then, on closer inspection, she sees another body part in the brown goop oozing from the can.

Foul play? You bet.

The moral of the story: If you find a severed finger in a can of dog food, make lemonade.

Dana Y. T. Lin said...

I write to meet my demons head-on, then to see who'll break a sweat first.

William G. said...

I write because it's just what I do.

There's some awesome answers to that age-old question here.

HawkOwl said...

I like "I attempt to write the book I want to read." I do that too. Bad books actually motivate me to write more than good books.

Mike H said...

Time for my £0.02.

I can't remember not writing. Like many here, I appear hard-wired to do it and that hasn't always been a pleasant thing.

When I wasn't as determined and dedicated as I am now, I would go through long periods of not writing. During these times I always felt guilty and not quite myself. Now that I write every day (okay, you caught me; but I do try to) I feel much better, thank you.

Originally, I was going to post a smart-ass answer such as, "To stop the voices" or some other sophomoric bit of wit, but when you think about it, that is the reason.

Lynn Raye Harris said...

I definitely write for my own inflated sense of importance.

::snort::

NOT!

Since I was a child, I went to bed playing scenes in my head. It was like a movie, but of my own design. I had the characters, usually ME in a much better role, and the cast of others, including the HOT boyfriend (yes, even at 8, I was thinking about that). When I did this as an adult, I thought it was an idiosyncracy it was best not to tell anyone about. :)

It took me a few years to realize that, HEY, DUMBASS, you ought to write this stuff down.

I wrote as a kid, got compliments and accusations of plagiarism (no kid could write this), and intended to write the GAN when I was 20-something.

If my career goes nowhere, I will continue to write, whether it's in my head as I go to bed or typed onto the screen. The stories won't go away. :) It's definitely not for the money and fame.

JA Konrath said...

I'm sensing a theme.

The more we learn about genetics, the more we learn about how much it plays a part in who we are.

Disease, obesity, intelligence, sexual preference, capactiy to love, capacity for criminal behavior--all pre-determined.

I believe there's a story-telling genre.

Margaret Evans Porter said...

Why?

Because I feel compelled to do it. Been doing it so long, I hardly seem to have a choice about it any longer.

As well, it's practically the only thing I'm qualified to do that I really want to do. (Note that I didn't say I "like" doing it. Because I don't always.)

Great question. Love reading all the interesting answers!

R.J. Baker said...

...because I have to.

SAND STORM said...

Its easier than doing Heroin except you have to convince your friends that the blue viens and tracks on your arms are done with ink.

SAND STORM said...

ah that would be "veins" gawd I am a writer.

Dana Diamond said...

I write because I can't stop.

What I'm curious to know is why anyone publishes.

I'm not knocking it, I'm just curious.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

I write because if I don't my head will explode!!!! Not literally...well sometimes I think literally!

But I only have so much room in my head, so I need to express the ideas on paper to get them out and make room for more.

It wouldn't matter if I never went further, I'd still write!

Bob Liparulo said...

Tony Morrison said, "If there is a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it."

Bob Liparulo said...

Sorry, I meant "Toni Morrison" with an "i" (I have too many "Tony's" in my family).

Erik Ivan James said...

I write because there are stories I want to share. And, hopefully some publisher will share money in return.

Mark Terry said...

"Disease, obesity, intelligence, sexual preference, capactiy to love, capacity for criminal behavior--all pre-determined.

I believe there's a story-telling genre."

I guess you mean gene, not genre.

In the psychological field of memory, there is a concept called "narrative memory," which is one way we remember things, via their involvement in a stream of events and context, so yes, storytelling and stories may just be an aspect of our physiology. I suspect it is.

I also wonder if a psychologist were to read all these posts of people saying "they have to write" or "they are compelled to write" wouldn't begin to wonder about the high percentage of Joe's bloggers having a obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Folklore Fanatic said...

Come wrack or ruin!

Along with everything else in that vein.

I was writing stories before I consciously acknowledged that I was writing for fun, way back at the age of five or six. We never had enough writing assignments in kindergarten, so I would make up my own on the blackboard in our basement at home.

I think I would *have* to write, even if someone offered to pay me NOT to.

James Lincoln Warren said...

I know a lot of writers with OCD. I'm one of them -- about half the people in my extended family suffer from it. But you can have OCD without being a writer.

My experience with my own mild OCD is that it interferes with my creativity, but not with my productivity.

lyfe said...

I just created my blog today on why I want to write and saw your link elsewhere, wow, if this wasn't for me I don't know where I would be.

Why I want to write:

I want to write mainly to entertain others through my written words. I want people to feel the depths of my characters emotions, their plight in life, and as well as to feel and relate to my characters of different levels of emotions, from the shedding of tears to pure joy of happiness, fire and desire, intense rage, to the spiritual aspect of one's soul.

Shelley Halima said...

I had been hearing the call to write for years but it was a call I ignored for a long time. Why? Out of fear that once I put pen to paper I would find out it wasn't meant to be. Now that I'm writing there's no going back. This is a part of me and I am absolutely defined by it. Like you, I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not but it is what it is. I can't envision my life NOT writing.

Stacey Cochran said...

I forgot "fame, money, and a self-destructive addiction for total global domination."

Aside from that, though, it's mostly just a love of poetic language.

Bestselling Author, Pontif. said...

I write because it's fun. Anything you want can become reality on that blank page. Anything.

Stacey Cochran said...

Ever the writer, I'd like to revise my phrase "self-destructive addiction for total global domination" to "self-destructive lust for total global domination."

Has more poetic resonance.

Jude Hardin said...

Ever the editor, I would delete "total." "Self-destructive lust for global domination" expresses your thought without the borderline redundancy.

Jude Hardin said...

In 1979, when I was 19, I had the great fortune of spending some time with Pulitzer Award winning poet Maxine Kumin. I had a copy of her collection UP COUNTRY, and was young and stupid and naive enough to ask her how much money one could expect from publishing such a collection. She turned to me and said, rather sternly, "You don't do it for money. You do it because you love it." Those words have stuck with me all these years.

She's right, you know.

There's really no other reason that makes any sense.

You do it because you love it.

If you're looking for fortune and fame (or if you have a lust for global domination), you're better off going into another profession. Most writers don't earn enough money to feed their cats.

Do it because you love it, or give it up. Otherwise, you're probably going to be very disappointed.

That said, I do expect to earn a living from writing some day. I love it, and I expect to be one of the lucky ones.

Will I continue to write if I never get published?

Sure.

Won't you?

Stephen D. Rogers said...

James Lincoln Warren said, "I'd hate to be defined by it."

From second-grade on, "writer" has been my defining description. I can't imagine life any other way.

Allison Brennan said...

I write because I love telling stories and I want to entertain or scare people.

I would do it if my career never got past this point, and I would write if my career plummeted and I couldn't sell another book. I've always written, even before I got serious about it. It's part of what makes me, me.

DZ Allen said...

James Lincoln Warren said, "I'd hate to be defined by it."

But…If you go to his website the first thing you see is

James Lincoln Warren

WRITER

Looks like a definition to me…

And in my opinion there’s nothing wrong with that! Why not define yourself as a writer? I don’t think any of us are one dimensional enough to think that we are ONLY writers. We are husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, and loving human beings. Writing is what we do and a lot of folks define themselves by saying what they do. I’m a doctor, I’m a lawyer, I’m a teacher. When someone says that I don’t feel sorry for them. If they’re proud of it, then I say, “Good for you!” I’m happy they found something that they love to do and think well enough of the profession to define themselves by it.

Hello. My name is DZ and I’m a writer. No need to feel sorry for me.

Jude Hardin said...

Many people do allow themselves to be defined by their careers, and I think it's a shame.

Was Hemingway one-dimensional? When he lost the capacity to write, he blew his own brains out with a shotgun. That's how much he allowed himself to be defined by his career. When it was over, he was over. Didn't he realize that people still loved him? Couldn't he have sat on the porch with a whiskey and soda and watched one more sunset?

Careers come and go. Define yourself by how much you love, and how much love you get in return. Otherwise, the shotgun might be right behind the Prozac bottle.

HawkOwl said...

Jude, I think we're straying from Joe's point, but I'll still say that defining ourselves by how much we love and are loved has every bit as much potential to be destructive as defining ourselves by our careers. I think we are defined by our abilities and our principles. I like to define myself as a trucker and a Girl Guide. That pretty much says most of what needs to be said about me.

And Mark Terry, thanks for the well wishes for the next life. I hope in the next life, somebody tells me "you can be whatever you want to be" and not "you should be a writer" and "no you can't learn a trade." Interesting comment about the psychologist's view. I always find it disturbing myself when people say they "have to" write. But I suppose that's a better thing to "have to" do than, say, raping and eating people.