Why I want to write

15 May

I was moaning to a friend about my (lack of) writing progress and she suddenly stopped me and posed the simple yet incredibly revealing question: ‘Why do you want to write?’ 

I was rather taken aback and shocked that I had no immediate response on the tip of my tongue.  Surely if I really wanted to write, I would be able to express why I want to with the least provocation?  In the past, I’ve probably batted away similar enquiries with the same vague digressions on how I enjoy creative writing, how I was relatively good at it at school and how I like reading. Bland, formulaic responses.  Sure – I do enjoy reading, this is a prerequisite for most aspiring writers but this isn’t  the key factor motivating me to write.  And whether you were ‘good’ at something at school is an even worse reason.  I was pretty average at science at school but this was due to the boring classes and uninspiring teachers we had, rather than the subject matter.  In fact, I’ve probably learnt far more about science by reading books out of my own volition and actively seeking answers in the last few years, sparked by curiosity about why and how things work.

This question has made me re-evaluate my motivations and purpose and at just the right time, too.  I believe that if you really want to write, it should not be a chore.  Of course, writing requires some form of discipline, especially if you wish to make some sort of living from it but ultimately, the therapeutic enjoyment it gives you should outweigh any of the negatives. Writing can be a lonely pastime so if you are going to put yourself through the hours of solitude it requires, a burning desire should be what motivates you, otherwise it all seems to be a waste of your valuable energy which could be employed elsewhere in a more social activity.

So, reflecting on all this, I have concluded that it is about time I change the way I view writing.  Recently, it has been something that I have viewed with trepidation and dread.  I have hesitated to write anything for fear it will be awful.  They key is to write through this ‘block’.  The likelihood is the first time I write things, it will be bad.  But I need to lay something down before I can even attempt to make things better.  There is no room for perfectionist tendencies when you are working on your first draft.  The red pen should come out afterwards.

The real reason, after much introspection, why I write is because I want – no, need –to articulate my thoughts in some tangible form to help me make sense of myself and the world in which I live.  In some ways, this is horribly egoistic but I believe this is a key motivating factor for most writers- writing helps to confirm my existence and carve out some sort of uniqueness in my experiences in a world of seven billion people. I love the escapism writing provides; I find thoroughly immersing yourself in writing has a therapeutic effect, where you lose yourself in a world which has no limits or judgement.  That is why I want to write.

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