Why Do I Write?

I write to pay my bills. I’m a technical writer, that’s what I do. It’s a great pleasure that I’m able to turn something I’m able to do reasonably well into cash and groceries.

But that is nonfiction, and work done on behalf of someone else’s idea or business. I still write for myself. Why?

First, it might be helpful to explain what I consider “writing for myself.” This would include:

  • Fiction
  • Poetry
  • Journal writing

All of these activities serve personal, what some might call “antisocial” purposes because they are for my own benefit and enjoyment, not necessarily others’. Note that I am not a published/paid writer in any of those categories, so why do I bother?

I’ve been writing fiction since 1978 or so. I’ve been writing poetry since 1984 or so. I’ve been keeping a journal since 1988. Again, not for profit. Occasionally I’ve let others read the stuff, but not as a regular habit anymore. So why do I bother?

Maybe writing is just a hobby? A literary form of therapy? I write in these various forms for my own personal enjoyment. Sometimes I learn something. Sometimes I just feel better afterward. Sometimes I want to say something about the state of the world (or my reactions to it) and saying it straight out is not the most effective way to do it. If I have things I want to say or think about, why not just mull them over in my head? Why bother with the physical activity of putting pen to paper or fingers to laptop keyboard?

Maybe because writing is my way of leaving monuments. I was here, I lived, I had ideas, I mattered: here is the proof.

If you write, what compels you to do so?

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