Why do we write? It’s a question writers are asked over and over again, and no one asks us that question more than writers themselves. Why bother? Why write? Are we all looking to be the next J.K. Rowling, struggling to fulfill a dream of fame and fortune which, typically, turns out to be a fluke? Or is there a deeper reason for the desire to write, such as we see with the typical image of the “tortured artist”?
I’m not going to sugarcoat it; I don’t know why I write. It’s one of the more prominent reasons for my on-going writer’s block. Lately, I’ve been focused on earning praise and making money through my writing but that has only served to stall my work. I worry that others won’t like my work which, in turn, would lead to a lack of praise and a lack of pay. The worry consumes me until I can’t write anything at all.
So, why do we write?
I subscribe to newsletters from American Writers & Artists, Inc., also known as AWAI. At the beginning of August, one of their newsletters covered this very subject. The writer of the article within the e-mail, Mindy McHorse, narrowed the most popular answers to “why do we write” to the “4-F’s”: fame, fortune, family, and fire.
For the most part, the 4-F’s are pretty self-explanatory. You want recognition, you want to make money from writing, you want to build a legacy, you have an overwhelming passion which won’t leave you be, or any combination of these. I suppose, in a nutshell, these are the main reasons why anyone would write.
The problem isn’t finding answers to “why do we write”; it’s deciding what our truest motives are. We can have more than one reason to write, even more than one primary reason, but that doesn’t make expressing our motives any easier.
Unfortunately, being unable to express our motives can throw a wrench in our efforts to achieve our goals. If we don’t clearly know what motivates us, how can we feel driven enough to put the work into our dreams?
I’m still trying to pinpoint the driving force behind my writing. I know it’s not the possibility of fame and fortune because of how the expectations freeze me. Do I want to leave a legacy? Do I just have a passion for my writing and my subjects? Right now, the latter seems to be the most likely cause, but until I can express that motivation with complete conviction, it will continue to block my writing flow.
Why do you write? Do you just want fame and fortune, or do you truly have a nagging desire to write your story, poem, or essay? Can you express your motivation? If not, do you think that inability is holding you back? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Also be sure to check out the AWAI for helpful advice on advancing your career and navigating/surviving the insane world of the writing industry.