Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Why do you write?

As the writer's strike in Hollywood drags on, a blog has been created to give them an outlet. The blog Why We Write consists of a series of essays by prominent, and not so prominent, TV and Film writers and by everyday people who hope to someday call themselves writers. Each day an essay from a different writer is posted, in which they talk about their reasons for writing.

I especially enjoyed reading the essay from LOST writer, Damon Lindeloff and the essay from Scrubs creator, Bill Lawrence. (If you do click over to read their essays, be warned, they do drop a couple of expletives.) Reading their essays got me to thinking about why I myself write. I don't know if I've ever stopped to think about that before. Writing was just something I've always done.

I think writing, first and foremost, is an outlet for my imagination. All those creative crazy thoughts have to have somewhere to go! I've always made up stories ever since I was a little kid. I have notebooks and binders from my childhood years just filled to the margins with my silly stories and my own handcrafted fairy tales. There were all these amazing adventures and interesting characters in my head and I felt compelled to capture them on paper before they flittered away into the mist.

I think another reason why I write, is to connect with other people through storytelling; to share a thought, an experience or to touch someone with an emotion. Whenever my father told me stories from his childhood, or would make up stories for me (complete with sound effects), it was such a magical moment between us; a connection point. When it comes to this blog, I write in order to connect with friends (and the occasional stranger) over shared interests.

It's fine to talk about creativity, the imagination, or connecting with other people. Those are all fine and good reasons for writing. However, if I'm going to get real and take a hard look at myself as an artist, I think a big reason why I write my fiction pieces is out of cowardice. Through my characters, I can do things I would never have the courage to do in real life. In my stories, I can give the meek girl courage and the perfect words to stand up to the bully. I can give my characters the power and ability to be the heroes I could only hope to be. I can have a character admit their true feelings towards someone else. They can be brave enough to leave home and set out on new adventures. I can live vicariously though them, and maybe...sometimes...they help me to find a little bit of courage in my life too. Writing is funny that way.

But lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I write because it is a talent God has blessed me with and when I write, I feel a connection to Him. In the movie Chariots of Fire, olympic runner Eric Liddell is trying to explain to his sister why he would rather race than enter the missionary field, and why running is just as noble a pursuit. He says, "I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure." When I'm creating, I feel a connection to my Creator. The joy I feel, when crafting a beautiful phrase, using the gifts God has given me, is in some small way, an act of worship. I am doing one of the things God has created and enabled me to do. I hope it makes Him smile.

So now I turn the question to you. Why do you write? Whether it be a blog, a journal or diary, or poems or short stories or even just e-mails - have you ever stopped to think about why you write? Leave me a comment and let me know...


Anonymous said...

Because I like having something I've created finished. (This is rare - given my track record). But there is no better feeling than holding a completed project in hand - something for others to read. The process itself is mostly a slog. I'm hoping for the payoff. - Chad

Jes said...

I remember reading a book in college that was assigned to me by the head of the Theatre department.

In it, there was a young actor being mentored by the wise acting coach.

At one point the wise coach asked the young actor why he acted.

The young one said, "Because I love to."

The mentor said, "Until you act because you have to, you will not truly be an actor."

(OK, so I'm paraphrasing from memory, but you get the gist.)

I think I write because I have to. I fear that if I didn't, my head would explode.


Kathleen said...

When I was younger I wrote because I had to for school assignments. I kept journals sometimes. Creative stories and journals are two totally different types of writting in my mind. I would create stories in my head when I was younger though, every night before I fell asleep. I think about stories for a long long time and then if I do decided to actually write them I do it because I have to get the story out of my head and because I want to write it out for myself. I have never finished writting a story out, althought I create them in my mind fully. The story I am curently writting began in my head since 1997 and it still a work in progress. I never write any stories for other's to read. I think they are too personal, I would be afraid to publish them, so by keeping my stories to myself I don't have to worry about rejection, and the fact that I think I am a terrible writter. I would feel sorry if someone tried to read one of my stories. They are total rubbish. I do enjoy keeping a blog now instead of a journal and I have a lot of fun with that, but it is a totally different kind of writting then fiction for me.

D.L. White said...

Thanks for all the posts guys! That's one benefit of writing I forgot to mention - the sweet bliss of a completed project. I think I've forgotten what that feels like. lol And you're right-writing fiction is a "slog" - Neil Gaiman mentions that all the time on his blog. A couple days ago he said he was happy to finally have gotten 7 pages written-and that made me feel better. To the average person that doesn't sound like much, but if you've ever tried to write anything, you know 7 pages is like climbing Everest! :)

And Kat - keep writing! Even if it is just for you! Most of the poetry I write, I usually write just for myself because I know it's either not very good, or it's not written in an approachable way where other people would be able to understand it. But I still write it...just so I can get all the thoughts out of my head.

The Trousered Ape said...

My professors make me write...

D.L. White said...

LOL!!! That's the best answer out of all of them!