There are two responses I get when I tell people I write. The above (in the title) and something along the lines of ‘I write sometimes, too, but only as a hobby’. This post’s going to be about why writers write in the first place and I’ll deal with why some of them do it full-time (or aspire to) next week.
What people really mean when they say they wish they could write is they’ve never dedicated time to it. I believe that anyone can write. In fact, I’m so romantic that I believe anyone can do anything if they work at it enough. If you want to write, you will, there’s nothing stopping you.
Now, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with people using their time for other things – not at all – if we were all the same the world would be a boring place. Also, if everyone wanted to be a writer, there’d be more competition, which would not be good for me.
So why do some people write?
Well, a lot of writers talk about writing as a compulsion – it’s like breathing, they say, writing is oxygen, they need it to survive.
This, in my humble opinion, is bullshit. Writing is not integral to anyone’s physical survival. People don’t die from not writing.
So what do these people really mean when they say they need to write?
They mean that they feel compelled to write. This is usually because they get bombarded with ideas. Sometimes when you get an idea, it doesn’t leave you alone. It’s like when you get a song stuck in your head. The only ‘cure’ for this ailment is to write the thing. Often, even that isn’t enough – you need to write it and then edit it to perfection (perfection being an unattainable goal, of course.)
In a way, though, I do think writing is a kind of calling. You’re drawn to it. Now, some writers know exactly why they started writing but I don’t, because I was 5 and can’t remember that far back. However, I do know why I keep writing. Sometimes I think/talk about it like it’s something I can’t help – like I don’t have a choice. This, again, is bullshit. You always have a choice but I choose to keep doing it. Partly because I’ve done it for as long as I can remember and partly because I enjoy it.
And, to be honest, I think that’s all there is to it, really. Writer’s write because they enjoy it. Not all of it and not all the time but overall. It’s like a relationship – sometimes it feels so easy and blissful and at other times you’re arguing all the time and everything’s shit but overall it’s worth it – for the good times.
So that’s why writers write.
Next week: why some writers write full-time (or aspire to).