This is a light-hearted look at the reasons why we write. Every writer is individual, so are their reasons for writing. Some of us do it for pleasure, some of us do it for money, some of us do it to entertain and some of us do it to make sense of the world around us.
Some of us do it because it helps with our problems to turn situations into stories. And of course, some of us do it for other reasons. There are probably way too many to mention them all, but certainly some of the main ones relate to most of us.
Being a writer isn’t all about sitting back and tapping away on a keyboard and letting the words do it all for you. It’s one of the hardest, loneliest jobs in the world. It takes a certain kind of dedication and selfishness to shut oneself away to work, meaning spouses, children, family and friends come second. It takes days, months or even years.
And not all writers can go the distance.
So, why do we write? You might recognise yourself in many of these “writerly” types:
I write for the simple pleasure
There are plenty of writers who are not interested in seeing their name in print so much as simply seeing their words come to life. The joy of writing – producing something tangible and lasting, something that brings a smile and a certain amount of satisfaction - is all they need. It is a way of escapism, somewhere both the writer and their imagination can migrate to for a short while.
These types quite often write not just for themselves, but for friends and family, a true hobby rather than a career choice. They simply like to write just for the sheer pleasure it gives them.
I write purely for the money and fame
Unless you are the next big thing (and you are lucky enough to get a decent publishing contract worth millions), writing won’t earn you a huge amount of money. Fact.
It is often mooted that new writers shouldn’t start out on their writing journey with pound or dollar signs in their eyes, and with good reason, too – because the reality is very different.
The majority of writers make some money, but not a lot. They have to work very hard for little return, which is why many writers still work full time or part time to bring in a solid, stable income. They have to fit in their writing around the normal working day.
Of course, there are those who are lucky enough to receive a steady income from writing, such as freelancers, or those who have written a bestseller, however, a sense of perspective is wise when it comes to fame and fortune in the writing world, otherwise the vast majority will end up bitterly disappointed.
I write because I’m exorcising my problems
You might not think writers actually write because of this, but plenty do. These writers tend find solace in prose or poetry by weaving their inner most problems or issues within the words they write. In a sense, it is a form of escapism; that these writers are willing to lay bare their emotions so readily, and the results, surprisingly, are often gritty and true to life, which means readers can relate to them.
Writing is about escapism; from life, kids, work, family, our inner thoughts, from everything that happens around us, and sometimes the reality of life seeps into the imaginary life of stories.
We’ve all done it to a greater or less degree, sometimes without realising. But there are some writers do it all the time by filtering the difficulties of life into their writing.
The irony for these writers is that by exorcising life’s problems this way, the narrative is full of realism and perspective, and they make for compelling stories or poems.
I write because I need to
This kind of writer does it because it’s in their blood. The love of the written word has possessed them from an early age. These writers do it because they simply love to write and they tend to get restless if they are not writing.
For some, writing is their whole life, and they get withdrawals if they don’t write.
Not only that, but they write because they want to give something to the world; a contribution to readers in the form of stories. For a writer, there is no greater joy than your words producing reaction and emotion in your readers.
I knew from the age of nine that I wanted to be a writer, despite my artistic gift of painting, drawing and sculpting. I wasn’t interested in the obvious route of art school, because the love of writing won out in the end.
I’ve been fortunate to have worked both in the publishing and printing industry, and I first became published at 19. I’ve never looked back. I continue to do what I love; my affair with writing will never end.
For me, the motivation wasn’t money, but simply the need to write. And that’s true of this type of writer. We just need to write.