Why Do You Write?

Photo © 2008 Ed Yourdon CC BY-SA 2.0

A number of people who follow this blog not only enjoy reading, but also write. In general, I’m finding that a good number of the people who participate in online reading groups are also writers. Some are published writers; some, freelance writers; some, indie writers; some, aspiring writers. Most of us are some combination of those.

This led me to ask a fundamental question. I’ve always assumed I knew the answer. But after considering it, now I’m thinking I’ve probably assumed too much.

The question is: Why do you write? Not just what do you hope to achieve in your writing career? But what does writing do for you? And why is that important to you?

Many writers, for example, say they’re trying to “get published.” I don’t know why they’d want that, however. In most cases, when you “get published,” you get it alright. “It” being much more work and very little money. The vast majority of titles published by third-party publishers never sell enough copies to make back the publisher’s investment.

But maybe you want to get published to satisfy a different need. Maybe you want to see your name in print. Or to be a part of the “published” insider’s club. But is that why you write? Just to be part of an insider’s club?

Or are there other reasons?

Me, I write, because I have passions, and I want to share my passion; because I enjoy stories, and I want to share that enjoyment; and because I want to make a difference. And because I want to become famous (which isn’t working).

(By the way, there’s no money in writing fiction.)

If you consider yourself a writer, why do you write? If you would like to consider yourself a writer, why do you write?


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While I wouldn’t mind being a famous author or making money from authoring (as opposed to writing Web copy, for example), all I can say is everything else from your ‘other reasons’ list, and a few you didn’t mention. Good stuff for aspiring new writers to consider before spending time and money in pursuit of a possibly unrealistic dream!

Thanks Tim.

Hi, Tim,

Great question!

I write because I can’t *not* write. It’s just something I’m compelled to do. I think one of the reasons is that I express myself better through writing than through speaking or drawing or music or any other medium.

But mostly, I think, it’s because I value clear communication and clear thinking so highly. Who was it who said, “How do I know what I think until I see what I write?” I’m not sure anyone knows anymore, but whoever it was got it right. At least for me.



(It’s easier than typing out the whole dad-gummed thing again …)

Writing for me provides a few purposes. It provides an outlet for my warped mind. The BDGJM site gives me its venue.

I also many times find writing to be someone cathartic. I wrote one piece called “I Can’t Hear You (I’m in A Library). I was offended by the way people act in libraries today. My writing allowed my warped mind to get it off my chest.

It would be nice to write for money at some point. However, my best achievement was receiving an autographed copy of Kevin Cummings “Happily Domesticated”. Kevin started off his autograph by saying: “From one writer to another”. To have Kevin identify me as a writer is a huge endorsement and a great honor.



Great post. And you’re right, if you want to be in the publishing business, you’ve got to do it for the love and not for the money.

I write to discover things about myself and about the world. I write to make sense of it all, and because those imaginary people can be awfully persistent. 🙂

Writers can and do make a difference. The word is truly a powerful thing.

My survey question is “Who do you write for?”

[…] in an Apr 6, 2010 blog titled "Writer's Back!" and an Apr 22, 2010 blog titled "Why Do You Write?" And it was published in a May 29, 2010 blog titled "Guest Post: How to handle multiple […]

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