Thursday, 18 August 2011

Why We Write

The other day, while taking a mental side trip from getting to know my characters a little better, I thought back to when I started writing. And that led to thinking about why I write. It was a bit weird to think cognitively about something that can be so intuitive like creative writing, so then I let my mind drift a little deeper and thought about my visceral need to write.

It is a need, not a want. I HAVE to write. I have ink in my veins that needs to be bled out of my soul onto the paper (or the computer, though I think copious amounts of blood might ruin my laptop...).

See, the more I thought of it I realized that writing saved my life. Really.

A number of years ago I was having a hard time coping with things going on in my life. I was feeling depressed, hopeless and stuck in rut. I was Eeyore -  but with smaller ears and without the cute bow on my tail. I felt stuck in a dark tunnel where the exit had been filled in with boulders. My family tried to help me out. My friends tried to help me out. But I was stuck and I stayed stuck in the helpless feelings for a long time.

I stayed stuck in this hopeless tunnel until a part of me was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired and decided to escape into my imagination. There I could fathom a world of characters with their own set of challenges, their own cast of loony, inspiring and heroic characters, and an untapped reservior of hope.

These stories stayed in my head for awhile until I couldn't take it anymore and had to write it down. So I peeled my ass off the couch *gasp* and bought a journal. And I wrote. And wrote. Every night. At the beach. On vacation. One story idea lead to another. So I went back to the book store and bought another journal. And wrote some more.

This whole process occurred over a couple of years and while there were other things happening in my life at that time that were more positive, I feel it was being able to live vicariously through my characters - to help them write their stories, to see them persevere and gain hope - that helped me get my hope back. And hope helped me to get my life back.

Writing happy endings for characters helped me to start to write my own happy ending. I began to believe it was possible to be happy. That there was a way out of the dank, dark tunnel. That I was the author of my own best-selling story starring Me, the fierce heroine who faces adversity and fights it with her sword and kick ass ninja moves.

So, in a round about way, this is why I write. Because it makes me feel good. Because I love connecting with a deep creative part of me where I feel free to be expressive. Because if writing about this stuff made me feel good, then maybe people reading what I write will help give them hope. Maybe they'll be able to relate to the characters. Or maybe they'll just have a chuckle or two. That's fine by me. Because, all in all, writing is plain old fun. Realizing this turned those boulders into sand and I was finally able to make my way out of the tunnel and into the light.

All that deep thinking about why I write got me thinking: Why do other authors write? Being the curious cat that I am, I asked a few authors that I know from a parallel universe called 'Twitter'. It was interesting to read why they write - all personal - but some similar themes across the board.

Here's what Al Boudreau (@threecifer) had to say about why he writes:
"I write because there is injustice in the world. However, if you stand on a
soapbox and yell, no one will listen. Therefore, my hope is to educate and
inform people of certain practices by big business and government that, if left
unchecked, can and will cause irreversible harm to us, and to our planet. By offering
this information within an exciting, compelling medium, the facts are delivered 
to the reader while entertaining them. This way, I believe there is a much
better chance that people will retain the information after the fact, and perhaps take
action of their own." 
- Al is the author of the gripping political thriller, In Memory of Greed and can be found supporting other independent artists via #pubwrite (through Twitter).

Don McGraw (@WHogarth) puts why he writes in his own words:
"We’re all wired to see the world in our own unique way.  I see stories.  A few days back I spotted a quaint old tin roof farmhouse tucked behind a bustling hardware store.  My wife saw an abandoned shack—I saw a hundred stories begging to be told.  For a moment I was there, oh so many years ago, no excavation, no highway, no urban sprawl.  My head spun with scenes of the past, all soon neatly cataloged in my gray matter alongside an aging courthouse, a report of a missing child, a mountain stream, an old man I met in the hardware store—scattered thoughts and images of every day life. Not all make it into the next novel but all add to the flavor and essence of the final product.  My product.  My craft.   This is what I do." 
- Don McGraw is author of two internationally acclaimed novels, Sins of a Nation and The Telltale Tempest.  He lives with his wife and three children in Austin, Texas.

My good pal Julie Bernhardt (@Julie_Bernhardt) shares with us her excitement for why she writes:
"My favourite part of writing is creating the first draft. No, scratch that, it's the revision process. No, no, it's making my outline. Or submitting my book to agents. Oh heck, I love it all! I am still so green at this I don't even mind rejection letters - it reminds me that I am actually doing this. I started writing seriously two and a half years ago, and it's just what this busy mom of two boys needs at the end of a tiring day. I may not have a lot of drama in my own life right now, but I love creating it for my characters - the more stressful for them the better. Although I admit, I love nothing better than making my characters fall in love, especially when they don't see it coming. So, if you're looking for me, I'll be curled up on the couch with my netbook tonight. And the night after that. And the night after that..."

Then Karen DeLabar (@KarenDeLabar) chimed in on her reasons for writing:
"All my life I have had someone else’s rules, ideals, and impressions pressed upon me. Even though I followed the rules, stayed in line and did what I was told to do, I had a need to express myself and stand out from the rest. For most of my life that need for creativity was filled by the stage. However, the written word was always there in the wings, waiting patiently for me to give it its cue. An avid reader my entire life, I began to crave the freedom and release that only writing can give. The ability to go anywhere, be anyone, do anything is more powerful and more addicting than any adrenaline rush the stage ever gave me. My world can be one of chaos and confusion, but when I sit down to write, I have control, I have the vision and that is most empowering." 
- Karen is a stay-at-home mom to two beautiful girls. She helps run Writing on the Rocks, an interview/review site of indie and self-published authors and an active member of the Twitter hashtag #pubwrite ( In between caring for her children, reading and writing she can be found on the stage in local community theatre and choral performances. Find her on Twitter (@KarenDeLabar) at her website ( at Writing on the Rocks ( or on her Facebook page (

Finally, I was talking (okay, I admit it, we were 'tweeting') to Erica Lucke Dean (@ericaluckedean) the other night about why we write and she shared with me her blog post where she wrote about her unwavering desire to write, no matter what interruptions get in her way. Her humourous and passionate blog entry can be found here.
- Erica writes romantic comedy and suspense novels. And, like the mailman, she delivers humorous and relatable blogs through snow, sleet, rain or shine. Information about her books, including sample chapters can be found here.

As you can see (because you're so smart and aware of these things) my fellow authors and I have our own reasons for writing. 

But there are common threads that connect the reasons we write: passion, hope, change, escape, and fun. 

I guarantee that if you read the works of these authors, and many others, their raison d'etre will be obvious.

We put our hearts right on the page for you to read.

We give our hearts to you, dear readers, with unconditional love, because underneath it all, that is why we write.

For you.


  1. Thank you for including me in your "why I write" blog. It's such a personal thing for everyone, but no matter what your reasons, writers write. It's what we do.

  2. Great blog, Christina. Thank you for sharing your story. As for me, I write because I don't want to sell insurance. It's complicated. Also, because I can't not write any more. It would be like not breathing.

  3. Piper, thanks for stopping by and sharing the reasons why you write. I'm glad you're doing something that you love (writing, not insurance ;)).

  4. Your story is one of the best I've heard of about why people write. It struck a chord with me because I've used writing to battle depression as well. Thanks for sharing this with us!

  5. You're welcome, Chuck. Thank you for your comments. Write on! :o)

  6. I love the energy going viral here!! I completely related to writing as a means to releasing self, to finding self, to becoming self through the writing stages of sharing self. No matter the genre, writing is a fantastic tool to connect to others. It is also a fantastic tool to connect to ourselves where by we are able to repair our souls as we stitch together handpick words to carve the stories within our souls. I also smile when reading piperbayard comment as writing is indeed breathing as writing is our souls released, and to release our souls is truly living no matter the vehicle or the vice. Everyone keep doing, keep writing, and I'll keep smiling by reading about what you are doing via your writing :-)