Why do you write?

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Paul Whybrow

Full Member
Jun 20, 2015
Cornwall, UK
I'm two-thirds of the way through my WIP, the third in a series about a Cornish detective. I'm making plans for the following two stories and am feeling optimistic about the future.

I read Haruki Murakami's What I Talk About When I Talk About Running recently, which while about running, is also revealing about his creativity. Murakami is very good at letting the reader into his thought processes, something he also does with the characters in his novels. Their internal dialogue is gripping, and it's something I try to emulate with my novels.

This article in Flavorwire, where famous authors give their reasons for writing, made me ponder my own motivations for writing.

15 Famous Authors on Why They Write

I agree with what they say about it being a solace, source of happiness, a delight and a way of expressing myself on something. It also has a feeling of making my mark, leaving some trace of who I am. I'm not suggesting that I'm striving for immortality, for it's a sad fact that a tiny number of writers are remembered by name through history.

How many of you have heard of J.P. Marquand? He was a hugely successful writer in the early 20th century, reaching millions of readers and winning the Pulitzer Prize for literature, yet today he's forgotten. I came across him as an answer to a crossword clue, which might be an apt comment on the transience of success.

So, why do you do it? Why do you write? ( Showing off is a good reason!)

Because I can't not write?

I have written since I was able to hold a pencil and form my letters. My first published work was a poem in Highlights magazine when I was about eight years old. I love words, and I love playing with them to reveal their hidden meanings. It doesn't matter to me whether those words are written or spoken--I was perfectly happy to tell non-fiction stories orally for 25 years of my career (with a good dose of writing and visual story telling in there, too). It wasn't until that was no longer an option that I turned entirely to writing. And I did that because it was the only way I could think to continue to tell stories, continue to reveal meaning with words. And I was writing anyway--something I hadn't really noticed before. I was doing it all the time, but because I'd always done it, I didn't realise that it was something special or worth focusing on. It was like brushing my teeth--I just did it because I had to. It was only when other circumstances killed my career that I gave myself permission to accept the writing part of myself and share it with others.
Because I love reading.

It certainly started with me that way as well.

I write because I get a buzz from it. A lot of it can be a hard slog and some days it does not always pan out but when you have that eureka moment when a plot twist slots neatly into place and opens up a whole new avenue of action or direction or a new character revelation occurs that brings a new dimension to so much more, I genuinely think that almost nothing can beat that feeling.
Because I love reading and wanted to find out, could I write something i would like to read, if someone else had written it? And because I paint and draw, and like making and producing things. Also because there was something in me down deep, a feeling, an experience, I wanted to try and articulate for myself through the vehicle of a story written about someone else. And I suddenly remembered being in junior school, the entire school assembled, and the headmaster read out a story, explaining that it was being taped for the school archive. And I had written it! Though I haven't a clue now, what it was.
Some really inspiring quotes under that link, Paul. It would be difficult to add anything, not to mention to top any of them.

Showing off- sure, would be delighted to, but there is not much to do the showing off with I'm afraid ;)

From all the reasons why I write, I think the most substantial one is to connect. To be heard. And then, hopefully, to provoke some thoughts.
For me, it has always been because there's a story inside that I have to tell. Writing is my passion, and when I do it I feel truly free. Editing on the other hand...
Glory-hunting. Money-making. Because sometimes I think I'm hilarious, especially after wine. Only via text though, cos in person I'm cripplingly stilted and have a naturally miserable expression.

I don't even enjoy writing half the time but it's gotta be done sometimes, there's things I want to say and writing it down is the only way I can do it without getting self-conscious and shit. I've spent seven years trying to write a poem for a friend that died and fifty eight poems later I'm still not happy with it, but one day I'll say what I want to say and then I can leave it.

Writing makes me feel better usually.
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Open House for submissions at United Agents in the UK