Why Do You Write?


Writing the Breakout Novel, by Donald Maass opened my eyes to another world. I am not done with his book but that hardly matters. He asked the question that has been bothering me the most. Why do you write?

Why do I write? I haven’t the foggiest idea. Jumbles of pictures about people and locations and gripping emotional trauma creep into my mind, and I just want to spit it all out. I get excited. I think other people will be excited too. I like to hang out with myself making things, so stories creep to the top of my list of things to make and . . . I just write them. Yet I struggle. I can’t figure out why I am doing it.

It hit me the other day, “Wow! Jesus used stories!” Master storyteller. I learn something new every day from his stories. But I am not Jesus, and I am not one of the multitude of writers God spoke through to write the Bible. I am just a person, living life, trying to figure it out, crying when my heart breaks, jumping when I am excited, planning on graduating from college . . . you know, the daily routine. Why should I write?

If I were to die tomorrow without having written a single piece of world-class bit of literature, I doubt the world would notice, or even that it would be a worse-off place because I didn’t get my story written. Or if I were to live until  I was eighty-five, having written several amazing novels, would it really change the course of history that much? Would my work have any significance at all? I kind of doubt it.

Words are alive. They breathe. They move, and they beat out a rhythm we all end up accepting or rejecting, following or turning away from. In that sense, I know once my words were written and sent out, they would change something, but would it really be worth it to invest so much of my time?

I read these books because I want to learn and because I want to write. Is reading them worth it? It takes a lot of my time, and I wonder, should I be out, living life instead? I am not sure yet. Just like I am not sure why I write.

Which is a problem. If I don’t really care about my writing . . . or don’t know why I write, how can I expect my readers to care?