Why we Write


“Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.”

Jules Renard  (1864 – 1910)
”We do not write because we want to; we write because we have to.”

W. Somerset Maugham (1874 – 1965)

If you haven’t yet read bestselling author Lynn Viehl’s blog post on the breakdown of her royalty statement, it makes for interesting reading.  For a variety of reasons, actually. 

I guess in most industries, people try to see how their compensation measures up to others’. I’m certainly not above that. It’s nice in some ways to know that our wages are on target with the profession as a whole.

But to me, the most interesting facet of the royalty statement was that it illuminated the fact that even best-selling authors aren’t making gobs of money in this business.  Don’t get me wrong—netting $26,000 for one book is good gravy for a writer.  But, if you’ve got a family, you’re not exactly quitting your day job over it. 

So why do we do it? 

I think most of us write because we absolutely have to.

Toni McGee Causey posted a very interesting blog post on Murderati entitled “How Do You Know When to Quit?” Actually, however, the post focuses on not quitting.  It references Christie Craig’s inspiring story of her long road to a published book. 

I love mysteries. When I read mysteries, I want to write my own.  The ideas fly through my head and I grab paper and pencil to put them down.

Writers who stick with the process, who put in the hours, who edit their manuscripts umpteen million times, who do all this despite the money—they’re the ones who’re dedicated enough to stay in for the long haul. 

So here is my own, personal Top Five list.  Top Five Reasons Why I Write:

1. It’s cheaper than therapy.

2. It’s cheap, period. Think about it—no other hobby or profession can match it.  If you can afford the dollar store, you can afford to write.

3. I need to express myself creatively. I’m a creative person who can’t act, paint, draw, sculpt, or dance. Writing is my outlet.

4. The voices tell me to do it.  Okay, I’m being funny here….sort of.  Am I the only writer who has 2 characters’ dialogue running through their heads?

5. I feel driven to do it. I write, not necessarily by choice, but from a real need to write. Even as a kid, I filled journal after journal. I wrote for school magazines and newspapers.  Then I graduated to getting signed up for internships, and sending packet after packet to publishers. 

How about you? Why do you write?

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16 thoughts on “Why we Write

  1. My fist novel was written to share a person I knew with the reading public. Oh, the character was fictionalized in many ways, but, the basic person’s core was clearly there.

    My second novel was written as a personal challenge. Could I create a work of fiction from scratch…no cheating with character role models. As it turned out, I could.

    More to the point of your question, I guess I write for the joy of creation, it’s more fun than reading because I’m in charge of what happens….sorta.

    Best Regards, Galen.

  2. Very informative, thanks! I’m happy I can touch readers’ heart. That’s why I write.

    In Quest of Theta Magic

  3. I get crabby and distant when I take too much time off from writing. Heck, I’m so addicted, I dream about story ideas. LOL Comes in handy though. ;)

    Since you’re a writer, I thought I’d mention there’s a writers’ support group you might be interested in. It’s called Writers_on_Writing. If you want to know more, check out my blog. I posted some info about it yesterday. Maybe you know other writers who might want to join? The group’s a SUPPORT group, not a critique group for writers 18 years or older.

    Lynnette Labelle

  4. I absolutely love this post. I love the quote from writers about why they write, and I love your five reasons for writing. I write because it keeps me sane. Like Gayle, I’m an aduld child of not alcoholic, but extremely dysunfctional parents, and my spirit was buried inside me for too many years. It’s what my memoir, “Following the Whispers” is about.
    Writing gives me clarity about my inner world and hopefully helps others, once it is published.

    Karen Walker

  5. Psychologically, I write because I’m the adult child of alcoholics and lived most of my childhood and a portion of my adulthood in my own head, as if my life was a dress rehearsal and I’d get to live it for real the next time. It’s a natural progression, from editing yourself to editing your writing.

    Creatively, I write because I love words. Love the look of them, the feel of them in my head and on my tongue. It’s like playing with modeling clay. Fun!


  6. Love this post. (And did I mention I love the title of your blog? I do!)

    Something inside me tells me to write, too. Even when I’m on vacation, away from writing, I’ll see a good story and have to write it down. Before I had a blog, I’d e-mail these stories to friends. But that’s a beauty of a blog — Now I can share them with a larger audience!

  7. Excellent post – you sound like a truly dedicated writer. For me, it comes down to having a subject I feel strongly enough about to turn into fiction. And getting the work out into the world is important too – that’s why I like writing poetry and reading it at open mics. It’s instant gratification without any of the hassles of finding a publisher!

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