Ever hoped to be the next J.K. Rowling? Or the next Stephen King? or just the next big thing? Dreamed that one day you would make millions and write happily ever after?
George Orwell mentioned in his essay, Why I Write (1946), the phrase that I love most is this, “… But before he ever begins to write he will have acquired an emotional attitude from which he will never completely escape… ”
He talked of 4 core motives for writing
1. Sheer egoism
The desire to be clever. The desired to be talked about, to leave a legacy.
2. Aesthetic enthusiasm
The perception of beauty in the world, in words, when they are in their beautiful arrangements. The pleasure in the impact rolling from one sound to another. Making the word count in the prose. Creating the rhythm of a beautiful story.
3. Historical impulse
The desire to see things as they are. The desire to find the truth, the facts of things and store them.
4. Political purpose
Political in this sense is nothing to do with the politics we think of today. It’s referring to the desire to push the world in a direction, altering people’s perceptions and ideas. Giving people something to strive for. No writing is genuinely free from political bias. Even the idea that art should not have anything to do with politics is a political attitude itself.
There are more writers now than ever before in all time in the history. The amount of self-help, how-to’s, writing programs, books, ebooks, audiobooks, websites and forums out there today is incredible. There are more and more blogs born on a daily basis.
I’m sure you have your own reasons and all our reasons aren’t exactly the same, but roughly here are the reasons why we write …
1. To be in the ‘now’
Writing slows us down (for good reason). It slows our thinking process. It lets us process things at a slower pace so we can contemplate things at a greater details. It takes some of the distractions away. When your hands are busy on the keyboard or on paper, your mind tends to focus a bit more.
It puts you in the moment, in the present. You’re not worrying about the past or what’s going to happen tomorrow. You’re right here, right now. Alive and living it.
“Nothing has happened in the past; it happened in the Now. Nothing will ever happen in the future; it will happen in the Now.”
― Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
2. To discover
We write to discover something about ourselves. We all need time to reflect on things that we’ve done or things that happened in our lives. Writing is another great way to do this. Many believed that unless you know yourself first, you won’t become successful in life.
Because you have to know what you’re good at. What is it that you are passionate about? What kind of topics you can talk about all the time and never run out of things to say about it?
Many keep a journal, whether it is electronics or paper format. It can be something simple. Things you’re grateful for. Things you do for a living. Things you stand for and things you won’t. Things you love or hate.
“When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.”
― Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
3. To tell stories
We are all storytellers.
Writers are all storytellers.
We use stories to tell of the meaning in things. Some of us are good storytellers and some of us are great at it.
Maybe we write because we want to bring some kind of meaning to the world. Maybe we want to make sense of the world we encounter and we share our confusions, stories, pains, happiness through our stories … our words.
4. To create
We all have a level of creativity hidden inside of us. It’s usually hidden in our passion and these kind of creativity is very hard to hold back from the world.
We write so that we can express this creativity to the world. We write because we want to create something that’s worthwhile. We write so that one day, hopefully, we will be able to leave behind a legacy for the latter generation to ponder once we’re gone. We create so that we may be remembered.
5. To Share
Human beings are social animals. We go mad when we are isolated. We need a community, a tribe in order to exchange and share information and ideas. We need community to share our stories and learn from other people’s stories.
We can’t experience everything ourselves so we experience through others and we share our experience to one another to learn even more.
So, why do you write? Do you have a message you need to send out into the world? Please share in the comment section below.