Tuesday, 27 November 2012

07. Why I Write

It’s not a matter of motivation to write. It’s a matter of compulsion.

I have to do it.

Whether it’s new words or a reworking of them, I have to write something every day. If I don’t, I’m sure my skull will explode.

At the risk of sounding completely mad, I have to get those voices out of my head. Whether it’s a character insisting I tell his or her story, a plot idea or a momentary flash of brilliance, (lol) I have to get it on paper or onscreen. This exercise ensures two things - that I have a physical record of that voice, thought or idea, and naturally to make way for new ones.

I haven’t always felt this way. My school days were times of voracious reading. There was a thought in the back of my mind that I might write a book ‘someday’ but I preferred the creations of others. Then real life affected the many other worlds in which I’d surrounded myself.  To cope with the trials and tribulations of the dreaded teenage years I kept diaries and I wrote poetry. To read them now is laughable and I wonder what the hell was I thinking, but at the time, they were a source of great comfort.  I can flick open any page of those notebooks (now yellowing, torn, and in some cases, hanging on by a single staple) and instantly know who I was crushing on, who had broken my heart and my opinion of life in general.

Time passed, life took another unexpected turn (as it is so inclined) and I found myself yet again turning to words as a source of comfort, a way of healing.  And the words were there for me. I poured my heartache and disappointment into stories not caring what I wrote, only knowing that doing so made me feel better. Then that flurry of words began to mean something. I found inspiration everywhere I looked. I discovered I liked creating characters. Sometimes they sprang from my thoughts, and other times I’d see someone smile or look a certain way and I wanted to know why they were so happy. What was behind that enigmatic expression?  Their dialogue would flow from random snippets I heard in the world around me or I’d fashion my own and once I found the magic,  I realised that I didn’t want to stop. There’s a certain kind of power in creating your own worlds and giving characters life (even if some of those characters are more stubborn than I am). To place them in dire situations and making that all important decision of whether you would lead them to safety again is just as thrilling. 

And I am not alone in feeling this way. Ask anyone who writes and they will have similar tales to tell. Whatever their motivation and whenever they began writing, they are following that same compulsion. They have to write.  They know exactly what I mean about the voices in their heads, of characters demanding their stories be told.  They are the ones who understand when you matter-of-factly speak of murder, mischief and mayhem in a way that astounds those who don’t have this compulsion. (Dare I call it an addiction?)  

So I write because I don’t know how to stop and frankly, I don’t want to.  My words have given me comfort, fulfilled dreams and built worlds that keep me (somewhat) sane and I’m happy here. 


  1. Being able to lose and find ourselves in our writing is a gift. Can be frustrating trying to get published, but the actual writing...you're right, we need to value it. Lovely post.

  2. I have all that frustration to come, Jenny. :) Pleased you enjoyed the post. :)

  3. Yes, I agree that the most enjoyable part of writing is when it flows and one is lost to the world and wondering where all those ideas flow from. But oh dear, it's not always like that for me! I have quite long barren times when it seems there isn't a single idea in my head. I'm an intermittent writer and marvel at those professionals who sit down and do an 8 hour day, every day, whatever the weather and the mood.Margaret Sutherland

  4. Hi Margaret. :) Yes it is wonderful when it flows and you're completely lost in the worlds you've created. I don't write like the professionals and do an 8 hour day every day though - unless the writing is really screaming along and then the family is likely to starve and the house looks like a cyclone hit it (twice). LOL