Why Do We Write?


I haven’t felt much like writing lately. I mean, I want to, but my mind seems to resist the idea.

Is it fear? Of what? Of failure? Well, we’re all afraid of that. The truth is that no matter what I write some people are going to like it and some aren’t. I think what I’m really afraid of is disappointing myself. Not feeling that what I’ve written is good enough, in my own mind.

As I was driving home the other day, the thought occurred to me… I don’t have to do this. I have a good job that pays my bills and is, in itself, satisfying. I’m not writing to make a livelihood or meet a deadline.

So why am I doing it? Why do I write?

Someone, not long ago, asked me that and then told me that a professor had told him what the “right” answer was. Really? There’s a “correct” answer to that? I don’t think so. I think there’s a personal answer.

I write, in part, because I like to write. It’s fun. I like to play with words, like some kids like to build castles with sand. I’d say that’s reason enough.

I write because I have something to say, a story to tell, either that I think will interest someone out there or help them in some way.

I write because it’s how I make sense of the world and how I express my outrage or joy. I think much better on paper than out loud.

Okay, yes, and partially because I like the rush of getting positive feedback from people who read it. Last night I read a short story in writers group and everyone thought it was okay but one person really liked it. That was enough.

This year I’ve taken the mantra “write the story you want to read” to heart. I don’t know where I first found it, but I have it written down on a scrap of paper. I don’t think I have the skills yet to really do that. Sometimes I get a glimmer. Other times I read books others have written and despair of ever reaching those dizzying heights.

I think – perhaps I need to read more, learn more, write more. Or perhaps I’ll just never be that good.

Still, I know that I can’t try to write like someone else. That simply doesn’t work in the long run. But how do I create a distinctive voice all my own? Is it already there and I can’t hear it because it’s the voice that’s inside my head all the time?

I know, occasionally, I write something and think – oh, that’s nice. I like that.  And that’s just plain fun.

So, why do you write?


  1. January 18, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    I write because sometimes I can’t NOT write. Whenever I can (not write), I will. It’s a big mystery that I enjoy not understanding 🙂

    • melorajohnson said,

      January 18, 2013 at 2:59 pm

      Ah, I am a huge advocate of enjoying the mystery of life. 😉

  2. neenslewy said,

    January 25, 2013 at 10:08 pm

    You already have a distinctive voice, it is your voice. Read as much as you can and take classes though, writing is a craft like any other and the better you are the more chance you have to succeed. On a personal level you can journal without having to worry about tools and it embraces your creative spirit.

    • melorajohnson said,

      January 25, 2013 at 10:15 pm

      Thanks. I don’t have much chance to take classes between work and family but I do read on the topic and belong to a writer’s group, which I believe is helping me improve.

      • neenslewy said,

        January 25, 2013 at 10:39 pm

        I read some of your blogposts from 2009 – and then last year, it sounds to me like you have a good grasp of the basics and beyond. You will learn as you go, you already have experience. Look forward to following the successes of 2013.

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