Reasons to write

by Sophie

Question Are there like wrong reasons to write? I love making up stories. I live with characters every day, I daydream all the scenes and emotions. Which means that I don't have to write to visualize stories in great detail. I would write them down so they could be shared, but is that too weak of a reason for writing? When I don't enjoy the process itself and just want the feedback?

Answer: Of course there are wrong reasons to write. Off the top of my head, these include...

1. Because you want to get rich quick. People often have the wrong idea about writers. Only a handful of people get wealthy from writing. Only a handful of great, talented, and prolific writers get wealthy from writing fiction. Yet, these few are the only writers most people know about, so they assume they are the average, not the exception.

2. Because you want to be famous. Same problem as above. The odds are heavily stacked against you.

3. Revenge. As strange as it seems, some people actually do write stories as a way of venting their anger against people in their life they think have wronged them. This may be fun, but will probably result in stories that are unpublishable.

4. To have your ego validated. Lots of people feel their life story is more interesting, instructional, inspirational, or exceptional than it is. They say they want to write their autobiography because it will help others, but really they just want to have others acknowledge how great they are. Of course, some people's lives really are exceptional. But it's usually better to have others ask you to share your story than to toot your own horn.

5. Because you think writing is easy work. Some people imagine a novel just pours onto
the page (or laptop screen) magically over the course of a fun-filled weekend. They think writing a book should be as easy as reading one. Again, there are always exceptions. But writing generally takes a lot more time, effort, thought, stamina, and willingness to take ego-destroying criticism than you may be prepared for.

I feel I should also include some good reasons to write:

1. Because you enjoy writing. If you would have fun writing, even if no one ever read your stories, then by all means write. The more you write the better you get at writing. It's an inexpensive hobby. And it might lead somewhere eventually.

2. Personal fulfillment. Sometimes putting thoughts to paper can help you clarify your ideas and feelings and make meaning out of your experiences. It can help you achieve a stronger sense of self.

3. If you feel compelled to tell your stories. If you have ideas for stories that feel like they are demanding to be written, then maybe listen to that feeling. Those little voices could be onto something, and maybe you owe it to yourself to find out.

4. Because you like hanging out with writers. Okay, this one's a bit different. I'm remembering how John Cleese (actor, screenwriter, and member of Monty Python) once talked about his experience at university. The nicest people he met there were members of a club that put on comedy shows. To join the club, you had to submit a script for a comedy sketch and have it accepted. So he wrote his first sketch in order to get into the club.

Lots of people have talents that might never be revealed if they didn't meet the right people who inspired them to try something new. Making friends is as good a motivation as any.

Best of luck.

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