Why do writers write?

Excerpt from “Blackberry Wine” by Joanne Harris:

“Stuff the assignment!” he shouted merrily. “You don’t write because someone sets assignments! You write because you need to write, or because you hope someone will listen or because writing will mend something broken inside you, or bring something back to life-”

    To put this into the full context of the book(which I heartily recommend) the writer(Jay) wrote one sensationally succesful novel and then lost the plot thereafter and lost himself in the process. This excerpt is taken from where he starts to find himself again. I cheered at this point in the story, for what it’s worth.

Why do I write? For all those reasons and a few of my own.

I don’t write for anyone but myself. I admit, I love it when my readers here comment and we get into a dialogue but primarily I write for myself. It clarifies my thoughts among other things; I hear my own thoughts better this way. I do write in the hope that someone will hear me but it’s mainly so I have a voice beyond the four walls of my home and the slightly larger arena of my life beyond it. It tickles me that other people find value in what I write and it encourages me to continue  but it doesn’t shape what I chose to say or the way I say it. I don’t do it for the numbers either; which is just as well because this is not the sort of blog that gets vast traffic. I read my stats page but more out of curiosity about where people come from and how they found their way onto my blog. The daily, weekly and monthly figures are not of much interest; I find I enjoy comments far more.

I write because I can’t NOT write any more. I have things to say and it almost doesn’t matter any more if no one listens; it’s the saying of them that is important.

I write because otherwise I would go crazy in ways that society frowns on.

I write because stories and poems and ideas come burning and bubbling their way out of me  like mud from a geyser and I’d explode if they didn’t find their way out.

I write because I am who I am and that isn’t something I can change; I tried that for eight years and eight years is a long time to be in a coma to all intents and purposes. Sleeping Beauty got woken up; if you know anything about the original fairytale, she wasn’t woken by a mere kiss either.

I’m no Beauty but I could have slept for England.

19 thoughts on “Why do writers write?

  1. Viv, this was an amazing post, so inspirational, honest and simply beautiful…
    It reminded me of my statement of purpose I wrote a year ago for my application to the MA program at the University of Kent ; “Why do I write? I highly believe that writing is not a job but a way of life, its one’s nature. I do not believe you do it for honor, money or fame. I believe you do it because you simply cannot not do it and I have a pile of notebooks full of stories instead of notes on law lectures to prove it.”


    • There is a line in a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins:
      “What i do is me; for that I came” from the poem, “As kingfishers catch fire”.
      I believe that what we are will find its way out when the time is right.
      I spent a long time denying my writing and they were some of the hardest years of my life.
      I am so looking forward to you coming to England Lua!


  2. I write because I need to… for myself

    I write because I feel it gives my life value… it gives meaning to my mundane existence…

    I write for others as well, for if someone finds even a glimmer of hope (and yes I often try to add a bit of light when most times I feel there is only dark) then it gives me hope…

    I write because I can… and there are many things I can not do

    I write because if I do nothing more than dream, if I can not share the things I think, if I can not live life… my words can.

    That is why I write… thank you for reminding me Viv


    • You are very welcome, enreal. Thank you for this.
      I do usually try to end even posts where I have been exploring pain and suffering with a bit of light. I don’t always succeed.
      peace be with you,


  3. I write because it helps clear my head from the incessant chatter I often experience but also because it provides clarity.

    I often write what is best described as “word salad” or doodling with words and again it calms my thoughts…

    Just for the record….I adore your writing to the extent that I am trying to ration the stash…you know what I mean!!



    • “I write because it helps clear my head from the incessant chatter I often experience but also because it provides clarity.”

      So do I. But I should make a note here that I don’t consider myself a writer.
      I also write because I like the physical process of writing itself. That’s why I often prefer to write in a notebook with a nice pen and not type. Words written in my handwriting have a special effect on me. Perhaps because I have a better visual memory than any other type of memory.

      But Viv, you write beautifully and it’s worth all the pains.


      • Thank you my dear!
        I don’t enjoy writing using a pen anymore because I simply cannot go fast enough….but I do have a collection of notebooks where I write stuff down…


  4. Writing helps me be me. I step out of the way as much as possible and let something I hope is inspiring come out and onto the keyboard and the terminal. Don’t know what shape, size or topic will eventually develop. I’m surprised as things tend to take on a life of their own, and I wonder from where they actually originated.

    From me? No. I believe something inside of the me.

    Just like that certain spark or light that gets you started, gets you crying in the wilderness or speaking gently about a lost love, a lost moment.

    It’s good to back writing almost daily. Forgot how satisfying it can be. And how much better the wine tastes on reading some of the older entries, like clips saved from old newspaper stories. They are to be savored.

    michael j


    • “I’m surprised as things tend to take on a life of their own, and I wonder from where they actually originated.

      From me? No. I believe something inside of the me.”
      I have a similar feeling most of the time but prefer to think that sometimes things come from beyond me.
      thanks Michael!


  5. I write for assignments…and I write because of this compulsion that I cannot name! So I wholeheartedly agree with what you’ve said in this post.

    I think that some of us express ourselves best through writing – and the need to express our thoughts and also our emotions, is strong inside all humans. Most of us are comfortable expressing themselves through speech – those who are not gravitate towards writing.

    This could be a completely personal opinion:-)

    W. Regards,


    • I agree. I’m actually quite a good speaker but I do hate the LOOK AT ME side of public speaking or of voicing an opinion in a public forum. I am usually the “voice from the cheap seats” at seminars, where I would give my right arm to be able to throw my voice….
      I also realised last night when I had to debate whether to stay up for hours writing or go to bed that I am torn between the need to be sensible(in this case go to bed because I am tired and down with a cold) withe the need to be wild and creative. I compromised and wrote till I got to a bit I wanted to defer till I could really enjoy the writing of it and then went to bed.


  6. Hi Viv!

    I think writing is sort of like a terminal illness. It’s not really a choice, but something we learn to live/deal with for what little time we have left. It’s a moral imperative for me. Like so many others, I feel that *not* writing is simply *not* possible. It’s like a burning in the blood that I *have* to free or the bottled emotions will consume me. Survival instincts are pretty strong, so I don’t fight the creativity when it strikes. If we don’t feed our creativity and give it the release it needs, the Laws of Physics or Gravity or the Universe take hold, and we have no choice but to implode. And that can get very messy. 🙂


    • Hi Kendal,
      yes, I do think it is like that. But much like how some deal with terminal illness, some do fight it and refuse to accept it.
      But having reached that implosion point many times, I do tend to go with the flow.
      thanks for dropping by!


  7. The people who ask me why I write have clearly never seen me attempt to put up a shelf.

    I write because I’m really, really crap at everything else. And I’m quite pleased about it 🙂


  8. I write because characters and their circumstances spring into my head & won’t shut up until I write them out. I hear they have drugs for that, but I was never into the drug scene, hence…writing!

    I put away my writing for ten years or more while my kids were growing up. I was miserable. Since I took it back up in 2006, I’ve finished four novels and a novella, and I’m happily sane and drug-free.


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