Why do we write?
It’s a question writers often get asked, and probably one we think about all the time anyway. There are a lot of answers to that question; as readers and fans you’ve no doubt seen a lot of them. It’s something writers love to talk about, and we always love reading and hearing what our favorite writers have to say on that subject.
Most of the time, for us, we write because we don’t know how not to. We just can’t not write. Whether it’s sitting at the desktop or laptop, putting notes down in a phone, or using actual pen and paper by scribbling in one of our several thousand notebooks, or grabbing the first thing we can find (ripped open envelope, back of an already used post-it, margin of a magazine… back of our hands even)… inspiration and ideas strike constantly.
It happens all the time, and everywhere.
Out walking, sitting on a train, having a coffee, when the lights are out and just before falling asleep, watching TV, watching a movie. Being a writer means being on call to the beautiful muse, 24/7.
There are other reasons too: writing keeps us sane, helps us make sense of the world (and of ourselves)… but perhaps most importantly of all, we just love it.
We love it so much.
It’s an absolute blast, writing and being a writer. At its best, it feels like being in Pink Floyd or Muse and playing a guitar solo in a stadium full of screaming fans.
At least, it feels that way. Except, here’s the thing: when you’re a writer, there’s usually no one else there. That stadium is empty, most of the time. The truth is, being a writer is very much a “loneliness of the long distance runner” kind of activity. You’re running through an unforgiving landscape with no idea where the end of the race is going to be. But if you want to get there, you have to just keep running.
There’s really only one way to sustain that kind of existence: you have to love the crap out of it.
And we so do.
One of the most thrilling things in the world for anyone is possibility; but for a writer, the absolute most thrilling thing needs to be making possibilities become real, tangible, actual. You’re architect and craftsman, designer and builder. Yes, you have to be made of steel sometimes; you have to have an absolutely endless appetite for creating, for that thrill of coming up with something new… and for putting in the hours, weeks, months and maybe years to see it through.
And then, maybe, to spend that much time again getting rejected.
What?! Yeah, ‘fraid so.
So you have to really love it, because if you are in that phase of sending your work to others (agents, competitions, managers, other writers) and not hearing what you wanted to hear, you still need to be coming up with the next thing, and the next, and the next. Your desire needs to be immense, indestructible. Just like Celine says, your heart must go on (no, we can’t believe we went there either). You have to be utterly and hopelessly in love with this thing. Because it will hurt. It will be dark, sometimes. But you know, that’s okay, if you love it. That’s okay, if the sheer act of putting words on paper or on screen makes you feel like you’re Dave Grohl blasting out a Foo Fighters song at the Grammys.
That absolute blast, that thrill of possibility and exploration is what drives us. The open road, the open sky… the open universe. We love launching ourselves into new worlds. It’s like being explorers, or mountain climbers. There’s a lot that goes into it, but the feeling when you discover that miraculous new world, or see that incredible view from the summit, is the most wonderful thing. We want it, over and over again. We’ll always want it.
Basically, being a writer is like having your own TARDIS.
You get to travel in time and space and see wonderful, mind-blowing things. Dreams that surprise you, scare you, change you. Every time you open a new Word doc (or Final Draft, or even just a blank piece of paper), it’s like the TARDIS has landed, and just like the Doctor, you have no idea what’s on the other side of that door. But you can’t wait to throw that door open and throw yourself into whatever adventure awaits.