The Standard Question

People always ask writers that one question – “Why do you write?”

I know I’ve been asked it hundreds, if not thousands of times.  Ironically, I always answer the question in the most non-creative fashion possible.  I respond with something like “I can’t *not* write.  It’s just what I do.”

Which is total BS, if I’m being honest about it.  It’s the thing you say because it’s what you’re *supposed* to say.  Because writing is supposed to be the thing that drives you, your unending passion, your beating heart and all that.  Which is utterly false for a lot of people, including me.

I can go months without writing, and frequently have. It doesn’t keep me up at night.  I’m not overflowing with ideas and stories that I simply must get on paper or I’ll die.  I’m not saying that scenario isn’t true and real for very many others.  In fact, I’m sure it is! The commonality of the feeling is probably why I felt the need to buy into it for so many years.  I repeated the myth because I wanted it to be true for myself.

For me, writing is work.  It’s not difficult – not precisely.  When it all comes to together it tends to come together very well, and I can write poems in minutes that I actually love, or stories and chapters can come and go in an evening or two.  When it falls into place it’s like magic, so much so that I often reread things later and have a hard time believing I wrote them because I simply don’t recall much of the process.

It’s the in between times that make me feel like Not A Writer, and those times are far more frequent and lasting than the aforementioned magic.

So in the end, saying “I can’t *not* write!” is sort of a lie.  Today could be the last day I ever wrote anything, and I’m not sure it would kill me.  Yet at the same time, the magic of the story wouldn’t end. I’d still be creating worlds and characters and living there for a while with them and growing to love all of it.  But it would all be in my head instead of on paper.

If you never put pen to paper, are you inherently not a writer? It seems so obvious, right? That to be a writer you have to write. Of course you do.

And yet, for whatever reason, I remain unconvinced.

3 thoughts on “The Standard Question”

  1. I think that to be a writer you must, in fact, write. A story-teller, however, can use whatever medium they wish – song, music (without lyrics), dance, ink, paint, charcoal, their own voice, etc. Everyone has a story, but not everyone is a writer.

    That said, those magic moments do come more frequently for some than others, but even then, those who get them frequently must work (to capture those moments and in between bouts of inspiration).

    Writing is work, magic or no.

    1. You’re right, of course. The role of a storyteller vs. a writer is a nuance I really didn’t take into account in this post. I just think it’s an interesting question – if I never wrote again would I still be a writer? I was mostly just being odd and pseudo philosophical ;)

Leave a Reply