Sunday, March 11, 2012

Writing is hard. Why do you do it?

I've heard a lot of different reasons for writing. I want to be famous. I want to get rich like J. K. Rowling. I want to work from my home when my kids are asleep. They run the gamut.

But by far, the most common response I hear is:

"I write for me."

Without accusing these people of lying, I ask: What does that even mean?

I'm not being sarcastic here. I really want to know. Because I sure don't spend hours typing, and correcting, and re-reading, and correcting again, and banging my head into the wall just "for me". I don't get it.

When I do say that to myself, it comes across in one of two ways.

1) A pretentious way of saying "You didn't want to publish me? Well screw you. I didn't write it to be published anyway."

2) As a self defense mechanism. "I actually do want to be published more than anything in the world, but if I tell people that I only write for me, then it won't be so crushing when I get rejection letters."

Whatever the case, though, writing is hard. And to do it well takes a lot of work. "I write for me" isn't strong enough on its own to justify all that work. People who say it must have more specific reasons. I just don't know what they are.

Why do I write?

I have a crippling shyness. It is a real process to get me warmed up in a crowd of people that I don't know.

And then when you do get me talking, I don't shut up. On, and on, and on, and on, about things that they really didn't need to know. (My blogs are more like my talking than my writing.) I've shocked a lot of people that way. They never see it coming. The energizer bunny of rambling.

Let's just say I'm really bad with people. The Supreme Chancellor of All Awkwardness.

And yet, unlike a lot of writers, I am not all that introverted. I need people. I need to communicate with people. To connect with them, and share ideas with them. Everything about me works better when I have someone else there to help me.

As you can see, this creates quite a problem.

That's why writing is perfect for me. I can share ideas, tell a story, make someone laugh or cry. I can connect with someone. But I can type it out, read it a few hundred times, and make sure it says the right thing first.

"I just write for me" will never work in my case. Because I NEED the audience. I need to be heard. I need to be responded to. And writing is the only way I can do that effectively.

I write because I need to communicate.

Why do you write? If "I write for me" is applicable, what does it actually mean to you?

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