In my post Progress, Not Perfection, I go on about journaling and, specifically, the use of “prompted” journals. The prompt I was given for my January 1st, 2021 entry was: Why do you write? What does it do for you?
A very good question. One that I have never really considered but will attempt to answer.
But first, let’s see what some other writerly-types have to say about the matter:
“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear…What is going on in these pictures in my mind?” Joan Didion
“If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad.” Lord Byron
“It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.” Stephen King
“Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel like I should be doing something else.” Gloria Steinem
“You don’t write because you want to say something; you write because you’ve got something to say.” F. Scott Fitzgerald
“Writing is the supreme solace.” William Somerset Maugham
“Writers write about what obsesses them.” Anne Rice
So then, why do I write?
The first thing that comes to mind is no great revelation: Because I enjoy the feeling of reading a well-crafted story, that warm sensation of taking in a good book. So, I write in hope of giving that same feeling to others.
Of late, I’ve come to find that the more I write, the more it becomes the only thing I’m remotely good at.
I’ve also found on numerous occasions that I have to write. If I don’t, I become someone my family and friends don’t want to be around: a sullen, irritable, pitiful mess. Like Lord Byron, I go mad.
Writing, then, is an obsession, as Ms. Rice puts it. An almost inexplainable one. It is also therapeutic. Everyone should write, really. The result doesn’t have to be a novel or a story. It could be a poem, just for you. Keep a journal. Write letters, or even well-thought emails. Somehow, put your plaguing thoughts (if you have any) to paper or screen. The only way to know and understand the release you can get, the “supreme solace” you can experience, is to try it.
Finally, I leave you with Terry Pratchett: “Writing is the most fun you can have by yourself.”