Why I Write

This post is for a writing challenge in a blog that I subscribe to. Normal programming will return next week.

I thought that limiting this topic to 1000 words was going to be difficult so I decided to talk about the top three reasons I write: 1) It clears my conscience, 2) it keeps me sane, and 3) it forces me to do things I normally wouldn’t.

For me, writing is expressing my opinion in an open way. I don’t hide scribblings in a notebook like a lunatic, I blog and share it whenever possible. This keeps my conscience clear because, like I always tell friends who bitch about things to me, “don’t complain if you’re not going to do something about it”. Writing is what I do best and putting my thoughts down on paper is the most effective way for me to convey ideas to the largest number of people. By doing this on a regular basis, I clarify my thoughts and avoid the jumble of conflicting ideas that cause me anguish.

While my friends may argue to the contrary, sanity has always been important to me.  Our world is full of social and familial pressures in addition to the stress of daily life. Writing allows me to distill all these things, make sense of them, and put order to the chaos that is the inside of my head. Without this outlet, I’m sure my insomnia would be a lot worse and you’d all know my name from a road-rage incident.

It also keeps me sane by allowing for different points of view. A friend recently asked me if the main character in my current story was me. Aside from the fact that I’m not that interesting, my ego isn’t big enough for that. More importantly, the characters need to represent different perspectives, especially ones NOT like mine in order to highlight the things I feel are important by drawing distinctions. While I may disagree with what a character says, I need to understand their motivations in order to effectively make my point. This, more than anything, is a sanity check because it forces me to allow views counter to my own to exist.

Lastly, writing is the best way I know to make me do things that I don’t really want to do. For example, I’m very poorly read. I have a Cliff’s Notes memory for books that serves me well for trivia, but remembering themes and passages isn’t gonna happen. I want to read, I really do. There’s a stack of unread New Yorker magazines on my piano from 15 years ago as testament. However, ever since I committed myself to writing seriously, I renewed my subscription and have been a regular reader of their fiction. I may not finish every piece but I’m making time to expose myself to a wide range of styles.

Another thing that I don’t especially like to do is pay attention to undesirable people. I tend to ignore them and push them to the periphery in the hope that they will just go away. It’s not that I enjoy people more these days, it’s just that I understand how important observation is to my craft. By watching these miscreants and noting their mannerisms, I will be able to recreate them in characters I use in my stories. Honestly, this hasn’t made me more social, but it has expanded my vision regarding the world around me.  The same applies to undesirable conditions in the world. Police brutality, genocide, homelessness, and hunger are always on the front page. They always bothered me, but as a writer, I want to know more about why. I want to know who is involved and what their motivations are. When I drive past indigent people living on the sidewalk, I want to know what kind of people they are and what characteristics they possess.

I’ve reached the end of my list and I barely have over 600 words. Oh well, that’s the over-achiever in me thinking that I had more to say than I really do. Then again, this points out another good reason why I write. The thoughts that float around in my head all seem like great ideas. As I’m taking my nightly walk, phrases and conversations play out in what seem like an endless stream of brilliant prose. Then, when I finally make it to the keyboard and actually put the words onto the screen, some are good, some are boring, and some are downright stupid. What is important is that I actually do the writing and not just think about doing it.

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