Do you know why writers write?

I find most reasons writers write are self-centered, inner directed, maybe even self-serving. Don’t get me wrong. I consider writers to be artists and artists create from the self, personal expressions manifested through words or pictures. But I wonder if there could be more to the egocentric responses.”


“Why I Write,” a title of an essay consistently pops up in writing magazines, journals and online blogs telling us why a writer writes—to search for meaning in their lives, to tell a story, or to entertain. The reasons are endless and it may also depend on who the writers are. George Orwell, novelist, essayist and journalist, author of Animal Farm and 1984 fame knows why as he explains in his 1946 essay, “Why I Write.” Writers put pen to paper out of “sheer egoism, aesthetic enthusiasm, historical impulse, and political purpose.”

There’s even detailed research about why writers write.

As a participant in a recent author event, I sat with two memoir writers and together we took part in a panel discussion about writing memoir. We shared our experiences and the how’s and why’s of writing our memoirs.

My panel mate said she wrote her book because it was personal, something she had to do; she needed to tell her personal story. The other said her book came about because she had written several essays and putting them together to make a book was something she wanted to do. Often I’ve given a neutral, fuzzy answer to disguise my lack of coming up with a meaningful answer to why I write. “I took a summer off from work and wrote to figure out what to do next with my life. That was ten years ago and now I have a completed memoir,” I said. When it was my turn to answer, I responded, “. . . because I had a universal theme and relatable experiences.”

_i write to discover what i know._ --flannery o'connor

At the time I was writing my book, yes; I believed my answer to be true. But it wasn’t until after I talked about my published book with others when I noticed a shift in my perspective. Others shared their experiences with me as if we had something in common. They, too, felt as if they didn’t belong, that friendship-making was difficult, that they lacked feeling a home place to be.

When the attention turned from me (the panel) to the audience, the reason I write became evident. It wasn’t about me; it was about others. Engaging in a one-on-one conversation with an audience member made me realize the opportunity for me to give back, to share my knowledge and experience and to offer advice and guidance. Witnessing “aha” moments in their eyes was a fulfilling reward.

The personal element of reaching out to others through sharing my universal themes and experiences is a chance at connecting.

Establishing personal connections is a reason I write.

How does your writing serve you? Or do you see it as serving others?


4 thoughts on “Do you know why writers write?

  1. I absolutely write for me. I must love the theme, the characters, and that means in memoir the real people. That doesn’t mean all those people including me are lovable, but at least I must find them interesting.
    Then I hope and pray that what I have to say resonates with others. It sounds so selfish, doesn’t? But I must be invested in the work to truly make it something more than an exercise, and that means my first audience is me. Otherwise you’re in danger of writing TO the market. I don’t want to be that guy. But that’s just me. What works for others, works for others.

    Liked by 1 person

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