Why do you write?

By Judy Clement Wall

On Twitter, there is this big (kind of wonderful) ongoing discussion happening. People are answering the question, “Why do you write?” (You can scroll through the tweets using the hashtag, #whyiwrite). It’s weirdly beautiful and touching, the honesty (cleverness, humility, cynicism, earnestness, narcissism, generosity) with which people have responded to the question.

When I was in college, my favorite professor asked a class full of writers why we write. I told him I write because I can’t imagine not writing. Coincidentally (because Twitter had not yet been invented) my answer was infinitely tweetable. There is more to it, of course. I write to make sense of the world, to communicate, to connect. I write compulsively to understand, to assert myself, to be read. All of that is true, and all of that adds up to the answer I gave. Despite all the reasons not to, despite the inevitable fear, frustration, criticism, rejection, I write because I can’t imagine not writing.

So… tell me. Why do you write?


JUDY CLEMENT WALL is a Course Presenter for the Fear of Writing Online Course and co-manages the FoW blog with Milli. You can read more of her work at Zebra Sounds.

11 Responses to Why do you write?
  1. cr8dv8
    March 15, 2011 | 2:00 AM

    Because I have all these stories inside me and they won’t come out any other way.

  2. purplekangaroos
    March 15, 2011 | 10:50 AM

    Because it brings me joy and besides I have all these voices in my head clamoring to be heard!

  3. Patti Stafford
    Twitter: pattistafford
    March 15, 2011 | 10:56 AM

    I write because I can relay a message better than with speaking. And with this incessant southern twang I am cursed with–it’s just better that way. LOL

    I write because it gives me time to think about what I’ve just written. If I speak those words it could come out wrong, and usually does. You know the bit, “open mouth, insert foot?” That’s me. LOL

    I also write because I have a lot to say and I really don’t care to do that much talking.


  4. fearofwriting
    Twitter: fearofwriting
    March 15, 2011 | 11:00 AM

    I write because I have ideas bombarding me and to find out what happens in the stories I can see in my mind. I write to search for the answers and solutions I need, and to share them with others. I write hoping to move someone, inspire them or cause them pleasure. I write because I need to express myself and words are my self-expression tools . . . and because I always feel a secret thrill whenever I see the word β€œwriter.”

    • fearofwriting
      Twitter: fearofwriting
      March 15, 2011 | 11:02 AM

      Oops! o_O Mine’s clearly not Tweetable. πŸ˜€

  5. Lois
    March 15, 2011 | 12:29 PM

    I write because I have these characters speaking to me, and I want to get to know them. The only way they’ll tell me anything is if I put pen to paper (or fingers to keys).

    I also write because it’s my favorite way of keeping in touch with friends and family–Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, blogging, or old fashioned letters to be sent through the postal system are all tools for me to express myself. To be honest, I hate talking on the phone (the result, I believe, of a brief foray into telemarketing in my early-20s), but I love to write.

    So, in brief, I write because I want to communicate with my friends and family–both real and imagined. πŸ™‚


  6. Patrick Ross
    Twitter: patrickrwrites
    March 15, 2011 | 1:36 PM

    I’ll share what I tweeted in that exchange (as best I can remember): I write because if I didn’t put all of these thoughts down in written form, I would wander the streets blurting them out to strangers (not that I don’t do that occasionally now).

  7. j
    March 15, 2011 | 2:56 PM

    The first (and second and third and fourth…) time I was asked to read my work publicly, I declined. I said, “If I were comfortable enough to talk publicly, I probably wouldn’t have started writing.” Patti made me think of that.

    The “voices in our heads” has been a common theme in the Twitter feed. I wonder if non-writers realize we aren’t kidding. πŸ˜‰

    • Estrella Azul
      March 15, 2011 | 6:32 PM

      Probably not the best idea to admit to it, but that’s exactly what the voices in my head said I’m supposed to answer to your question, J! (they like you) πŸ˜‰
      And I’m sure non-writers take it as a joke – I know I would if I didn’t know better. But having the voices choose *you* for taking dictation is so much fun, isn’t it?

      I write because there’s nothing else to better keep me on the right track of sanity – or prove the lack thereof all at once πŸ˜‰

      • j
        March 15, 2011 | 8:37 PM

        Ha! I like your voices too! <3

  8. Walker
    March 18, 2011 | 8:14 AM

    I write because it feels like the best way to communicate, to connect, to figure myself out. I’ve always loved to write; when I have issues I write and when I want to express my deepest self I write.

    And, I also like saying I’m a writer! Now, that I’ve gotten bold enough to ‘own’ it!

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