Why do you write?

February 5th, 2013 by

As you may know, I have been interviewing a slew of screenwriters recently and I’m always fascinated to hear the variety of ways writers go about their craft. Also, too, I have enjoyed researching each writer, reading their scripts, watching their movies, and coming up with what I hope are compelling questions providing informative answers for GITS readers.

But as I was out for my run today, it occurred to me I had been overlooking perhaps the single most fundamental question of all: Why do you write?

I will definitely add that to my list of questions. Moreover I thought it would be a good time to check in with GITS readers and ask the same thing: Why do you write?

Look at this as an opportunity to step back from the whirlwind of your life and reflect on your writing. What are your motivations for writing? Maybe it’s mostly about goals and aspirations. Perhaps it’s tied to the fulfillment you get out of creating something out of nothing.

Whatever the reasons are, I would be interested to see what you have to say, and I suspect the rest of the GITS community would, too.

So again: Why do you write?

20 thoughts on “Why do you write?

  1. Shaula Evans says:

    This is a great questions Scott and I look forward to reading all the answers.

    I write because I enjoy writing. To dig into that statement, my joy in writing comes from a love of language. I was an early and voracious reader. I’ve looked up etymologies all my life. I’ve studied other languages (a few to proficiency plus dabbling in many others). I’ve worked as a translator.

    I suspect people connect to different parts of the process and experience of writing. For me it’s about the nuts and bolts of working with words. It makes me happy, in any context I can think of.

    I’ve written all kinds of business communications: newsletters, job postings, press releases, ad copy. I’ve edited and ghostwritten. I’ve written speeches.

    I don’t love just words: I’m fascinated by the higher levels of fiction and poetry, too: storytelling, narrative, structure, the psychology and social dynamics of characters, eliciting an emotional response in an audience or readership, the power of rhythm and sound, comedy, to name a few. But before I get to the levels of what words can accomplish, I love working with the words themselves.

  2. Not long ago while talking to my middle school-aged daughter about her writing and theater experiences, she’s becoming quite the comedienne, I remembered what became a turning point for me.

    In high school I had a typing class, and during the 10-15 minutes at the end of the period we had free time. I would usually just do homework or free association writing. One day I wrote a piece about one of my teachers and made myself laugh. At the end of the period instead of throwing the paper in the scrap paper box I held onto it and re-read it as I was walking to my next class. On the way across campus a friend of mine snatched it out of my hand and ran off.

    At lunch I discovered that my humorous little flight of fancy had been passed around to most of my friends who thought it was pretty funny. The next day I was asked about it by people I barely knew. I suddenly had a small following and they were asking for more, so I obliged.

    There are few things more addicting than praise and laughter. I’ve been chasing that first high ever since.

    After telling my daughter this story she sighed and said, “Well that will never happen to me. We don’t have typewriters or typing class, and we’re not allowed to waste paper.”


  3. Nick Scott says:

    It’s something I do well.
    It’s one of the cheapest ways to create.
    I want to beat the odds.

  4. There’s more than one reason,some more noble than others, but the primary one is I literally start to go crazy if I don’t.

  5. Jon DeYoung says:

    In my case, it’s to do something creative. I don’t currently possess the skills to express myself in music, painting, or computer programming, and writing can be done with just you, a paper, pen, and the words. And the person you hope to enjoy it.

  6. Debbie Moon says:

    By this stage, it’s just… what I do. I pass someone in the street, I start speculating about their life. I see an interesting building, I wonder who lives there. I see a movie, I start rewriting the bad bits in my head as I leave the cinema.

    Part habit, part compulsion, partly because I’ve never been good at anything else – and part because I don’t know how people get through life without writing. I just can’t imagine myself not writing.

  7. Marc Omeyer says:

    Took me a long time to figure out. Because it’s the only way not to be written. By life, birth conditions, by others, by the past, by the misconceptions I had about myself. I write to discover and express who I really am. And that’s a full time job !

  8. Mockwriter says:

    I questioned the same – what are the personal reasons behind why a writer write’s?

    Collection of ‘why?’ can be found on my blog – http://mockthewriter.wordpress.com/category/why-writers-write/ (saves posting them all here).

  9. David Joyner says:

    I used to say that, for me, writing is like going to the bathroom. It’s just something I have to do:-)

    To be frank, I think it is for several reasons.
    (1) I learn more about the world if I am forced to write about it descriptively.
    (2) I learn about myself, since writing is a process of opening up one’s mind and learning one’s likes and dislikes.
    (3) I used to think, I can remember things better after having written about them. Maybe that is still true, but with my flakey memory, now I’m not so sure. I don’t have any special gift for language and seem to be able to forget all sorts of things:-)
    You see the pattern – I’m curious and like learning. Writing does it for me!

  10. Gen says:

    Films are a powerful way to connect people with stories and issues that they wouldn’t otherwise know or care about. That’s why I write.

  11. April Austin says:

    It gives me a voice that most people never hear if they meet me in person because I’m in my head a lot. Writing gives me a freedom to express how I’m really feeling and it allows me to be creative.

  12. John Arends says:

    Why do I write?

    Well, for starters, words matter. Words can and do change the world. And who’s never wanted to do that?

    In wise hands, words connect us to the unattainable. The unthinkable. The previously unknowable.

    Words refuse to let us forget. And they revolt against all who would misuse or abuse them…stubborn, feisty little beggers that they are.

    And when words find the right home, in the right ear and the right heart, they unlock with their music the gates to a world where we’re connected to something larger than ourselves.

    In short, I write because words ignite the arclight of the imagination in ways no kilowatt can measure.

    And I’ve always thought and felt that that’s kinda cool.

  13. Erica R Maier says:

    As an only child, books, movies and TV were my siblings, and I’ve been creating stories ever since I could make letters with my crayons …

    I write because I must. Every composed word fulfills my purpose on this Earth, I believe. And because when I am in the throes of writing, it’s a rush like no other.

    I am reminded of a scene in The Mirror Has Two Faces, when Barbra Streisand asks her class why people want to fall in love, to which she’s given a lot of “academic” answers.

    Her answer: “… it feels fucking great.”

    That’s why I write.

    For reference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PnNRf7JHBk

  14. WyWe says:

    The constant fascination with a range of different topics. It’s because of this curiosity, along with a creative mentality, that I am so interested in screenwriting. I think the more you want to know and the more you want to read and research, the more you have at hand when you write. Continually being open to new topics not only provides you with information to write about, but depending on the source of material, it can expose you to different tones that you’re not used to writing with. This is why I respect writers, and directors, who are open to developing stories within different genres or overlapping different subject matter to create such original stories.

  15. Debby Hanoka says:

    I write for two reasons:
    1. It’s something I do well without much effort.
    2. It never occurred to me that I shouldn’t.

  16. …because I can’t sing or dance.

    In all seriousness though, I write because I want to entertain. And I found that my writing is able to do just that.

    Plus, who doesn’t love the movies? I know I have since I was 4 years old, and will until I am long dead.

  17. I think some things are really belong here, while we are destined to go after them. And concsiously we never liked it, we try to make of it some kind of time-spending idea, defined by our mood or whatever other acceptible measure it is.

  18. […] Scott from Go Into The Story asked a great question a while. At the time, still reeling from the agony of my first draft, I had no real answer. As the story begins to gather more form in the second draft, I feel an answer taking shape. […]

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