There are many reasons to write. As I’ve discussed before, if you write, you’re a writer. Own it.
Why do you do it?
Do you get paid?
Do you get off?
Do you weep/rejoice with pen and paper?
Do you do it for the recognition?
Do you do it to change lives?
Plato said that Socrates said “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
Most writers feel compelled to write, as mentioned by Ali Hale in “Five Reasons Why Your Writing Matters (Even if No-One Will Take You Seriously).”
“It’s a calling,” said Hale.
Sure, it’s a calling, but that doesn’t satisfy me. I want to get personal.
I want to know why YOU write.
I want YOU to know why you write.
It’s important to reflect on why you do what you do, whether it’s writing or not.
I encourage all of you not to appeal to common practice, or appeal to popularity, but appeal to yourself.
Know who you are as a writer and why.
The question of ‘Why Write?’ is not a breakthrough idea.
I’m sure you’re not all saying, “Wow I never really thought about why I write before.” It seems like it would be difficult to be a writer without having asked this question. But, it’s important to re-evaluate or re-examine as Socrates would (allegedly) say. Why is an important question, and the answer can be more inspiring than you might expect…
I’ll leave you with an essay by George Orwell titled “Why I Write.”
Leave a comment and let me know why you write, or don’t.
But, at least know for yourself.
On my advice hunt, I’ve come across some pretty harsh advice and criticism about writers, writing, and what it takes to be a writer.
None of which I would label as bad or good, just direct.
I came across a guy tweeting (follow AFW @AdviseWriters) about those who call themselves “aspiring writers”, and how ridiculuous it is to make such a statement. I had never considered this thought, so I wanted to know what other people thought about the subject.
This is what I found.
“25 Things I Want To Say To So-Called ‘Aspiring’ Writers” – By Chuck Wendig
This guy is blunt, and I like it. However, he’s also very serious about the craft. His passion shows through in a unique way (he mentions finding your own style in #7 “FIGURE OUT HOW YOU WRITE, THEN DO THAT”- he’s obviously speaking from experience).
He starts off like this:
“1. No More Aspiring, Dingbats
Here are the two states in which you may exist: person who writes, or person who does not. If you write: you are a writer. If you do not write: you are not. Aspiring is a meaningless null state that romanticizes Not Writing. It’s as ludicrous as saying, ‘I aspire to pick up that piece of paper that fell on the floor.’ Either pick it up or don’t. I don’t want to hear about how your diaper’s full. Take it off or stop talking about it.”
I just got slapped in the face with truth.
See what I mean by blunt? He’s also serious at times (though most of it is bitterly coated in humor). In #17 “MEET THE UNIVERSE IN THE MIDDLE”, he talks about understanding that you have to work and write to be a good writer. Wendig says, “…there exist components of any career (but writing in particular) that are well beyond your grasp. You cannot control everything. Some of it is just left to fate. But, you still have to put in the work.”
I certainly took a punch (#23) from Wendig’s “dubious nuggets of wisdom”.
Thanks for the advice, Chuck.
Another blog post I came across was titled “On Being An ‘Aspiring Writer’” – By J.C. Hutchins
This post is more centered on why you shouldn’t call yourself an aspiring writer.
Hutchins has a similar witty tone with statements like “In my more literal view, the phrase [aspiring writer] means, ‘I am not writing, but am talking and dreaming about writing.’ Which might as well be, ‘I am masturbating.'”
Hutchins states, “If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Own that fact. Be proud of it. Your pen is moving (or your fingers are typing), and that’s a thousand times cooler and more committed than the douchebags who endlessly drone on about the books, poems, plays and movies they’ll never write.”
“You’re either writing, or you aren’t.”, said Hutchins, “But if you’re writing, don’t dare label yourself as an ‘aspiring writer.’ To do so undervalues what you’re doing to you and others…”
Hutchins makes a point, and argues validly.
I especially like the last point of the post, “You don’t need permission to write … and you mustn’t make money to call yourself a writer. Writers write. That’s it. Those who don’t, merely aspire.”
Thanks for your unconventional inspiration for a writer to take pride in the fact that he/she writes, J.C..
In my personal life, I’ve surrounded myself with people who are all very affirming and supportive of my life and choices. It seems like I can do no wrong (boooring). So, when I read advice like this it’s a reality check, and a bit of a refreshing slap in the face.
I enjoy it.
It’s challenging and motivating.
I hope you enjoyed being beat down with truth as much as I did.
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I mentioned quirky obsure writing advice in my last post, and this may be the holy grail of it.
Instead of going straight into the advice, here’s a little background on what I’ll be discussing.
Jack Kerouac was part of a group of writers that started a movement which came to be known as the Beat Generation. None of the writers, including Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs, were very accepting of the title given to them as “beats” or “beatniks”, nevertheless, that is how they are known. You can hear these guys talk a little about the beat generation here.
As I mentioned before, I write mostly poetry. Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg have influenced my writing greatly, with Ginsberg’s poem “Howl“, and Kerouac’s novel “On the Road”, to name a couple.
I’ve always been intrigued by not only their ability to write, but also their lifestyles and friendships.
When writing, especially poetry, it has to come from some place inside, unknown to the world. Many of my poems are a journey of self discovery, taken from a part of me I had no knowledge of existing.
This kind of writing is what Kerouac refers to in his list of 30 writing techniques titled “Belief and Technique for Modern Prose“.
There is no doubt that this list is unconventional with techniques like #3 “Try never get drunk outside yr own house” and #13 “Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition”, but it’s also very inspiring and introspective, such as #2 “Submissive to everything, open, listening”, #8 “Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind”, and #4 “Be in love with yr life”.
Although geared toward prose, these suggestions have much to offer to any writer.
In the article “Jack Kerouac’s List of 30 Beliefs and Techniques for Prose and Life“, Maria Popova refers to Kerouac’s list as not only a “blueprint for writing”, but also “a meditation on life”.
I can’t describe it more adequately.
1.Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
2.Submissive to everything, open, listening
3.Try never get drunk outside yr own house
4.Be in love with yr life
5.Something that you feel will find its own form
6.Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
7.Blow as deep as you want to blow
8.Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
9.The unspeakable visions of the individual
10.No time for poetry but exactly what is
11.Visionary tics shivering in the chest
12.In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
13.Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
14.Like Proust be an old teahead of time
15.Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
16.The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
17.Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
18.Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
19.Accept loss forever
20.Believe in the holy contour of life
21.Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
22.Dont think of words when you stop but to see picture better
23.Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
24.No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
25.Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
26.Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
27.In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
28.Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
29.You’re a Genius all the time
30.Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven
I especially like #29 “You’re a Genius all the time”, #24 “No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge”, and #17 “Write in recollection and amazement for yourself”.
When writing, especially creatively, you have to use your personal experiences, and who is better to delegate your experiences in writing other than you?
Kerouac emphasizes that you are the master of you, and that is something you should be proud of whether writing or not.
Thanks for taking the time to read.
I hope you’ve been inspired.
It’s that simple.
Good writing and bad writing are subjective to the reader. However, nothing good can ever be written without also writing something bad.
I’d like to use this blog for friendly, occasionally obscure, quirky writing advice. I love to write, mostly poetry, and I’ve heard and read so much advice over the years on “How to write”, “What makes a good writer”, and/or “How to improve your writing”.
This isn’t a “How to” advice blog.
This blog is not only meant to inspire or provoke creativity in others, but also myself. I will post about my writing experiences along with a variety of other writers’ experiences, thoughts, and works.
I love quotes.
I’m currently taking a Philosophy class called Logic and Critical Thinking. At the beginning of every class, my teacher starts off with a quote. The quotes are usually someone stating “this particular thing is good/bad and this is why”. The premise of their statement is usually founded on their personal “authority” on the matter. An example would be…”I am a writer. I write during moments of intense emotional frustration. Writing always helps clear my mind. Therefore, any intelligent writer should use writing as therapy. I know it works.”
This quote is based entirely on the fact that writing helps me. However, what’s good for me, may not be good for you. This is precisely why I do not want to tell you how to write, but merely inspire and in turn be inspired, through suggestion.
I think there is one phrase any writer can agree with and that is, writers write.
I really have no authority on the matter of writing. The only reason I call myself a writer is because I write, frequently. I am a 25 year old college student, and I’m irresponsible with my life and love. But, amidst the chaos, there is one thing I’m certain of and that is my passion for writing.
That is what I want to share with you.
A paradoxical statement for a blog about advice, but it clarifies how I feel on the matter…and I love a good paradox.
Take the advice or don’t.
Either way, I hope you enjoy.
This quote along with 29 other quotes about writing can be found here.
I encourage you to check them out.