Why do we write?

By BJ Lewis

I guess I can’t answer the question of why “we” write. I can only speak for myself. I can speculate about the rest of the community from reading, watching, and listening for the last 50 years. It seems to me, there are a lot more writers these days. Based on the fact that the number of writing programs in colleges, writing conferences and blogs have exploded and the ways in which you can publish your work are now unlimited, it seems easy to conclude people want to write and to be heard, but why this interest?

Enter the question “why do I write?” into any search engine and there are plenty of sites willing to answer. Angel Fire has reasons from many writers, and you can add your own to the list.

Creation has always been a human desire. Watch a child at play and you can see they love to create. They build things, they tell stories and their imaginations are in constant motion. Later in life this is still who we are at our core. Sit at the feet of a grandparent and listen while they tell their stories. Everyone has a compelling story to tell. We all want there to be a reason we lived. Our creations become part of our legacy. Our writing is a creation and will be part of that legacy. As kids, our words, whether written or spoken, were usually a result of an active imagination. All these years later, we have more substantive reasons why we write.

lewisWould you like to hear stories from people all over the country? Try Story Corps.

One of the most important reasons in today’s world to be a good writer is we are moving away from face-to-face interactions and depending more on the written word. People would rather dash off a quick e-mail or text than pick up the phone or walk down the hall. Part of this is due to technology which allows us to have teammates in remote locations. I work with people who are 16 times zones ahead of me. No matter where we are, we need to be able to write and communicate effectively and clearly across time zones and cultures. Once you press “send” there’s no way to know how far that message will travel, how many will read it or how long it will last. You should endeavor to make it a good one.

A good site for business writing is Business Writing Blog.

Words have the ability to move the world. We must only bring to mind the words of Martin Luther King, Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, or Hitler to know how much words can change our world view. Most will never write something as profound as the “I have a dream” speech but we can still influence our world with a well-shaped message. If we write from curiosity to educate ourselves, we will likely educate someone else. The most moving writing is usually the most personal. We are always better when we are passionate about a topic. I have read accounts describing a personal experience which will help the next person having to travel down the same road. Personal memoirs of abuse, death, or some other poignant event in a person’s life always touch me deeply. We are usually at our best when it is a topic we are passionate about. Mark Twain said it best “Write what you know.”

So, why do I write? I write to leave a legacy, to be heard, to share experiences, to communicate, to learn, to feel alive and maybe one day I will change the world.

Why do you write?



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