Why do you write?

Every writer likes to have a go at answering this (often personal) question at some point in their blogging career, and I suppose I’m no different. What brewing concoction of feelings and emotions do you experience when you put that marvellous brain to paper? And why on Earth do you keep writing, day after day, with no end in sight?

I was recently catching up on Louise Allan’s Writers in the attic series, which if you haven’t come across yet please do head over there ASAP, when I came upon the second story in the series and was hushed into stillness. Michelle Johnston, who was writing on Being a Writer and a Physician, had described, with lyrical dreaminess, what I believe writing would truly look like if it could ever be described:

It is, instead, a world of dazzling stars, of piranhas and bank heists, and dirigibles and zeppelins, and broiling oceans, and vast, dusty Mongolian steppes, and tents gently flapping in the golden evening breeze of the desert, and slow illicit kisses steeped in warm, doomed breath. It is escape and travel. It is wonder and magic.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to come up with something so beautifully demonstrative, filled with glorious imagery and fated whispers of stories yet to be told. Her analogy instantly drove me back to my own imagination, to the years I’ve spent dwelling in my own dreams, my heart aching with longing. I began to wonder, what does writing really mean to me? Why do I write?

For some, it might be because they want to send their stories out into the world like a message in a bottle, floating across the ocean to an unknown destination to hopefully be read and enjoyed by others. And then there are the enigmatic poets, who simply love the complexity and beauty of language and are proficiently adept at playing around with words (and if that’s you, can you please tell me how??)

For me, I always thought that it was the dream of new worlds that I was drawn to – that thrill of creating a new character, the feverish urgency that grips you and refuses to let go, turning you into a hermit for days on end, sunlight and fresh air a distant memory until you get that story down. And while this does play a big part, there is also something else that makes me write… as Johnston mentioned, writing is ‘escape and travel. It is wonder and magic’.

When I was younger, writing was my dearest of friends, keeping me steady and sane during my angsty teenage years. It became a therapeutic counsellor that slowly and surely helped me piece together my self-worth and joie de vivre. I really don’t know how I would have coped otherwise.

By the time I was 19 I had my first novel sitting in my bottom draw.  It didn’t matter that it was terrible and would never see the light of day, all that mattered was that I’d conquered my own personal Mount Everest, the top of which made me realise I could achieve anything if only I set my mind to it.

So why do I write?

For the exhilarating excitement, for the hope and the despair, for the healing and the laughter, and for the strength it has ingrained upon my heart.

Oh… and I also want to be a NYT best-selling author… but I didn’t want to admit that #NothingButTheTruth

83 thoughts

  1. Why do I write. To make sense of the world and the people in it, who sometimes make no sense at all. To process events, and situations I have witnessed or been involved with.
    At times, if I could not write, I think I would go a bit daft. An interesting question. Also I like to see my own creativity in action, and it’s results.

    Thanks for checking out a recent post. I am glad you enjoyed it, and for choosing to follow what I write. I appreciate it.



  2. This is beautiful, honestly thank you I needed to see this to be able to figure out how to express why I write too. Also your writing style is amazing, and I can’t believe I just found you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post! Writing is hard work, exciting too — you never know where your imagination will take you and who will notice your creativity. I write because it gives me energy. When I start to write about something — no matter how insignificant it seems at the time — the more I write, the more I produce and the more I can’t stop. I always feel like I have to say something. I started writing when was nine years old because I liked expressing my opinions about all sorts of things (especially animals and ethics), and also loved to invent stories (mostly about horses). When I was a kid we didn’t have Internet and blogs. If that had been the case, I would have been blogging like crazy. As an adult I love to blog. I cannot imagine a life without writing, so I’ll just keep on…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post, Milly. Seeing you interact with writers you admire (in the comments above) was also a genuine treat.

    I write because I must. It’s my self-expression, way to contextualize the abstract and unknowable, passport to new worlds, and, hopefully with hard work, my path to upward mobility.


  5. “…, and for the strength it has ingrained upon my heart.”

    That’s what makes you write with uniqueness and makes people want to know more, read more from you. My two cents. If someone else describes why they write in an eloquent and descriptive way, which you felt like magic, that’s about them; your eloquent description captivated me too.

    Hi Milly, I ‘found’ you on OM blog and enjoyed your interview post with the ‘legends’.
    Your about page made me stay and follow. So you can add to your research that people follow others because they trust the judgement of other bloggers. Still, what really made me push the ‘follow’ button was your writing style.

    Ah, and I totally related to writing being your dearest friend when younger. I even have something similar in my about page.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I write when I’m bored, when I’m anxious, when I’m happy, sad, etc. I write for therapeutic reasons, but also because my mind needs it, I like to see words, I like to share them with the world. Also great post, writing is awesome!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This post really resonated with some of my own motivations.

    I write because I have to. It’s a part of me, and I could give it up no more than I could give up breathing. I have to get the words and characters and scenes churning around in my mind down on paper or I fear I’ll go insane!!

    I also write because I love it. I’ve learned so much about myself and the world by writing, and there’s nothing better than the feeling of accomplishment when you jot down that final full stop on a story that’s wrung you dry!

    I think it’s important for a writer to have a firm understanding of why they do what they do. In pursuit of this goal, I’m about to put together a series of posts on my writing journey to date, reflecting on the (sometimes hard) lessons I’ve learned and how my motivations have changed over time.

    Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What a thrill to read this, Milly. We’re the lucky ones, we writers. We get to have all these wonders, anytime we want, with just a bit of hard-work. Like you, I wouldn’t swap the writer’s life for anything. Thank you for your words. (And yes! You must come up to Louise’s attic. It’s a marvellous place – jam-packed with extraordinary writers, partying with words, and generally having an excellent time together 🙂 )

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Hi Michelle!! Thanks so much for stopping by 🙂 I had so much fun reading your story over at the Writer’s Attic – sounds like the place to be! Yes, how lucky are we 🙂 I wouldn’t trade this life (even all those lit rejections) for the world! hahaha

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Milly,
    Thank you for letting people know about my attic. I’ve also let Michelle know, as she’ll be thrilled that you loved her writing! (I do, too—it’s very, very special!)
    And please, please write something for the attic! I’d love to share something of yours!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Hi Louise, I absolute LOVE your Attic series, it’s so interesting to read. Michelle’s essay (and that paragraph in particular) really resonated with me, so I simply had to share.
      I would love to write something for your series! I noticed you took submissions, but I was a bit intimidated by everyone’s wonderful essays to be honest 🙂 I’ll see if I can come up with something not too shabby and I’ll send it over!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Please don’t feel intimidated—I’m sure you’re more than up to the mark! You could probably use one of the posts from your blog—even this one! It’s a lovely post, and probably only needs minor tweaking to make it a stand-alone piece.
        Contact me if you have any questions at all about it. 🙂 x

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Hahaha thanks Louise! I’m looking forward to coming up with something – and yes you’re right, I can use a fair bit of this post too.
          Thanks so much (and yep I’ll contact you if/when I have questions!)

          Liked by 2 people

  10. First the picture of this post is mesmerizing! You asked who can play with words? This is gonna sound super cheesy but I think the way you handle words is really beautiful. So maybe you? haha Really thought provoking post and makes me wonder why I write too:)

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I love your writing style Milly – natural, warm, funny and fluent. The line about being ‘hushed into stillness’ captured so beautifully how we writers feel when we read something that really resonates. (And I loved that post by Michelle Johnston, too … in fact I love the entire Writers in the Attic series!). Thanks for this window into your writing world.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hi Fiona, thank you so much! That’s so lovely of you to say that 🙂 Yes, I absolutely love the Writer’s in the Attic series too! I enjoy reading every single post and I’m constantly checking back to see if Louise has put a new essay out 🙂 It’s so interesting hearing about other people’s experience of the #writeslife

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Great post! I write because I love to and I have to. It’s just something in me. Writing is a passion, not a hobby. I’m going to write whether I get published or not. Of course, now I AM published so that doesn’t matter much now. However, with all the ups and downs of this “industry,” it’s not going to change my passion. I’m still going to write regardless.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks!! I’ll continue to write forever as well, published or not (though it would be SO NICE to write full time without needing a day job!!) That is so awesome that you’re published! It’s my current numer one goal in life 🙂


  13. I knew I wanted to be “a writer” when I was 10 years old. The little book I wrote and illustrated for my 5th grade Young Authors submission was selected for recognition by a committee of adults, and it changed my life. I’ve been writing short stories, and branching into novels, ever since. For now, I love blogging, chipping away at finishing three novels, and percolating an idea for a fourth. Plus, I have fond memories of studying Communication Studies, Mass Media, in college, and working on the student newspaper.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s so funny how so many writers know from such an early age exactly what they want to be! I was going back over an old diary from when I was 7 or 8 and I had written, quite clearly “I want to write books when I grow up” – like how on Earth could I have known even waaaay back then?
      How wonderful that you were recognised for your writing at such an early stage!!! I can imagine that must have changed everything for you 🙂


  14. Well, I started writing stories about my work as a security guard because I was angry.

    I had to put up with many instances of unfair treatment and bullying so I started to write about the unhappy encounters at work. That’s a cathartic process.

    And eventually, I collected enough stories to write a book! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. First I love your photo! The stories it brings to my mind! I write for healing, self-awareness, to entertain, and to soften the harshness of reality as I bring hope to those who need it. I write for so many different reasons and that is why writing is so magical. Thanks for sharing and I’m with you–being a best selling author would be amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you liked the photo 🙂 I’ve been saving it to use in a blog post for ages becausee becasue I thought it was just so wonderfully magical – as you said, it ignites the imagination! We (as writers) are so lucky to have uncovered the magic and healing that writing can bring!

      And here’s to becoming an NYT best selling author!!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. What a lovely post! Great to hear your personal reasons for writing.

    I’ve never really considered not writing. I started when I was very young, scribbling little stories and poetry. As I got older I just always felt the need to write stories. Now, I do it because I can’t stand it if I don’t. It frustrates me at times but I couldn’t not do it ❤

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you Milly….I truly care about all the words I write, and I obsess about words and word choices. In the case of that comment, I felt very strongly about using that word. Thank you so much for noticing.


  17. I love this it captures the pure thrill and ecstasy and also the little part at the end, I want to write because one day I want to have a published book. It be nice to have that tangible legacy, and be like all those writers I admired as a kid (and even today as an adult). Writing is the deep substance of life. And I’ll always do it. Always.

    Liked by 1 person

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