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The Need to Write

Sometimes I wonder, aren’t there enough writers out there? Aren’t there more stories, articles, blog posts, and books than we can ever read in ten lifetimes? Don’t we have all those great works handed down to us by our gramps and a great deal of enjoyable new books to fill our reading time? What’s the point of trying to write anything new? What’s the point of typing our hours away if it’s not for work or for school or at least for pay? Just to amuse ourselves? Just to nurture our vanity? Just to call ourselves writers?

We write not because we want to become authors or poets or journalists or bloggers or to convince ourselves that we are, but we write because we cannot help it. I think this is true for most of us. Writing simply flows out of us, out of our thoughts, feelings, memories. It may be a refuge, an escape, it may be a way for us to explain, describe, and understand our inner and outer worlds. It may be a burning need, a pressing need, an almost physical sensation, or more of a whimsy thing, more or less felt, something we discover and understand only after we sit down to write. Either way, it tries to get out.

The thought that I write not because I want to but because I have to comforts me. Knowing this, I can allow myself the freedom to write whatever I want and not worry that it is not good enough or not sellable or that people wouldn’t want to share it. It makes writing feel more than an occupation, more like a habit, a necessity even. It does, I think, take off the pressure we may feel whenever we face the blank page, especially after having read a book that we wish we had written ourselves.

If we look at our writing not as something that may sell or not sell, be read or not be read, but rather as a reflection of ourselves, a way to understand, to heal, and to dare to dream, we will enjoy whatever we write even more, and our writing will, most of the time at least, more easily flow.

Do you often feel that you have to write? That if you don’t do it, you will feel odd, or perhaps even inexpressibly unhappy?

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