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Why I Write June 25, 2012

A writer I recently tutored told me, albeit half-jokingly, that because she doesn’t enjoy writing, she doesn’t understand why people write. So here I am: writing to find out why I write. It’s tricky because I’m tempted to start off with “for as long as I can remember, I wrote,” but that’s probably not true. I want to say “we write because we love to,” but even those who love to write, like me, hate it sometimes. So, why do I write? I’d like to make a list:

  • I write to make lists. I’m the type of person who writes out “get groceries” after getting groceries just to cross it out. Lists organize my thoughts—and I did catch that I gave the agency to lists, but it does feel like lists write themselves—, especially when I’m stressed out and overwhelmed about everything I have to do. Lists are there for me, comforting me in their conciseness and specificity, and their eagerness to be crossed out.
  • I write to make sense of things. As a self-proclaimed INTP (see Introverted-iNtuitive-Thinking-Perceiving personality type in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator), things seem complicated at times. Being at a transition period in my life from school life to real life—AKA life after college—, I struggle to make major decisions because I’m afraid of doing something that will “affect” the rest of my life. (Side note: what does that mean anyway? I make some decisions, but fate decides the rest.) Writing out how I feel about different decisions I can make, or options I have, helps me visually understand what I’m thinking, which is a different way to digest my thoughts. This type of writing usually comes in the form of a free write: I let my organized guard down and don’t look back until paragraphs and paragraphs are out on Microsoft Word. Then, I can line things up in terms of preference or priority, and sometimes I even turn things into lists.
  • I write to make something new.  I’ve recently accepted the short-story-writer identity (after a decade of self-denial, convincing myself that I’m a poet…not that the two are mutually exclusive) and my creative writing is a way for me to live. I explore the world from the perspectives of different people, some of whom are older, of a different gender, much more intimidating. Sometimes it feels like I’m living my life through different dimensions. And that’s the most fun because I can make stupid decisions that won’t affect the rest of my life. Although I do write about people very different from me, most of my stories are centered on a character re-defining her identity, or re-establishing her niche in life. I pride myself in being an observant person, which translates to intentionally overhearing conversations on the CTA and eventually an idea for a story. What I’ve noticed is that our identities are not static; we update them not only when obvious changes happen—a new job, a new cat, or a new girlfriend—, but with the subtleties of life, such as dropping my poet identity after multiple rejections from Threshold to publish my poems or, more accurately, because I’m more proud of the stories I’ve written and because my poems are little excuses for stories. But these changes in identity, as many of us experience daily, are temporary.

And I love to write. Without the writer asking me why people write and without writing this post, I wouldn’t have thought about all this. This post has helped me appreciate why writing is so practical to me and practicality is like food for my INTPness.

So, now I’m curious. What do YOU love about writing? I’d love to read about it, so please share. :)

Thanks for stopping by and happy writing,

Martina

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7 Responses to “Why I Write”

  1. gamesfemme Says:

    This is exactly how I feel about my own love of writing. I write to figure out how I feel about things. Sometimes I realize something I didn’t know about myself mid-sentence, which is a very strange sensation indeed! I find that talking something through also helps me make sense of things, but there’s something special about writing. For me, it’s more private (except blogging, I suppose!) and thus I feel more free to explore my own identity through writing than through talking.

    Great post!

  2. Martina M. Says:

    Thanks for responding! I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who discovers as she writes. In that sense, writing is private to me as well, so I totally see what you’re saying (or writing.) And yes, I do agree about the distinction between writing and talking: there’s something more permanent and, therefore, personal about writing. It’s like your thought process leaves a footprint.

  3. Mia Amélie Says:

    I also write lists *after* completing tasks just to cross accomplishments out!
    That said, I especially like your last point. I write because there’s no one way to do it. When I write, it feels like I’m creating a maze and trying to solve it all at the same time. Every now and then I get trapped, hit a dead end, or come to a crossroads. When I’m at that point I know there is still more to the story, more to the poem, more to the essay, more and more. Even when my mind doesn’t know those parts yet, my writing does. Then all of a sudden the next image hits me and the hedge opens. And that is why I write. Writing is creation and discovery all at once.

    • Martina M. Says:

      Mia, thanks for posting! I know exactly what you mean by writing knowing what you don’t yet. That’s why I love to write even when I’m already writing something. I.e. I love to set that poem, paper, or story aside when I’m stuck and just free write.

  4. cburanic Says:

    Do you know why I like these “reasons for writing”? They’re practical! Writing to get organized or to understand the world better is a perfectly valid reasons for writing, same as applying mathematics to everyday things like reorganizing closet spacing. And of course, there’s the part about writing just to be expressive and creative. Everybody should try and accomplish things throughout their day to day lives. Writing down-to-earth poetry or short stories is an exceptionally valid way!

    • Martina M. Says:

      Thanks, Conn! I love the comparison to math. Writing can feel like a logic game or like fitting the pieces of a puzzle together.

  5. Jaida Says:

    I really enjoyed this post, Martina. I feel the same way, although I hate writing at times, that hate comes from me LOVING it so much. Lists have also become a major part of my life, the gratification of crossing things out is just too good to pass up! I could really identify with the last statement you made about reinventing yourself as a writer- crossing over from poet to short story writer- as I am making a similar transition in my life from spoken word poet to page poet. Writing for me is always a push and pull, but I like the fact that its basically inherent- so I can’t really escape it anyway!


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