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,