Why do you write?
I’m sure you’ve asked yourself this question countless times before. Or maybe others have sought an answer from you because they were curious, or wanted to feel inspired.
You might be tempted to answer “logically.” You’re good with words, so you managed to turn a hobby into a career. You want to help people. You don’t want your ability to communicate clearly to go to waste.
At least, when you’re having a good day.
When you aren’t, you might not have much of an answer for yourself or those querying. You might wonder if you should even be writing at all.
The truth is, there are only a few things that turn a hopeful aspiring writer into a successful, productive novelist, journalist, screenwriter, or blogger.
One of those things is that for them, writing is something they do out of both want and need.
If you’re convinced you write because it’s practical or beneficial or it pleases others, take a moment to consider that maybe there doesn’t always have to be a reason for everything you do.
Don’t do it because it might launch your career.
Don’t do it because everyone else is.
Don’t do it because those close to you expect you to do it, or would be disappointed if you didn’t.
Do it because you want to.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to respond to the “why are you a writer” question with “because I want more excuses to write.” It’s not at all a stable career path, the chances of a six-figure income are next to none, and sometimes it feels like everyone else is already doing what I’m trying to.
I write because it feels good. Because it’s who I am. Because I. Just. Want. To.
We don’t always need a “good” reason for doing what we like to do. Before I’d officially decided to try making a career out of writing, I’d actually get annoyed when people assumed I wanted to be “the next JK Rowling” or whatever. No! Was I not allowed to write simply because it gave me life? Joy? A purpose?
If you ever find yourself unhappy with your job, too preoccupied to enjoy your writing time, dealing with darkness even words can’t fix, then you need one last thread of hope to hold onto. And that has to be, when nothing else is there, the fact that you write because you want to tell stories and make the world a better place while doing it.
Above all else, write because it matters to you. Whether or not you can turn it into a source of income, join a community, and delight your family and friends doesn’t matter if the thing that ultimately drives you is that you couldn’t stop writing even if you tried.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.