What makes writers need to write?

James Runcie is quoted saying in his J.K. Rowling documentary J.K. Rowling A year in the life “For most writers, the act of writing is a form of therapy. A way of making sense of the world and their place within it.”

I started thinking very deeply about this quote last night after watching his documentary, and it got me thinking.

What makes writers need to write? Is it for our mental health? Is it something that gives our lives structure? Is it the discipline of working?

Could it perhaps be a way of escaping the stresses of our everyday lives? Could it be possibly be a form of OCD?

Is it a way of making sense of the world, and our place within it?

In my opinion it could be all of the above; because if we really stop to think about it. It is an escape from the stresses of our everyday lives. It does give us structure. It gives us discipline. It is a very good very healthy mental release, and in some people’s eyes it could be a form of OCD.

Therapy/Mental Health/Stress of everyday life

I’ve always looked at writing as a form of therapy; heck right now it’s the only therapy I can afford. Being able to sitdown and write gives you a very healthy mental release especially from stress. In a way it’s almost like a form of yoga, but without the awkward stretching and sweating, and deep breathing.

As for making sense of the world and my place within it I’d say that I’m young and of course I’m still trying to figure it out. I don’t even think that we have it figured out 90% of the time; we just simply shrug and go with it hoping to figure something out along the way.

The OCD

Well I don’t think that I could very long with writing something, and if I do I’m usually thinking “Gee I really need to write.” Be it my book, a song, or a blog post I always feel the need to write.

Discipline

Writing is discipline in itself just the rules of writing alone keeps you on your toes. Not to mention everything that revolves around writing your story.

Structure

Life can certainly get messy and crazy when you write it seems like you can clear your head and prioritize things better than you might have done before.

That’s my opinion anyway, but what about you?

What’s your opinion?

Why do you think writers need to write?

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34 thoughts on “What makes writers need to write?

  1. When I get out of the habit of writing I get so frustrated with myself that I haven’t produced anything. There’s definitely that itch to write when I’ve gone too long without getting something down. Even when I do get something down, I get a sick feeling (like a ball in my throat) when I’m writing and it’s not coming out the way I want it to. It’s both cathartic and torturous. I’ve read several times though that that “is the artist’s life!” I like writing comedy and people sometimes think that it’s just a thing I do for pleasure, but a lot of sweat and Diet Coke’s go into it. 😀

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  2. Like most of us I write for several reasons. By recording 1950s life stories I want to preserve everyday life of that time. I also enjoy the challenge of playing with words to produce what I want to say. But mainly I write because it appeals to me a lot more than watching TV. I write because I can.

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  3. Wow cool post, I particularly like your view on discipline – I find that my creativity is a discipline all by itself, I don’t need to actually ‘discipline’ myself into writing – how lucky are we! Yeah right… 🙂

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  4. I agree that writing is very therapeutic, it’s certainly helped me in the past, it’s a nice way to escape reality and go off into your own little world you’re creating. Aside from being therapeutic, I just find it really fun and it’s free(!) and that’s always a bonus.

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  5. It’s definitely different for every author. I’ve met some that do it for therapy and others that openly do it because they think it’s an easy way to make money. Personally, I find it a great escape from reality. I tend to daydream a lot, so this gives me an outlet for the images in my mind. I guess I can also say I’m fighting to rationalize my English Writing Arts degree. 🙂

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  6. I write for the magic. I can think and think and think about a story, but when I start writing, there’s always magic. New ideas, new characters, new turns of phrase, surprising insights, and an entire host of things that make me wonder who’s driving this bus of mine. There are certainly elements of OCD in the process (hypergraphia), but the writing came when I was a little kid, and there’s no way of explaining why reading and writing, captured my attention above all other things. At times I think we don’t chose writing, writing chooses us 🙂

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  7. I definitely think people write as a form of therapy. With blogging, I feel like people desire a connection with others whereas with journal or diary writing, people want to find closure within themselves. I blog for two reasons: 1) in the hopes people will be able to relate with me and 2) to build a portfolio (I want to be a journalist). But I also keep a private journal for when I need to find closure within myself or with God or whatever…:))

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  8. [Sorry to be such a windbag here, but this one really rang my bell, and all kinds of alarms went off in my head reading it, given the many years I’ve spent in the trenches as a professional writer and editor, what I’ve seen and learned] Very interesting question you pose in the post. But honestly? “Therapy” in my book (or IMHO) is the wrong word for what it is a serious writer is trying to achieve. Only in the last ten years or so has anything and everything one pursues creatively with passion become denoted as “therapy.” Signs of the times maybe, a result certainly of the rise of modern psychiatric theory having corrupted our speech and critical thinking with its handy dandy metaphoric shorthand. But “therapy” is a way too simplistic and demeaning explanation of the human creative impulse! Behind the ardor, discipline and commitment in the lives of most serious writers and artists is a purer motive, I have found (and I know and have interviewed for major media many of the biggest names). It is the urge, the urgent desire if you will, to make something meaningful, beautiful and enduring as a gift to the world. Writers and artists often feel an obligation in this regard, which, if thwarted or ignored, turns into pathological guilt and manifests itself as “bad” behavior. Accepting the vocational call should not be termed therapy (a real misnomer) but a healthy honorable choice and a worthy one. As for “meaning?” Read Victor Frankl’s classic MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING. Human beings must have “meaning,” it’s a psychological necessity ,not a sign of weakness or illness, and the effort to make sense of our lives and world is an ongoing, seemingly endless effort. Forgive the rant, but I felt it was important to raise these issues…. at least for the sake of discussion.

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  9. Chelsea…Clearly you are a committed serious writer. I really like your blog and you have some seriously cool with-it fans.! I sense you will survive the hard knocks all young writers receive, learn from them and eventually thrive in the writing arena. Go for it, grrrrl!

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  10. (Note: I’m a young writer who is just learning and love to hear your advice)
    I write for a lot of reasons. It’s hard to say why I write. I probably write to both entertain people and teach them. I like to mix moral into the characters, lives, events, and action. A lot of times, when I have a story I NEED to write, it’s because I want to learn more about the character and what happens. I find it magical to create a story that can take you places where you meet interesting people. Reading is ALMOST just as fun. 🙂

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  11. I write because I’ve made it a habit. I loved writing, but I could never commit myself to writing a book, so a few months back, I dedicated any time I could get from everyday writing a bit. Now, my mind wanders whenever I don’t. I have made writing my little drug (hehe!).

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  12. Paper never walks away from you when you’re pouring your heart out.

    Well at least that’s one of my thoughts on why we write. It’s therapy but it’s also a great creative outlet. It’s why I take photographs, and make films, and play guitar, and paint, and act. If I don’t express my creative soul, I suffocate.

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  13. Ray Bradbury once said that writing is not work. If you think it is, you should stop and find something else to do. Writing should be fun.

    I started writing when I was little just because I wanted to be like Dr. Seuss. It was the only thing I was good at growing up. I couldn’t (and still can’t) draw a straight line even with a ruler, but writing came easy for me.

    If writing was a form of OCD or necessary for our mental state of mind, then there wouldn’t be any such thing as writer’s block. Instead of staring at a blank screen or blank scrap of paper all the time and wishing I was a published author I’d actually be one or actually write. As much as I love writing I don’t feel I “need” to write. I want to. That”s the beauty of art. You do what you love.

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  14. It’s true in a sense that it’s for our psyche… it helps a lot to write. It’s also a way for me to get things clearer in my head… to help me find myself… by imagination 🙂 It’s relaxing and fun! Enables me to get out of the routine.

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  15. i carry notebooks with me. an idea hits me or a dream or something…and i’m scribbling. when time allows…i begin to tap it out…usually i will begin one story and another will be screaming in my head (the voice is not unlike joe pesci’s) “hey, HEY! Hey, you savage muther (bleep) you! I’m tawkin’ ovah heah!! whattabout me? whattabout my story? hah?” and then i will scribble out a few details and return to my work in progress. Then, “What? dat’s it? scribble scribble is all i’m (bleep)in’ worth to you?? just remember, pal, i own you! You try sleepin’ tonight, i’ll be all up in your (bleep) head keepin you awake, capische??”
    i think i need my pills…

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