Poll: Why do you write?

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Sanderling
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Poll: Why do you write?

Post by Sanderling » December 19th, 2011, 2:41 am

I just finished the first draft of my latest WIP. Toward the end I couldn't stop thinking about it, and was escaping to my computer for long stretches, writing 4000+ words a day. The discussion came up with my husband from this about the enjoyment of writing - he expressed surprise that I took so much pleasure from the process, that I enjoyed doing it so much. He'd heard some interviews with authors (he didn't specify who) where the author really didn't enjoy writing all that much; it seemed like they wrote more to scratch an itch (because otherwise it pesters you more till it becomes impossible to ignore) rather than because they found the act of writing actually pleasurable. Drafting for me feels as enjoyable as being sucked into an awesome page-turner, so I have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that some people might not enjoy it.

So I'm curious: Do you enjoy drafting? Or do you write in order to scratch an itch?
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"Because if you have at least a modicum of talent and if you live by these six rules, you will make it."
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polymath
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Re: Poll: Why do you write?

Post by polymath » December 19th, 2011, 4:38 am

I spent a half century wondering why I have a dominant passion for writing. Finding satisfactory answers was both inspirational and crushing. Nonetheless, my writing pursuits have advanced my personal growth as well as my writing growth. In one sense, the answer came to me from realizing that no one really listens to me when I speak. My ethos in many arenas is severely influenced by my desire to stay below the radar of contemptuous, often harmful public attention. No credibilty from which to be heard and respected, no confidence in my opinions, my messages, my creative imagination, no standing from which to be respected. That's a cruely cognitive dissonance in that I want to be heard by a large and approving, eager audience, but don't want to be under a limelight's penetrating glare live and improvising as I express myself.

Writing it out allows me to marshall my thoughts and ideas and opinions more persuasively than speaking does, allows me to complete expressing complex thoughts without crippling distractions from ad nauseam, ad hominem, and tu quoque interruptions, hecklers, allows me to get it all down and evaluate my expression before publishing to a discerning, critical, fickle audience.

Those above are pragmatic answers. The aesthetical answer is more subtle and profound. Because I have poor in-person social skills, I easily alienate my acquaintances. I'm shunned by most people eventually, if not sooner, because I don't conform to some presupposed notion of a normative behavioral expectation. I suffer from a dissociative condition similar in some regards to autism, Asperger's syndrome, or other unspecified dissociative spectrum conditions of the same vein. But I'm so high functioning, "otherwise well-adjusted," I'm expected by default to abide conflicting, notional social conventions. I just don't pick up on social cues most people take for granted. Humiliation and frustration are my lot in life. Fear of the consequences like stigmatizing me or using knowledge about my condition against me or for another person's gain at my expense or as a way to toy with my emotions for some bizarre parlor gag causes me to withold otherwise useful tips on how to prevent me from dissociating, like don't put me in a crowded situation so I don't become anxious, irritable, and go off in the head and humiliate myself further. Uncalled-for negative evaluations also set me off, about me or about others.

Problem is many people want me to be someone I'm not able to be. They strive to advise me, change me, coerce me into being a rigorous follower of their capricious notions of social value standards. When they realize how strange and intractably alterable and incapable of otherwise changing I actually am, they turn a cold shoulder my way, then shun me, duck me, avoid me, bar me from their lives. The condition does negatively impact my daily living functions, only not quite enough to label me one or another clinically dysfunctional category. I have some coping mechanisms, some healthy, some not, some discarded, some permanent, none, per se, cures.

Like writing. Writing is my sanctuary, my retreat for when I have dissociated from the harshness of daily living and seek reintegration with the larger world. I read to connect back to the world. I write to connect with the larger world or at least my own small portion of an open-minded and understanding, tolerant, respectful community audience.

It's an itch and a consolation for me to write, and one in which I've come to thoroughly enjoy the whole process no matter the stage, phase, or degree. Lately more so, as my confidence has been boosted by both wider acceptance of my writing and my emerging skills, and my growing artfully deft usage of them.
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writersink
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Re: Poll: Why do you write?

Post by writersink » December 19th, 2011, 8:25 am

I completely agree with everything Polymath said.

Writing is an itch I have to scratch and at the same time something I enjoy. I both love it and hate it. I dislike actually getting started- like taking time out of the day and putting on the laptop and focussing on one thing for at least an hour. However, once I'm into the flow I love it. For me, its the sense that I've invested so much time into my writing that it just wouldn't feel right if I just left my characters hanging in space. Everytime I have that stroke of brilliance, that moment of inspiration, it makes up for all those hours I spent staring at an empty computer screen.

I personally think every writer out there is certifiably insane. We write because we want to get lost in another's world, and we want to be the ones who call the shots, hence my favourite quotation:
You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. ~Ray Bradbury

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Quill
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Re: Poll: Why do you write?

Post by Quill » December 19th, 2011, 10:16 am

For me writing is a creative outlet. I am an artist. I work in other mediums beside words, but words are a primary one. If I don't express my creativity, my quality of life suffers. For me this expression is almost as much of a necessity as food, water, and shelter.

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Re: Poll: Why do you write?

Post by dios4vida » December 19th, 2011, 10:50 am

I'm a lot like Quill, though I have no artistic talent outside of writing.

Writing is my passion. I'm one of those strange breeds who feels like I was born to write. This is what I've always wanted to do with my life, ever since I was six. I can't imagine my life without writing. I've tried to quit, but I just can't stay away.

For the most part, I really enjoy the writing process. It's hard and I get discouraged/disheartened/frustrated a lot, but it's like I'm a glutton for punishment. I keep coming back for more. The enjoyment of watching stories unfolding and the satisfaction of getting that right twist, perfect turn of phrase, or finding that you've set up a perfect foreshadowing for this event without even noticing it are like drugs to me. They give me a high, a buzz, that I just can't get enough of. The "downs" of depression ("I'll never get this right! I screwed this one up beyond repair!") are killer, but even in the throes of that, I still come back to get it right.
Last edited by dios4vida on December 19th, 2011, 5:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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Re: Poll: Why do you write?

Post by Margo » December 19th, 2011, 4:01 pm

1) Because it is my personal version of therapy.
2) Because it satisfies a spiritual need in me.
3) Because I enjoy applying technical craft to creativity.
4) Because I like money and freedom. (I'm currently giving up the latter for more of the former. It's a long-term strategy.)
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/

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Re: Poll: Why do you write?

Post by Mira » December 19th, 2011, 5:32 pm

Polymath, that was so vulnerable and touching. Thank you. I'm so sorry you've had a hard time finding people who really 'get' you.

I totally identify, I've had a very similar problem. And I write for the same reason. I have things I want to say, things that are deeply important to me, and I want to be heard.

In terms of your other question, Sanderling, I seriously dislike the initial part of writing - it's scary for me. I love, love, love editing, the more meticulous, the more fun it is.

Great question!

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Ryan
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Re: Poll: Why do you write?

Post by Ryan » December 20th, 2011, 12:37 pm

I enjoy it all. The process of taking an initial idea into the explosive first draft and carving it into a 'finished' piece is really rewarding.

That word rewarding keeps popping up lately. I've been telling people that life is the most rewarding its every been with my book release and being a Dad, but it's not as much FUN as it used to be!
My love of fly fishing and surfing connects me to rivers and the ocean. Time with water reminds me to pursue those silly little streams of thought that run rampant in my head.
http://www.withoutrain.com/

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Re: Poll: Why do you write?

Post by wilderness » December 20th, 2011, 1:45 pm

Polymath, thanks for sharing with us. It's wonderful that writing is an outlet for you to express yourself and to maybe do it better than you can in person. I think we all feel that way a little, maybe not to the same extent. Writing is a perfect way to clarify your own thoughts and beliefs. We are all trying to tell a story, but more than that we are trying to share the human experience. For me, books were something I could retreat to as a child, especially since I was a bit of a nerd and didn't always have much of a social life. Lonely Saturdays never felt lonely with an adventure story on hand! Since I loved books so much while growing up, I've wanted to give back and reach out to other young people. That's why I got into writing YA.

To answer the original question, a little of column A and a little of column B. Sometimes I immensely enjoy writing -- when ideas are practically leaping onto the page. Other times, when I am stuck, or I know what I want to happen but not how to express it, it can be excruciating.

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polymath
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Re: Poll: Why do you write?

Post by polymath » December 20th, 2011, 4:21 pm

Thanks, writersink, Mira, and wilderness. Your warm embraces are most welcome. I'd be content if people I associate with in person were more understanding, tolerant, trusting, and respectful, as you-all are.. I'm not a violent person. It's not possible with my condition. Verbally abusive is another matter I have tried to put behind me somewhat successfully. I'm a volcanic cynic, not merely hard-boiled. I don't need people to "get me." One would do. Unfortunately, the people I do attract are more emotionally crippled than me. Unlike me, they don't want to face the harsh truths. Like attracts like though. Perhaps I have to work on opposites attract. A desirable outcome from my writing: connecting with an ideal audience of one.
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Re: Poll: Why do you write?

Post by Falls Apart » December 27th, 2011, 7:03 pm

Personally, for me? I guess it's more like scratching an itch. I mean, I can't not write. I literally can't remember a time when I wasn't working on writing a novel. Ever since I was six or seven, I've been working on some sort of project. Of course, they varied in quality... but it would take a conscious effort for me not to write.

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Re: Poll: Why do you write?

Post by Cookie » December 28th, 2011, 5:27 pm

Quill wrote:For me writing is a creative outlet. I am an artist. I work in other mediums beside words, but words are a primary one. If I don't express my creativity, my quality of life suffers. For me this expression is almost as much of a necessity as food, water, and shelter.
Ditto.

If I don't set aside time to let my creativity run free, I become miserable. Much like a chained dog. You don't want to see me when I neglect my creativity. I've destroyed many souls in that state. It wasn't pretty.

I think the thing I love the most about writing is the world-building, or embarking on an unknown journey into uncharted territory. I like to create beautiful things, whether with pen, pencil or paintbrush.

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Re: Poll: Why do you write?

Post by Rachel Ventura » January 13th, 2012, 5:34 pm

writersink wrote:I completely agree with everything Polymath said.
Polymath is too smart :D so I completely didn't understand anything s/he said. ;) I also came here looking for a push-button "poll" but was pleasantly surprised to find something more detailed.

I have no problem coming up with ideas. And I have an itch to scratch to put them in motion, but the itch/scratch has developed into a rash, and so now I'm swamped with ideas and unable to pick which one to do. (In the end I don't do anything.) For me it's because I am a creative person by nature, and want to do something that requires a little more thinking power than some stupid crap on YouTube. I am also a very introverted and self-deprecating person, so the relative "anonymity" (i.e. no photos or video required, at least not for now) of the writer's life obviously appeals to me. That said, I still want to be recognized (and then some) without having to self-market or promote; for certain things, the best way to go is not always "if you want something done right ("write"), better do it yourself." Reason being I believe in the soul of my work and not the writer; I don't want to hear about anybody's personal life, nor do I want to talk about my own, which is why I don't bother with the navel-gazing, master-of-your-domain-name type of activity (hint, hint) that is Internet "social" networking.

Although without that DIY ethic, computer nerds wouldn't have sex. :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

I'm not enough of a narcissist to be an active self-promoter. I'm also not a capitalist and therefore don't care about business or marketing; I'm very much a banned word, in fact, despite being so anti-social! ;) Reason being I care more about other people than I do about myself, though that sounds contrary to what I said above; in all actuality, I find asking questions about people's private lives to be horribly intrusive, and would expect the same respect for privacy extended mutually in my direction too. So I don't ask people how is X going or how is Y, but in a more general sense I care (albeit privately) about how things in society are affecting us all, even though I'm not much for water-cooler banter or shoulder-leaning. The things I write (or come up with, anyway) usually have some major social issue as a theme, be it sexual abuse, economic inequality, bullying/discrimination, etc. I consider myself to be just as much an artist as a political protester, but also an entertainer, in that often what I write (and even say) has some humorous bent to it. I'm not enough of a narcissist to run for political office either (in fact, I'm not a narcissist at all); I'm certainly self-deprecating enough to be a comedian, but I'm not too keen on "stage presence," and I object to the nature of publishing being more of a popularity contest for the author than an evaluation of the quality or content of the work. I also object to it being as much about computer savvy and schmoozing on Wastebook rather than about legitimate talent and a genuine interest in one's work and/or the reader. I don't like pretentiousness, but for Gaia's sake I'm not a Twitard either. Not everyone is Timothy Ferriss and not everyone wants to or should be.

It's why I can't stand Lady Gaga. Her whole act is just that, a gimmick, more about what new Halloween costume she's going to put on and what new fancy button she's going to push on her Moog synthesizer than the quality of her music (if you can call it that, and there are some people who do). I think if she had any modicum of real talent she wouldn't need to overcompensate by dressing up in cold cuts or giving her prosthetic baloney a first name. :lol: :lol: :lol: The other reason I mentioned Lady Gaga is because (at least according to her Wikipedia page, so I really don't know if this is accurate or not... because it's Wikipedia) she has a tattoo of a famous quote by the German poet Rainier Maria Rilke:
Rainer Maria Rilke wrote:In the deepest hour of the night, confess to yourself that you would die if you were forbidden to write. And look deep into your heart where it spreads its roots, the answer, and ask yourself, must I write?
https://peterjukes.wordpress.com/rilke-must-i-write/

That too is why I write. Because I don't dance, I don't sing, and I sure as hell don't clean toilets. I don't even have any friends, and my family (relatives) and I have never been on good terms. It's really all I have, though solitude, true solitude, is a luxury for me (because I live at home), but loneliness a fear, so to be alone in a room of one's own with nothing more than my thoughts and my writing, away from the internet and telephone lines and television, away from the shouting matches between my parents when my father gets in another bar fight, is something I aspire to every day. But to have no one appreciate it because they're too distracted or too stupid to care, that's the thing that really makes me and drives me mad. I feel badly for Polymath in that s/he thinks there is something "wrong" with him/her (please confirm your gender so as to avoid any more confusion!); I'm of the mentality that 1) a lot of real people suck so bad they could be Cullens, ;) and 2) that writers, in fact all artists, must be more than a little "crazy" otherwise they're not "artists." Boy, would Van Gogh have been just another mindless doodler, Hemingway a master of ad copy, and Steve Jobs an expert at data entry if they weren't patently insane. And for all I know, Lady Gaga's disco crap could very well be some art form that I don't yet appreciate; I like Warhol, and where's the art in a bunch of drawings of soup cans? The answer is in the message, which another form of "99%" doesn't seem to get. I personally think if Gaga's message is that LGBT people are "normal" and not circus acts to be ridiculed and bullied (which I fervently believe), then... "she's doing it wrong," as the script kiddies say. But then again, maybe her message is that people considered "different" shouldn't try to "blend in." After all, the very nature of a melting pot means that you're guaranteed to get cooked!

The "business" of books is something "crazy" as well, but business isn't delusion or fantasy or schizophrenia or what have you: business' insanity presents itself in other mental disorders like sociopathy and narcissism. So I'm of the belief that writers, while eccentric, aloof, standoffish, and often very much alone, delving into their characters' idiosyncrasies and pondering the nature of human existence, are better off than the so-called "normal" people too wrapped up in the mundane to produce or even contemplate anything of great merit, and better off than the heartless capitalist PR folks who make a damn good living off "personality." It's not that I don't want to be recognized for the work I put in; it's that I'm not comfortable with putting myself out there and selling to people, because I'd feel exploitative, not to mention exploited, and cheap... like a hooker with a chest of gold. (Pun intended.)

Writing is the most fun a girl can have without taking her clothes off. Self-promotion or "hustling," on the other hand, well... that's the world's oldest profession. And all of them "crazy" in their own way. ;)

Steve Jobs wrote:Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward. Maybe they have to be crazy. How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art? Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels? ... While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

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