PWFC author collageThis month the Writers Ask Writers group has tackled perhaps our most challenging question yet: Why do we write?

One of my earliest attempts at ‘writing’ was an epic poem entitled ‘Susie and the Green Washing Machine’. I’m pretty sure I wrote it for the hell of it, because I felt like it, and I didn’t intend anyone else to read it. I was about six or seven years old, had no notion of publication at the time, and I wasn’t one to stand up and recite verse at family gatherings. The poem itself is obviously crap by any critical standard, but I will always love it just as much as any novel I write. It reminds me that before I had other goals in mind, flexing my imagination was just pure and simple fun.

The foundations of my writing consisted of reading – otherwise I wouldn’t have known what a poem was, or that it was possible to craft such a thing. So one of the fundamental reasons I write is because I have always been a reader. I write because my mum passed on the value of books to me. I write because of all those other writers who have provided me with words to absorb. You might even say I write because of invisible chains of imaginative impulses that stretch back and back through time.

I write if I’m bored. So I’m rarely bored. My heart sinks if I search in my bag and find I’ve forgotten notebook and pen. As a last resort, I can craft stories in my head, although my memory often quickly loses or warps them. Nowadays the ‘Notes’ section of my phone has plenty of phrases and story ideas waiting for my attention.

I write to remember the most significant moments of my life, often in diaries and poems, not for publication.

I write to defy flesh and bone and fly away to other lives, other worlds, and the possibilities they hold. It’s my way of connecting and reconnecting with the world, with myself, with you.

I write for myself, because it’s the only way I can make my stories authentic – if I don’t find meaning and purpose in them, how can I hope that you will?

I write for you, because I want you to be fully submerged in the tale I’m telling, and when you come up for air I want you to have found value in the time you spent in one of my fictional worlds.

I write to try to look life in the eye – both when it thrills me and when it terrorises me. I write to explore the vagaries of human nature, the dichotomy of what is said and what is done.

I write to get to know myself a little better.

I write because it means a story that formed inside my head, while I went about my life in Western Australia, now sits on a shelf in a small library in Virginia, USA. And I get a geeky, writerly thrill about that.

I write because there is always something more waiting to be written.


In the blogs that follow you’ll find five distinct answers to this question of why we write, and yet all of them resonated with me. Annabel Smith talks of ‘the deep satisfaction of pounding at a sentence, a paragraph, and beyond, to create something which others will connect with and be moved by’. Natasha Lester discusses the gifts of both writing and reading, saying, when I am given a story by a writer, I feel it as an abundance: an abundance of experience and of emotion and of people. Dawn Barker describes writing as an escape, an intellectual challenge, and an incredibly frustrating puzzle that gives me immense satisfaction when I solve it’, while Amanda Curtin takes us on a trip to Scotland and a lightbulb moment: ‘So this is what I’m supposed to be doing’. Finally, Emma Chapman provides five reasons for writing, including the lifestyle of a writer: the flexibility of working from home, of being able to travel, and of feeling free.’ I gained great value and insight from their posts this month, and encourage you to click through and read them all.col-md-2

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Annabel Smith
September 25, 2013 1:40 pm

‘I write to try to look life in the eye – both when it thrills me and when it terrorises me’ – love this!