Why do I write?

This was the latest prompt by the wonderful Chuck Wendig over at terribleminds.com.

(Instead of the usual flash fiction, he asked his followers to write an essay on why they write.)

Here’s mine:

Why do I write? Why do I go to bed at 9 so I can wake up at 5 in the morning and write for two hours? Why have I essentially given up playing video games on a regular basis? Why do I write when I remain unpublished, with even a finished novel? Why do I continue to blog when I’ve haphazardly failed at two previous blogs before? Why do I feel this continual need to return to writing after being done with it for a period of time? Why do I “waste” time making up things instead of watching tv, movies or playing video games?

That’s too many questions. I need to write first, ask questions later.

I write because even if I’m not writing, I’m writing. I’m creating worlds, stories and characters in my head. I’m constantly looking at the world and thinking to myself, how could I use that in a story? Or that would be really cool in this story, or what if this happened there? The questions always come to me, regardless of what I’m doing.

It’s why I often appear like I’m daydreaming, or thinking about something else. It’s because I’m often in other worlds in my head. I’m constantly multitasking, being present in the real world while thinking of my stories and ideas. It can cause issues at times, where I realize I wasn’t truly listening to someone and I need to bring myself back into the moment.

I need to spend extra effort to be focused, not because I don’t care about what a person is saying but because I’m constantly in my own head wrangling with the latest plot problem or what I’m going to work on the next chance I have to write. I work out writing issues in my head or plan out the next stages of a story or plan out a new story or come up with a new idea. It’s all going on all the time in this brain-pan of mine. I’ve written hundreds of stories in my head that have never made it to paper.

So why do I write? Because I need to get it down on paper. I need to put it out there, get somebody to listen or witness or read it so that I’m not just crazy and making up worlds for myself. I need to tell stories.

I wonder how it started. I was always making up stories as a kid. I remember, before I could really read, I would look through Calvin and Hobbes comics and make up whatever they were saying. I would create conversations in my head and giggle at my own jokes. I would also play with GI JOES and other action figures, pretending they were anything from secret agents to soldiers to ninjas to batman and superman. I didn’t just have “playfights” between my action figures, I had epic storylines with beginnings, middles and ends. GI JOEs were killed, fought, lost, and won through fierce battles. There was loss, joy and hope. I would choreograph epic conflicts from martial art masterpieces to intense gun fights. I would travel the yard with them, using my dad’s barn, a field of grass, the back of a pickup truck as backgrounds for battles.

It’s the reason I enjoy books, television and movies so much. I enjoy the stories. I live and breath the story. I connect with the characters, fight and struggle with them, feel their loss and hope and love. I sympathize, empathize and criticize the characters. They’re not fictional, not when I’m invested in the world. They’re living and breathing, they’re dying and fighting, they’re human beings.

I need to write, even if very few people see what I’m writing, even if I never sell more than a few books. I need to get these stories on paper. It’s why I take journals and pens when I go to the beach and on the subway on my daily commute.

I got the bug. I gotta write. Right?

What about you? What makes you write or create or do what you do? What drives you?

Take some time and think it over.

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