Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Nine Writing Things: Reasons to Write

There are millions and millions of reasons to write. Seriously, a basic Google search turned up 210,000,000. Today, I have nine for you. These are some of my reasons. (Reasons like "because I want to think about [interchangeable male character] naked" and "to evict old story ideas and clear out space in my head" didn't make the list. Sorry.) Maybe you can identify with them. Maybe you think I'm crazy. Maybe you're someone I know here to find out why I do what I do. Maybe I'll just make you feel better about your own reasons to write because yours are better.

1. There's something missing in your life.
New romance. Adventure. Attractive naked men doing your bidding. Zombie killing. Flying cars. Attractive naked men pulling pranks on other attractive naked men that lead to naked oil wrestling. What? I'm sorry. The point is, writing is a great way to get something you feel is missing from your life.

2. To live more than one life.
I like my life. It's pretty cool. I've got a hot husband, a smart kid, a great family, awesome friends, and some hobbies and interests that keep me entertained. But it's only one life. I'm not a spy or a supervillain or a hooker or a vampire or a dominatrix or a commando or a werewolf hunter. Writing lets me be those other things without giving up the comfort and safety of my relatively boring life.

3. Catharsis.
Sometimes, bad things happen. Sometimes, really bad things happen. And sometimes, the best way to deal with those really bad things is to just write about them. Make someone else--your characters--deal with the situation and you can deal with it, too.

4. To give voice to the characters in your head.
Most writers I know are not alone in their heads. We've all got a pretty solid grip on reality, don't get me wrong, but there's no way I could talk to my mother or husband about the harem of muses without them looking at me like I'm nuts and scheduling me a visit with the head shrinker. Characters are born and grow up and have adventures and become real in a writer's mind. They deserve to have their stories told. 

5. To figure something out.
Dump your characters into a problem situation and let them figure it out. Or set up a conversation so the characters can talk out a problem until they come to a solution. Sometimes, this is the best way to figure out real-life things.

6. To do something you really want to do but can't.
Do you really really want to go skydiving but can't because you're pregnant? Or maybe you really really want to see the surface of the moon but you can't build a spaceship because you're terrible at math. Everyone wants to do something they can't do, either because they're physically limited or because they're scared of the social consequences. Writing helps you do those things. It certainly helps me.

7. To escape.
When I was a kid and teenager, I used writing in the same way I used reading: it was a nice escape. It still works. Sometimes, you just need to get away from your life and writing is a really good way to do that. When you write, you create your new, perfect world.

8. To give voice to things you can't say in your normal life.
Social pressure is tough. Propriety keeps us from telling that horrible woman we work with that she needs to feed herself to a ravenous horde of Danny Boyle zombies. Fear keeps us from telling the adorable barista that you want to bite his biceps. But you can do those things in your writing. Not that I know this from personal experience or anything.

9. For fun.
And sometimes writing is just like arts and crafts or playing video games or going to the movies or doing a crossword puzzle. Sometimes, the best reason to do it just because you want to have some fun. There's nothing quite as awesome as endless possibilities, and that's exactly what you get when you write.

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