Why on God’s green earth would anyone want to be a writer? I’m sure there are people in the world who ask this question when they stumble across my blog and so many others out there. I can’t tell you why others do what they do, but I can tell you why I write. It’s quite simple:
I have to exorcise all the little mental demons from my brain.
Okay, that sounds a little creepy and/or insane, but let me explain. I have heard other writers say a similar thing. Some like to say that they write because they have to. They have all of these stories swarming in their head, and they have to put the pen to the paper (or pound on the keys as it were) in order to free their brains from the torment of all the literary critters crawling around their grey matter. The truth is, though, that for 99.9% of us, this is a learned condition. I didn’t have swarmy characters in my brain until I trained myself to see a plot line in everything; to people watch with the intent to write about it later. You’re not born with the insatiable urge to write; you write because it’s something you want to do.
It’s like a drug addiction. You don’t come into the world addicted to crack. You try it first, and then you’re hooked. You start building up a tolerance and then someone organizes an intervention and then you wind up looking like Steven Tyler and wondering where the hell ten years of your life went. Writing is kind of the same thing. You get addicted to it, and you develop a taste for it, so to speak.
I bring this up now because my little brain demons were bouncing around today and I had a hard time focusing on other projects. Specifically, these little demons were concentrated on something in my personal life, though they weren’t focused on anything bad, just something that kept me from focusing on the rough draft I’m trying to finish this week. So I stopped what I was doing, and sat down with a good old-fashioned notebook and pen combo, and started writing – in cursive, that archaic craft! It felt good to move the pen across the page. I use those gel pens that kind of scratch against the paper, and somehow it’s soothing, so it sounded good to move the pen across the page, too.
I wrote four or five pages in the form of a letter about what was bouncing around my head. I left it and came back a few times, adding to it and editing it where the mood struck me. Then, I tore it out of the notebook, stapled the sheets together, folded it in half, and stuck it in the back of one of my journals.
And my mind was silent. The thoughts and feelings that were bouncing around my brain had run their little course down to my hand, through my fingers, out onto the paper, and then were folded up and put away. For the rest of the day, I have felt refreshed. I feel a little bit freer today after doing this.
Sure, I have characters in my head who are waiting for their stories to be written. Some of them are sitting around having coffee with each other, while others are threatening to kill each other if I don’t pull them apart and put their stories down on paper. But, this is not why I write. I write because I tried it one day, and I was hooked. Now, it’s how I get those thoughts flowing, those emotions out, stressors released, and sanity restored.
But mainly, I write because it’s a blast.