Why do we write?

The October 2009 issue of The Writer has a short feature reflecting upon how many great writers have described the writing process as tortuous. George Orwell is quoted as referring to writing as, “a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness.” When I was in college, one of my professors assigned us to create a metaphor for our writing life. He said, “And no more essays comparing writing to vomiting!” (I read one of these vomit-writing essays when I worked as a writing tutor, and the common theme was: you know you have to do it, you know you’ll feel better when you do it, but you STILL resist doing it. After you’ve done it, you’re amazed at how much better you feel. And although I’m emetophobic, I can relate to this metaphor — as clearly most writers can, based on the fact that it had become cliche.)

I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on how writers–myself included–seem to loathe writing at times. So why do we do it? Why do you do it? For curiosity’s sake, I created a poll to find out. I’d love if you’d share it with all the writers you know.


Also, I apologize that you can only select one answer, since I’m sure your reasons are varied, as are mine. Please select your primary motivating factor. My answer? Because I feel crappy when I don’t.

One Response to Why do we write?

  1. Jenny says:

    Where’s the “all of the above” button, LOL? I had to go with pleasurable, though, because from where I’m sitting, anyone who can complain about how horrible, wrenching, and difficult writing is has obviously never attempted to go grocery shopping with four little boys in tow. 😉 I LOVE writing!!!

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