Friday, September 25, 2009

10 Reasons Why We Keep On Writing by Robert W. Walker

#1. We are driven; it is an addiction hardly controllable. Some call it a gift, others call it a curse.

#2 . We are creators. We get to play God. We craft the good, the bad, and the ugly characters; furthermore, we get to decide on their FATEs, their LIVEs, and if they should live or die. It is a rush.

#3. We novelist, playwrights, script writers get to play all the parts, whereas actors typically are held to one part and one role only. So it is like what we did as kids – play. Writing is play and should be a playful “art” and “science”.

#4. We can tell people we are “Working” while we are “Playing” and no one is any the wiser.

#5. We get to create metaphors for what we do and metaphor creation for your “work” is in and of itself a fun activity as in “Writing is easy, like picking a scab until it bleeds, and when it stops bleeding, you pick at it for the next scene.” Or Writing is easy, all you have to do is open a vein….like lifting a raw egg of a linoleum floor….your turn to play.

#6. We write for our first reader – ourselves – which includes the guy who loves everything we spout, and the harsh critic within that detests everything we spout. We stiff arm both and somehow continue writing only by not settling for self-hype or mean-spirited criticism from that side of the brain that dislikes everything.

#7. Because we are “supposed” to….as in now I gotta get this blog outta my head an onto paper…or I have a deadline to meet with a story….or a self-imposed deadline.

#8. Because we love language and anything to do with language, and we love working in the “materials” of language and using the “tools” of language to craft “Kodak moments” and memorable scenes that move people to feel one emotion or another; in other words to wield the most powerful weapon on earth – Words. That which is mightier than the sword.

#9. Because we have a pack of lies (fiction/ficciones) inside us that have to get outside of us in order to “prove” a truth, quite often a truth surrounding the human condition. We are observers of the parade…the floating opera of life and we feel put here to make observations on same and pass them along to unsuspecting readers who think we are just entertainers.

#10. We write for money as well; we pray to be able to make a living at this “work” that we are passionate about, and if we can’t make a living at it, we spend a lifetime in another job to support the “habit”.

I write for craft and for money, and I have taught writing for over thirty years to support the addiction and the “need”. When I teach a creative writing class, I see two kinds of “writers come through the door – he who sees it as a glamorous thing to be recognized and called a writer or novelist or screenwriter (and most of these fail), and he or she who MUST write in order to breathe more easily, to get the stories and voices out of their heads and off their chests before the panic and pain of NOT writing these things out gets to them. In other words, a poet’s got to write poetry despite the fact there is no money in poetry and no poetry in money. And a woodworker has to work in wood, and a sculptor in stone….so a writer in words.

See if I live up to the ten reasons by picking up a copy of my latest work, DEAD ON. My wife, Miranda’s The WELL MEANING KILLER displays the same NEED to be written on every page.
Happy Writing and please feel free to leave a #11 or #12 etc. as a comment. Would love to hear from you.

Rob Walker


Morgan Mandel said...

The writers' David Letterman, Rob Walker!

Morgan Mandel

Terry Odell said...

Or we write because otherwise we'd have to do housework.

Alan Orloff said...

Because writers can count reading as work!

Dave said...

While I agree with everything Rob said, I like Alan's take a whole lot! Wouldn't it be nice to be paid to read as well as write?

Jacqueline Seewald said...

I have to agree with all ten reasons. And like Terry, I often use writing as an excuse to postpone housework.

How great that you and your wife are both writers, Rob! It gives you so much in common.

Jacqueline Seewald

Rob Walker said...

It is interesting sharing a home with another writer, to say the at least my wife understands that when I am distracted it is not personal or directed at her as I am engaged with my characters, plot, setting, and how am I to get from here to there as she is dealing with the same problems. Others around me who do not write often think I am just a maniac or an eccentric or just strange.

Yeah, getting paid to read...I saw that in 3 Days of the Condor with Robert Redford. What a cool job. But teaching is cool, too, and it supports the habit of a career writer.
Thanks for the comments all.

Anonymous said...

10 good reasons, Rob. Well put.

Bo Parker said...

Creative, expressive writing is growing as a recognized form of medical treatment, and not just as mental therapy by reducing to words the nightmares and flashbacks resulting from post traumatic stress. Medical studies are showing that writing can reduce the aches and pains of such maladies as asthma and arthritis. As studies in this area continue, the relationship between our creative process and our mental/physical well being will be fuller understood. Bottom line. Creative writing is one step toward a healthier, happier life.
Bo Parker

Margot Justes said...

All are excellent reasons. I find writing to be therapy, an escape into a world of my own making and resolutions always have the desired result.
Margot Justes

Patricia Stoltey said...

#11. I write to help pay for my addiction to mystery conventions and fund my book-buying habits.

Rob Walker said...

Bo you are so right about writing for one's health, absolutely. In fact, I should have included this but it is embedded in the notion we writers HAVE to get it off our chests...and in fact I took Stephen King to task once by explaing that NO, the only reason to write is NOT money by pointing out the health benefits for cancer patients and others with awful illnesses who are encouraged to write poetry and story and how wonderfully therapuetic writing can be for those in dire straights...and in fact many people who have managed to write out their terrors and guilt and other emotions have risen from the depths of despair to return to health and happiness. I have blogged on the subject by the way...likely in the archives here a Acme, so thanks for briniging this important aspect up.

WordJames said...

#11 We tell stories at the drop of a hat, stories of things that have happened, of things that cannot or should not happen, of things we invent that amuse us, "of cabbages and kings".

#12 It is an obsession and a compulsion ... but we claim not to be OC.

#13 We are in but not of this world. You all have shown us this world, this reality that you all share, so we must give you a taste of other worlds, some where we belong and some from which we have been cast.

J.W. Thompson said...

I Write as an escape---I escape into a world that I create and it is as good as escaping into someone elses writen world that I read.

Rob Walker said...

Yes to escape, a given in my way of thinking; and yes, it is healthy. A young reader once wrote me worried because family members told her she was weird to find enjoyment in Robert Walker's books. I wrote her back assuring her that she was most likely the most well rounded person in her family for having read my books. So there! Readers escape in our books just as we do, just as JW says.