Five Reasons Why We Write

© by Lydia Nolan

April 11, 2019

Five Reasons Why We Write

© by Lydia Nolan

April 11, 2019            

When I was a six or seven-year-old child my cousin said that I would be a writer. I looked at her with a blank stare. I did not believe her, much less understand the profoundness of the projection. I was hyperactive, noisy and could not stop talking or sitting still. I was constantly reprimanded for being an annoying kid, I was commanded to go and play outside most my youthful years just so I would leave everyone else alone. I was relentless.

            I began writing at the age of eight or nine, but I began to believe I was a writer by the time I was ten years old. Still, I did not think of it as something to which I would directly aspire, but I thought of writing as a means to an end. 

            I wrote because it got me to a place I wanted to go, where I could explain things that happened. Telling stories helped me complete something that I wanted to complete—allay my desperate need to explain things. You could say I was a memoirist from that age to the present though I’ve never written a memoir formally. But I did get my training from practice.

            For example, writing a script verbatim to reflect a movie I was watching and loved so much that I wanted to make sure I’d always have it inside me (there weren’t videos in my time), I would create a “script.” Then, I would act out all the parts myself, memorizing distinctly each character’s voice, gestures and facial expression; my mother said I would be a great actress. 

            I did that with “The Bride of Frankenstein.” I learned all the parts and acted out all the parts for my cousins. My scripts became special to me and I carried them around like textbooks. I would later use various scripts to assign parts to my friends and teach them how to act them out. After that came many horror movies; my favorite genre.

            We write for many reasons. For example, Kelly Cherry, who is a writer and wrote for WriterMagazine, said it’s not about money, and it’s not about quick recognition. Both of those covetous luxuries lack more times than not with writers. Cherry goes on to say: “despite all the reasons not to choose it as a career, writers are driven by a primal urge to tell people who they are. (Psychology Today. Feb. 14, 2018. Web)”

            Studies show that writers attempt to make a connection with a reader; it is an intimate connection because only the writer and the reader are involved—like telling secrets. And writing is controversial in that it can be to some painful and agonizing, much like delivering a baby and having labor pains in delivery. While others may disagree and say it is easily expelled and is liberating and reveals depth in a writer’s need to communicate.

            One can argue that we can create intimacy any other ways as well, so why write? However, a writer with such a need who creates an intimate connection with one person can connect with far more people at a time—their readers.

            Since I was an annoying chatterbox I began writing poetry to expel the need to identify myself and share my thoughts, and later on, I began writing stories for the same reason. The entertaining part was the way for me to communicate those ideas, thoughts, stories, and so forth.

            I have always loved school, particularly my English classes because of the fact that the instructors always made us write. I see writing essays, comments, notes, and stories as the truth of intimacy and deep communication. The famous “Fear of Flying” author, Erika Jong, says: “we write for love.” That is perhaps the general consensus. But not necessarily for merely to love others but to have others love us as well.

            Regardless of how it comes about for writers, it burns in us and cannot be dismissed so easily. Some of us may have had something that happened to us that made us feel the need to put it down on paper, and afterward we were hooked. So here are some points that might help you identify the writer personality. See if it resonates with the experiences that made you believe you were a writer and were meant to write.

1)   You are an intense observer, mesmerized by how people talk. You begin to distinguish the differences in their speech, tone, mood, dialect simply by listening oh so carefully. Further, you try to write those sounds with words on paper.

As a kid and loving those monster movies, I recall watching carefully the movements of the characters, but also their voices. After I began writing scripts in the crudest way a child could write, I would work hard to make the words fit the sounds. For example,  in the Bride of Frankenstein, the doctor is ecstatic because his monster is coming alive. He is hysterical due to fatigue and his emotions have gone awry. So I remember writing: “it’s aliiiive, ALLIIIIVE! HAHAHAHA! (gasp) HAHAHAHA (gasp)”

The emphasis in his voice is the capital letters along with the length of the I’s to extenuate the word, alive… aliiiiiiive. 

2)   Were you once obsessed with how letters look? Perhaps you may have even taken a Calligraphy class. Maybe you experimented with new ways to write your name, letters or words in an artistic way. These days we can compare with that with the computer, typing various notes with ways in which you express your feelings. Nonetheless, you write! For example, in my day, I loved writing letters to people and would try and write with fancy loops and curls. The pen in my hand, the white plain paper revealing the voice that spoke in my head, all of it, was superbly orchestrated by my brain and hand. Using various fonts on our computer to “decorate” our emails is similar to what I did then, even using colors to demonstrate mood. In times before the tech explosion, I’d use colored pencils to brighten up notes or letters.

3)   Being intrigued by words unknown is an opportunity for word lovers to get to know them and extend your vocabulary. Sometimes, if you are truly drawn to words you may wish to know where they came from and whether or not they had different meanings in the past. Many of my friends who are now writers used to look up every word they did not know; so did I. Afterward, and just for fun, we’d use them in our letters (your emails) or aloud as we spoke, discussing words and their newly found use in our letters, essays, and so forth.

4)   Speeches with words and sounds in the speaking would catch a writer’s ear more readily than the usual audience; a writer’s senses are acute and that is why critics comment on plays, speeches, and the like. You might experiment with speech writing to your parents, your friends, groups, etc., desiring to move others by your speaking or words being written, because you know it is possible; you know the power words have.

5)   Finally, you have a burning desire to communicate to people, which becomes for you the most intimate of relationship and self-revelation; even as you write you learn who you are. It may have begun by reading but it does not necessarily always start that way. A book, a movie, a speaker, a preacher, any communication in which words are used to move, impassion, incite, or leave a lasting and emotional impression, may create in you that burning desire to be intimate with others in this type of communication because it happened to you.

            It may seem strange to a writer that not everyone has these types of characteristics, but believe it or not, there are people that could care less about how to impress people with words. They leave it to people like you and me to be their mediators in the world of emotional movement. 

            It has always been funny to me when I was a child that writers never get known or demand fame aloud. If they receive fame or fortune it is incidental to their innate desire to communicate. Perhaps Erika Jong was correct in stating her understanding of the purpose of a writer: “we do it for love.”

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