I just found out via Twitter that today is the 7th Annual National Day on Writing. Created by the National Council of Teachers of English, this holiday is meant to “draw attention to the remarkable variety of writing we engage in.” Between updating my Contently portfolio, scheduling posts on my Facebook page, and catching up on e-mails, I thought I would take a second to share with you the reasons #WhyIWrite.
Writing has always been a part of my life (or has ever since I mastered the ability to hold my pen in my hand and scribble letters on line paper). As a child, I wrote letters to my mother almost daily (she was the one who taught me to write, after all). My first poems, written in the 1st grade, were published in a children’s anthology (and I’ve been wanting to publish my poetry ever since–maybe this year!) Sometimes I’d create fake newspapers and write my own headlines and stories about alien invasions or about Archie Comics or The Simpsons. I always loved writing stories in class as well and excelled in English for years (save for my handwriting which was always quite sloppy). I took to writing journals and poems in high school, and the occasional “article” in one of the student-run alt-papers.
Then came technology and the advent of Livejournal, and I became a regular blogger (though at the time it was simply writing to me). I had a Blogspot page for a while, then graduated to Tumblr and WordPress sites like this one. Some of my reasons for writing have evolved over time while others remain at the core of what I do.
1. I write because it feels good. Seriously, few things feel as good to me as getting down to business and knocking out an essay on gender or an article about selfies. The feeling of accomplishment when I hit send or publish is remarkable.
2. I write because I want to get my message out to the world. When I write about things like child loss or race, I do it because I know what I’m saying needs to be said. Writing can be a political act, a subversive act, a wholly important and revolutionary act. And while I do get paid to write about lighter subject, like the end of America’s Next Top Model or where to get good coffee in Miami, I also like to write pieces about preterm labor and infant loss, because I know other parents might benefit from reading about my experience.
3. I write to connect with other writers. I love meeting and networking and engaging with other writers. I’ve met so many writers thanks to Facebook groups and Twitter hashtag parties and NaNoWriMo and other writer events and I admire so many of them. There’s nothing quite like finding your writing tribe.
4. I write to record my life. Journaling is one of my favorite forms of therapy. Getting my thoughts written down on a regular basis helps me to get at the root of problems, inspires me, motivates me to push forward, shows me what I need to change in my life, and keeps me centered.
5. I write because my voice is worthwhile. So many writers second guess themselves into never writing or never publishing because they don’t believe they are “good enough” or suffer from some sort of impostor syndrome. Thanks to the encouragement I’ve found via fellow writers, I’ve learned that my voice and my writing are also important and it’s important therefore to put my writing out into the world.
6. I write to create the endings I would have preferred. This is mostly in regards to fiction, but I tend to re-write stories from my own life but change the endings or details to suit my needs. If something didn’t quite work out in real life, it may enjoy a happier ending in my fiction. It’s nice to get those moments of joy, even if just through the written word.
7. I write because it’s my favorite form of expression. At times, I struggle to say the words I want to say. And I never quite learned how to play the guitar or piano at the level I wanted, and I’m not much of a dancer or painter. Writing is how I express my thoughts and emotions. This is how I can best get the words out.
8. I write to see myself in the world. Growing up, I read books about dystopian futures, about female friendships during the Holocaust, about vampires (before Twilight or True Blood became a thing)…but I didn’t really read much about people with my particular experience. I didn’t read about growing up in Miami. I didn’t read books by Latina women (save for the occasional Sandra Cisneros story). I didn’t read about being a bisexual teen. I didn’t read tales of friendship and hooking up and booze-culture that were such a part of my early twenties. So now I write those types of stories: the stories I lived and the stories I wanted to read, to see myself reflect out there, and hopefully to show others like me that they aren’t alone.
9. I write because I just can’t stop.
Why do you write? Join the hashtag now on Twitter as writers from all over share why they write (make sure to Tweet at me, too!). Plus you might connect with a new writer or two, maybe even start your own group. And if you’re not sure what to write about, check out my piece on advice for all writers, where I give tips on how to get started.