Why Do I Write? Contemplating the Reasons

The Choice to Write

Every now and again it does us all good to sit back and look at the choices we have made. One of the biggest decisions is the job we do.

I’ve been in the place of hating my job and doing it because it was the best I could get.

I’ve liked some jobs and had fun in them. I’ve also endured horrific roles where I felt physically sick at the thought of showing up each day.

Sometimes the choices we make about our jobs don’t work out the way  we think they might. Other times, it’s the best decision we ever made.

This got me thinking about one of the biggest career decisions I ever made. When I decided, with the full support of the Husband, to become a full-time writer, it was both a tough and easy decision to make.

I know I’m lucky I can do this with the support of my spouse. I appreciate what a privileged position I am in relation to others who have to fit writing in around main jobs and family commitments.

Don’t think though that we are a mega rich couple languishing in a life of luxury. Sacrifices still have to be made for the decision that we undertook.

You won’t find me pissing you off and grumbling about my lot in life though. What I want to do is to actually take a moment, smell the roses (or possibly the coffee), and reflect upon why I am doing this.

It’s something I think we could all benefit from once in a while.

I am a Creative Person

I’ve always veered towards creative pursuits from the year dot.

At school I loved Art lessons until I got to ‘A’ level and it all started becoming a bit of a pissing contest about who was the best artist and the teacher’s pet.

Why do I write? - creative personI’ve never enjoyed engaging in creative competitions. I couldn’t understand why my Art teacher was constantly showing the work of her favourite student and telling us we had to paint more like her.

What kind of world would it be if we all produced the same paintings, novels, cakes, sculptures and music? A very dull one indeed.

I began to dread Art lessons. I felt like a failure because my work wasn’t deemed suitable enough in my teacher’s eyes. It took me years to even contemplate doing anything artistic.

Even now I don’t draw or paint. I probably could but I have to fight the demons of ‘Not Good Enough’.

Now I’m a writer I can see that having my own creative style isn’t a bad thing. It should be embraced.

Writing gives me the freedom to be me. I have found my voice and of course it works, because it belongs to me. Maybe the confidence I am building in my writing will one day transfer back to my art.

I love baking too. I enjoy creating something tangible I can get my hands on and devour. Contrary to what you may think I actually delight in sharing my baked creations more than I enjoy eating them myself. It’s such a buzz to hear and see how much others enjoy the cakes I foist upon them, not that it takes much coercing.

Scrapbooking is another hobby of mine. I have made many as gifts for birthdays, weddings, births, and to commemorate special events. I love the visual aspect of it.

Like a story, a scrapbook page begins as a collection of ideas. I outline where I want things to go and then start filling it in with my creative touches. I can spend hours scrapbooking and am happy being up to my elbows in glue and glitter.

Writing is the ultimate expression of my creativity. I never thought I would have a creative job. I hark from the literal old school thinking that creative pursuits weren’t work.

Sure, we could dabble with paint in Art lessons and make a lovely poem for mother’s day but everyone knows that actors don’t make money, writers are all lazy drunks, and artists put weird shit in a piece of paper and call it art, right? Wrong. Well, kind of. Some of us may not be hitting the mark in terms of ‘success’ , whatever that it, but we’re giving it a damn good try.

Because I Was Always Meant to Do This

Why do I write? - when I grow upMaybe it’s partly because if I’d told the Careers Officer at school I wanted to be a writer she would have had a fit that I didn’t come to this writing gig sooner.

I was amused that those highly inaccurate skills aptitude tests you did at school stated  I’d be a great florist. I’m not hating on flowers or florists but I certainly had no inclinations to spend my days arranging blooms.

I know how worthy it sounds when we creatives declare we have found our calling. I’ll spare you that. If anyone was calling me to be a writer they certainly weren’t very loud about it seeing as it took 40 years to get here. Note to muse or whatever other wispy bollocks guides us along; speak up more in future will ya?

Hindsight is a beautiful and a bitch of a thing. Looking back I can see I was probably always going to be a writer.

  • Loved reading? Check.
  • Loved writing stories? Check.
  • Regularly looked in the dictionary for new words? Check.
  • Read some books and thought I could write better? Check (arrogant git).
  • Analysed literature in depth for academic study? Check.
  • Was an English teacher? Check.
  • Taught others how to write? Check.
  • Got others published? Check.
  • Wrote poems for others, testimonials, journals etc? Check.

Oh dear. I really am crap at this spotting the signs malarkey aren’t I? Oh well, I got there in the end.

I’m Not Too Shabby at It

I’m a Brit. I’ll never tell you I’m good or great at anything *shudders*. It’s in the Brit blood to pass off talent as just a little something we do, not that I’m stating that I’m a writing genius *cringes even more*. I will, however, concede I’m not too bad at this writing business. I wouldn’t carry on if I thought I was awful.

Why do I write? - I can'tI have my doubts all the time though, just as every angtsy writer does. I even found myself asking the Husband the other day if I was fooling myself thinking that I’m a writer. I told him I didn’t want to be the writing equivalent of the idiots used for sport in the X-Factor auditions.

I haven’t watched it in years but I can guarantee people are still featuring on there, wailing like a cat on heat, and declaring that the local pub’s patrons, their nan, and best mate told them they’re a great singer and should audition. I would hate it if I was the writing equivalent.

I don’t think I’m quite down there with the ‘really should consider anything but writing’ crew. I am far too proud and introverted to put my writing out there if I doubt whether it’s any good.

You may be reading this and thinking, ‘poor disillusioned woman’ but I accept my writing may not be your cup of tea. Not everyone is going to like my writing and that’s okay. It’s not really but it is *stiffens upper lip and becomes even more British in a single move*.

For as long as I think I can string some words together, they make sense, and they sound more than alright, I’ll keep at it.

When it starts to resemble a bad X-Factor auditionee, let me know, gently.

I Love Words and Literature

Why do I write? - words spilling out of bookI love words. I love big ones, small ones, middling ones and rude ones.

I love discovering new ones and then never being able to fit them into my vocabulary, let alone my writing.

I love speaking words, writing, and reading them.

I love the partnership of black on white (other colours and shades are available) and how it invites me in.

Words have been my life for my whole life.

From the moment I saw them sitting on a page and heard another person speaking them, I’ve been fascinated by words.

I have stood in awe at how words can build others up or break them down. I have never known anything that looks so simple and innocuous to have so much power. That power has been even stronger within the pages of a book.

As a child I always had my nose in a book. I was an accomplished reader because I loved reading. I have been a book geek forever and am proud of it.

I chose to study literature at degree and Masters level because I was hungry to explore the world of writers and their word choices in more depth. It fascinated me and sometimes made me think I could never write like that. Now I know that’s not a negative thing. I will never write like Jane Austen or Shakespeare. They have their voices and I have mine.

Every writer has their own place in this world to fill, be it large or small. It is because of those writers that I write. They’ve shown me how much pleasure my creativity could possibly give to others one day.

I write for me and for you.

I’m Not Conventional

I bought into the notion I must have a 9-5 job with set routines and being accountable to a boss. I now know it doesn’t work for me.

I am not saying this is the wrong way to have a role. It certainly works for billions of other people out there. It’s just not for me.

I tried it many, many times. I always felt something was lacking. I felt stifled and trapped in a box not of my own devising.

Why do I write? - swimming against the tideI know some people think writers or even the self-employed have it so much easier than those who have to haul their arses to a work place. I beg to differ.

Yes, we don’t have to put on a suit and endure the car or train journey, but we do have to be accountable if we want to make it work.

It’s actually harder for me working from home to make sure work gets done than having a bitchy boss cracking the whip to have those reports in. We all know how easy it is to procrastinate when work needs to be done.

A writer has to fight the temptation to give in to the lures of social media because the computer is up and running, dealing with the endless people who knock on their door or phone, along with establishing a routine to their day.

We can often find ourselves working too hard (yes, it happens) and getting so engrossed in our writing we forget to eat or pee.

I know I’m not a conventional work horse. I work better at home, doing what I love.

I am also aware of how incredibly fortunate I am that I get to do this. That comes with its own pressures. I still struggle with not doing a job that has financial gains for my efforts. I am working harder than I’ve ever done. It’s not all sneaky TV watching and kips you know.

I know I’ve adopted a profession where hardly any money is made for the majority. Sometimes I feel guilty I’m not contributing to the household money pot. This guilt is my own. My husband thinks it’s a privilege to support me and us in an endeavour I love.

I am the archetypal struggling artist in some ways because I work hard, create, put it out there and have to accept, for now, that it’s about exposure, marketing, and a stepping stone hopefully towards other things.

I am not on the poverty line and I’m thankful for that. I do want to make money from my writing. I’m not that worthy. I don’t just do it for the love of it. I want to sell books. There’s nothing wrong in stating that. Spare me the tales of how writers never make money. I’m a realist as well as a dreamer.

This is my chosen life and I know I’m blessed because I’m doing something millions probably wish they could do. I’m aware that becoming a writer is often the top occupational dream in surveys.

I worked hard and had a lot of shit life to get here so I won’t apologise for slogging away at it now.

I am lucky but I’m also making my own possible success too every time I sit down to write.

I Am a Writer

It took me a long time to get here but it is what I am.

I’m not going to share any inspirational nuggets with you here. All I can say is that now is my time. It took a lot to get here.

Now let’s see if we can make this thing work. That’s the best that any writer can do.

Over to You

Why did you become a writer?

What makes you continue writing?

I’d love to know your reasons!

About Lisa Sell

Lisa Sell is a fiction writer. When she's not wrestling with words she can be found showing the love for chocolate, cheese, coffee, books, the cats, and the husband. Perhaps not in that order.

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