A few years ago, when I had just moved to a new town, I visited a meeting of local writers. From that meeting, I took away a sort of “light bulb” moment. A group leader handed out 3×5 cards and asked us for a personalized answer to this question: Why do you write?
Without hesitation, I scribbled my answer.
I write to experience life more deeply.
I looked at those words for a long while, surprised by their instant clarity and accuracy.
Writing forces me to sit with reality longer and sift through it—without filters. A brief joy, when penned into a journal, can become a moment worth remembering. A scary risk, when viewed as neat black letters on white paper, can become a crucial act of faith. An unwanted grief, when lingered over on tear-stained pages, can assure me I’m alive. Enough to feel this. All of it.
Some people sky dive or race cars. I write.
One of my interactive serialized fiction projects, The Wren Island Series, is about 45-year-old Allison Theodore, who, among other escapades, adopts two dogs. Big brown Louise, who sometimes sort of acts like a guard dog, is based on my Rosie. Little Lokita, who is blind, is based on my Moki.
Last summer, while I was writing Part 4 of the series, I had to say a final goodbye to Moki. (What a heartache!) I’ve said goodbye to pets before. It’s always hard, hard, hard.
Why did this doggie goodbye feel so much more painful than the others?
Was it because Moki was so exceptionally sweet? (She never did anything wrong, and the only thing she ever asked for was to be snuggled.) Was it because we’d adopted Moki as a senior dog and knew, from day one, a goodbye was on the horizon? Was it because Moki experienced a slow decline on multiple levels, clouding the ease of making end-of-life decisions?
Was it because I was writing about Moki?
I shared these thoughts with my email subscribers, then invited a response.
“What about you, my friend? What joys have defined your summer? What losses have you endured? Did you journal about it? Email a friend? Write a poem? Create a meaningful social media post?
There are as many reasons to write as there are writers. Your reason, even if you’re not sure what it is yet, is as unique and beautiful as you are.”
Readers responded with a myriad of reasons for writing, each one worthy and compelling. Here’s a small sampling:
- We all react differently to life’s journey. Sometimes we have to let go of the picture of what we thought life would be like and learn to find yourself in the story you are actually living. I think of you when I read your words.
- My reason for writing? I can’t NOT write, like I can’t NOT breathe. When I journal, I write to express my love for Jesus and to document my spiritual growth. When I write my newsletter/blog/book, I write to minister to others.
- What a great question, Laura Joy! Why do I right? [Note from Laura: Intentional or not, using “right” here instead of “write” is so in keeping with the rest of this reader’s answer!] The first thing that came to my mind, and this sounds crazy, it was “to right wrongs!” It seems that in my heart of hearts, I am bound and determined to hand out happy endings … I realize as I write, each one of my heroines is someone who desperately needs to believe there is a happy ending for her.
Now it’s your turn, dear reader. Why do you write?
“There are as many reasons to write as there are writers. Your reason, even if you’re not sure what it is yet, is as unique and beautiful as you are.”
I hope you’ll send me a message with your thoughts.
(This post is adapted from a note I wrote my subscribers in the summer of 2023. If you’d like to be the first to read more notes like these, subscribe here.)