A long time ago, when I was a high school student, I had the chance to write my own stories during an independent study course I took in English. You can read about my experience here on wattpad.com.
I didn’t always write, for I had begun with art. I tended toward the visual in my earlier days, but the desire to express myself in writing was there early on.
In University I had an art show. I wrote a creation myth and illustrated it with watercolours and inks, and I showed it along with some of my photography. My show was called “Spontaneous Generation.” How pretentiously arty is that? I was eighteen, so I think I can be excused.
Later on, I managed to wrangle my way into a creative writing course, even though it wasn’t my major, but I dropped it in exchange for something else. In hindsight, it might have been a good decision. From what I hear, some people have very negative experiences in University writing programs. By their very nature, these tend to encourage students to be brutal critics of one another’s works in order to impress their teacher. I wouldn’t have lasted long if this had been the case.
Later on I got into non fiction. I wrote a book on volunteer management as part of the placement component of my volunteer management program. I published it with my placement supervisor, and our tiny publisher sold some copies, so it was novel (I know, silly pun) to be “published” however slight the book might have been.
But this isn’t answering my premise as stated in the title of this article. Why do I write?
Well, it seems I keep finding things to write about.
Writing is part sharing your opinions and ideas, part creativity, and part imagination. If you write fiction, you get to do more with that imagination part, and that’s the part I like best. It’s also the hardest part. Any creator, whether of film, photography, sculpture, theatre or dance, will likely suffer from the following affliction at some point: the concept in your mind doesn’t match the creation you have made. Or at least that’s what you think. I have found this to be true in writing as it is in painting and sculpture.
The fact is, confidence is wrapped up in all of this, and confidence is something that tends to be in short supply in the world. People need others to tell them that something is good in order to believe it. Writers often need editors to like their work and buy it before they feel that the work has merit. Don’t show it to your mother, whatever you do. She’ll either love it because she loves you, or tell you that you won’t amount to anything, depending on which sort you happen to be related to. Mine doesn’t want to see my work, likely because she’s afraid of falling into one of those categories.
I like writing because I get to go other places in my mind, creating other worlds, magic powers, new scientific discoveries, and so much more. I get to squeeze out my emotions in cathartic sessions of melodrama, inventing scenarios where my heroes and heroines get put through the ringer and survive. I need this, and I think people need to read this as well. People need stories where the protagonist prevails in the end, in spite of the odds, so that they can believe it will happen for them too, whenever they face adversity. Isn’t that a gift if you can offer it?
Writing is a gift to the people of the world. People who don’t share their work don’t get to enjoy this feeling, which is too bad. I get all warm and goosebumpy when my Wattpad readers beg me for the next chapter in my novel. I know I’m giving them something they want, and they’re craving more. This is good. Great, even.
Finally, I have to say that living a creative life has been important for my mental well-being. I’m a pretty solid and stable sort (comes from being the eldest, likely) but I think creating on a regular basis has elevated my creative ability, which has spilled out into all sorts of other areas, such as cooking, decorating and coming up with ideas, no matter what the context.
I think it’s sad when people have creative urges and get put down for making the effort. It takes time and patience to become good at everything, and writing especially. I will never bore of trying to improve, and there will always be things I need to learn, so writing has built in life-long learning, which is also a great thing for the mind and the spirit.
I still like the visual. I kept away from Pinterest for ages, knowing it would draw me in and take away my writing time, but now that I have an account, the world seems beautiful and endlessly vast. The vast visual world then turns into words for me, and I must, I have to… sit down and put the words on paper.