Barring a change in library administration or some scheduling mix-up, I am finally getting my writing workshop restarted after a COVID-induced hiatus that has lasted much longer than I wanted it to. Prior to COVID, my writing workshop had run for about four years, and grew from a workshop that had been in operation by my mentor, Newton Berry, for about eight years. Putting everything on hold was difficult but inevitable, but now everything is coming back into place. And, of course, this means I have to start really getting back to the mindset of facilitator and guide, as well as understanding just what I discuss.
The most common question I ask workshop members is, of course, "Why do you write?" I usually put this out to new members at the beginning of a meeting after they offer a brief introduction, and there is no wrong answer. Their response offers me a chance to see where they are, what they need from me as a facilitator, and what I can offer them in addition to what they get from participation. So in the spirit of preparing for the upcoming workshop, allow me to share with you just why I write.
My original spur to take writing to the next level was a realization that I had stories to tell, and that I was the only person who could tell them. That motivated me to start writing things down, to process ideas, and to seek help on how to communicate them more effectively. However, it has become much more than that since I took the plunge and typed up my first official writing-like-a-writer short story twenty-odd years ago. (I don't count writing in school because that was writing-for-an-assignment writing.) As I think about it, my motivation now is entirely different than what drove me back then, and it's something I think beginning writers need to know.
Writing, at its core, is about putting yourself into the world. It doesn't matter if the story is about you or someone else, whether it's fiction or real-life, writing is bringing out ideas and feelings that are processed by the very essence of your existence. Writing about events without placing that humanity into them isn't writing, it's journalism. When I write, I place a little part of me into everything that comes out. That story about wild animals converging upon some deadbeat in the woods - my being is in that story, just like it's in the story about a man reliving his life during his dying breath, or the story of a family cat's adventures in the house. My books all have me in them, even if I am not a character and they're total fiction.
Why do I write? Because the more I write, the more I get to understand myself and how I feel about the world around me. When I write, I get in touch with things that might normally fly under the radar. Everything I write teaches me something about myself and how I perceive the world, and that is a priceless gift. It's not the only reason I write, of course, but it's one that I offer other people when they look for a reason to write. It offers them a chance to grow.
Why do you write?