Why I write when I don’t have to write

I thought reading about why writers write would be interesting because sometimes I have no idea why I like to write. When I am up at 3am finishing a term paper worth 40% of my grade for a class I hate, I definitely don’t like to write.  In that situation though, I know exactly why I am writing; for an assignment, for a grade, for a future. But reading these articles reminded me why I like to when I don’t have to write.

Orwell resonated with me most mainly because of his very first paragraph. He states that he felt he liked to write to escape an isolated and undervalued world and create his own. Sometimes I feel that I do similar things; I let my mind wonder when I am bored or alone and just imagine, and then create. Writing is an outlet of my own imagination, where I have complete control. Like Orwell, I tried a variety of different styles of writing through mandatory assignments throughout my schoolwork, but I never knew which I liked because it was never on my own time, so I would forget, or “suppress” the idea I liked writing.

Orwell’s other point that reminded me of my daily thoughts was “I seemed to be making this descriptive effort almost against my will, under a kind of compulsion.” When I am telling a story to my friends, family or whoever, I can never just tell the “long story short.” I like to share every detail, moment, word, action, whatever in my description of events. I subconsciously am always descriptive, which I think makes me more like a writer than realized—I am often just speaking instead of writing.

I used to often “get in trouble” or be told to cut my writing pieces down for being “too wordy” or “overly descriptive.” When I was given prompts that had to be a certain number of words, I never ever on the first try got my piece under the word count. Thinking about this, the restriction of this and restriction of description probably made my writing worse. Of course editing is necessary but sometimes isn’t being wordy or overly descriptive okay? Orwell certainly agreed.

I found Didion’s piece more humorous but not as relatable to me. I understood her thoughts as writing being somewhat like going to a psychiatrist—you get to talk about whatever you want to talk about and impose thoughts on someone and make them listen. She states “ writing is the act of saying I, of imposing oneself upon other people, of saying listen to me, see it my way, change your mind.” I never really thought of writing in this regard but it is (unfortunately? Ironically? Honestly?) Very true. But is writing narcissistic or therapeutic? I used to jus think it was imaginative.

Looking for inspiration to answer my question in the next reading, Sullivan’s piece was somewhat unrelatable to me. Mainly because, up until now, I have never blogged. Not that I haven’t wanted to, but I am pretty much a daydreamer or a reader, writing my thoughts exclusively on paper. Probably too because I am technologically challenged and blogging always seemed complicated. I am excited to learn it now though as in the 21rst century, it seems pretty essential. I mean after writing this piece and feeling like this was actually enjoyable to write, I’m going to have to agree with Sullivan on this: “From the first few days of using the form, I was hooked.”

2 thoughts to “Why I write when I don’t have to write”

  1. Great post, Abby! I especially like your title, and what follows below does a very good job explaining its significance. I certainly know what you mean about the extreme difficulty of writing for a class you can’t stand or about a subject you find uninteresting. There is perhaps no worse feeling in the academic sphere than writer’s block, especially writer’s block combined with an impending deadline. For these reasons, I can definitely see why you believe your writing, and probably the writing of others in addition, is at its best when produced for pleasure, rather than dictated through directions.

  2. Abby,

    I loved your post! The way you described your feelings about writing at the beginning of your post completely resonated with me as well. I agree with Orwell and often use writing to escape and create my own world. Like you mentioned, writing is the best outlet there is and enables us to let our imaginations run wild in any direction we may please. I also feel the same way about how the writing I have done in school has somewhat restricted my ability to really enjoy writing. But as I have taken more upper level english and writing classes at Michigan, I have started to realize that writing is much more than just a five paragraph persuasive essay. There are so many different styles and genres, the possibilities are endless!

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