Why Write About Why I Write?

In class on Tuesday, we talked a lot about both George Orwell’s and Joan Didion’s “Why I Write” essays. Each piece is written so well that, together, they seem to be all-encompassing, covering all of the important reasons a writer may write. I’m a little wary of attempting to write my own version, because these pieces don’t seem to leave much room for creative elaboration or expansion without redundancy.

So, then, why should I bother? It’ll help me learn about my self and my own motivations and habits, sure, but I don’t much like the notion of putting time and thought into a piece that is meant only for myself, that will never reach any wider audience. This brings me to wonder what a discussion of my own writing process could offer a reader: will I be able to come up with anything, anything, that hasn’t been said before, and probably better, by someone else?

In thinking about how my own thoughts and opinions could benefit an audience, I find myself returning again and again to considering what I hope for my repurposing project. This is the longest, widest ranging paper I’ve ever written, and a lot of what is motivating me to write it is, I think, what motivates me to write in general. Maybe there’s a way for my thoughts re:repurposing could transfer over to this consideration of my upcoming attempts to creatively define “Why I Write.”

For one thing, my repurposing essay is a vehicle to prove that representation is important, and that there is in power in numbers. If what I say in my “Why I Write,” while not exclusively unique for me, offers proof to someone who shares my writing process that our way of writing is a legitimate one, one that is experienced and carried out successfully by writers other than him, it will have been worth writing. I hope that when people read my repurposing paper, they recognize themselves in my experiences and their own thoughts in mine, and can gain some kind of self-legitimacy in shared identity. I’m less interested in proving that I am the only one who has ever felt and thought these things, but rather trying to prove that I am here, too, putting voice to qualms I assume a lot of people grapple with. It’s a text-driven “I’ve been there,” “You’re not alone,” “Me, too”. I don’t think there’s any reason why my “Why I Write” couldn’t work toward the same goal.

While it may be impossible for me to present original insights into the writing process which have never before been noticed, I wonder whether I could discuss these ideas in a way that makes the reader consider these tried-and-true motivations for writing in a way they hadn’t before. When I apply these principles to my own life, maybe something will come of it that helps them understand my fairly cut-and-dry writing process in a different way than they where able to understand it through the work of Orwell and Didion. My position as a far less experienced amateur writing in 2016 may in itself be enough to differentiate my ideas from theirs. If I can offer a look into how I write at my level in this time, even if the process is somewhat similar, maybe I’ll  be able to lend confidence to a reader with a similar skill and age, proving that if I can and do write, then maybe they can, too.

2 thoughts to “Why Write About Why I Write?”

  1. Hey Hannah!
    I understand your thoughts on the “Why I Write” piece completely, it can be so difficult to try and find a place for your own voice when a topic has already been beaten down again and again. However, I disagree with you when you say that it is impossible to have something original to say. Even if the over-arching message of the importance of writing is the same, telling your own specific story and how writing has affected you is still incredibly unique. As humans, we like to get to know other people. So as long as you let readers get to know you through your exploration of this topic, the ideas and thoughts you share will still be original and have a purpose that can be appreciated by a much wider audience than yourself!

  2. Hi Hannah –
    I completely know how you feel about being wary of the “Why I Write” project. At first, I didn’t know why I wrote and quite honestly, it took me a long time to figure out. You want to produce something for your readers that hasn’t been said before and something that keeps them interested. The journey can be a struggle, but completely worth it in the end. You will find the words to say, like I finally did, and they are going to be great. Something can come from being an amateur writer, something that is worth writing about. Good luck!
    – Allyson

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