Why I Write

I find it very difficult to articulate my personal motivations and passions. For example, I grew up loving sports and friends and the outdoors, but I never really knew why. I just did. And as I entered high school, and eventually college, my lack of words and concrete reasons behind my passions never seemed to clear up. Today, I know without a doubt that I want to be a doctor, and I know without a doubt that I appreciate the empowering nature of writing. But I still struggle to articulate why. These things simply feel natural, and I have never had a reason to question my seemingly inexplicable passions.

Reading the Why I Write essays of Orwell and Didion marked the beginning of my process towards introspectively understanding why I write. I felt disconnected from the Orwell piece from the very start, because, unlike Orwell, I have not known I was meant to be a writer since age 5. In fact, I didn’t know I was meant to be a writer when I entered the writing minor. But something seemed to constantly guide me back towards writing. I am not guided back to writing by a lack of interest or focus in other subjects, like Didion. But still, something seems internally natural about writing. I finally began to understand why I write midway through the Didion essay, all thanks to one 9 word phrase in her essay:

I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking.”

This may be the reason why I have never been able to articulate just why I write; I haven’t been able to offer concrete reasons as to why I write because I have never written about them–I have never found out what I was thinking. This, too, may be the reason why I have always lacked the ability to articulate my passion for becoming a doctor. This line stood out in Didion’s essay, and the more I write about it, the more I understand why. I write because I have to. I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking.

Furthermore, I have discovered a lot about myself as a writer this semester. These personal discoveries have been broad, and range from discovering what I define as writing to the very reason why I write. Most importantly, the regular blogging and reflective writing in this class has exposed one of my most prominent writing tendencies: I write first and think second. By this, I mean that I most often think of my arguments and ideas while I write, as opposed to before I begin the writing process. No matter how much I brainstorm, the direction of my writing cannot be predicted until I begin writing.

This tendency explains both how and why I write.

2 thoughts to “Why I Write”

  1. Hi Jeremy,

    the last thing you mention in this blog really sticks with me. Your personal reflection of your inability to brainstorm before you write is something I’ve struggled with ever since the 5th grade when they tried to get me to fill out a graphic organizer before I started to write my first 5 paragraph essay. Sure, planning was helpful back then to try to really understand how to write an essay, but I’ve found throughout my college career that this isn’t really how academic writing should look. And weirdly enough, I’ve really come to love academic writing this semester, mainly due to the fact that I have so much freedom and space to form a new opinion or connect new research points or to discover new information on my own and while using a fluid process of progression through a body of work. So maybe this lack of interest in planning is something we both can work with, rather than against. Maybe this is what makes writing so great, too: that everyone does it a little differently, and that is why writing is so interesting to read.

    Thanks for sharing Jeremy, see ya tomorrow in class.
    -Caroline

  2. First off: “I haven’t been able to offer concrete reasons as to why I write because I have never written about them” Very meta.
    Secondly, I can definitely appreciate your point. I used to do it a lot more but, as you’ve read in my blog post, lately I haven’t been writing enough about what I think (personally, not academically). Maybe this is why I gravitated more towards Orwell’s piece than Didion’s.
    I definitely agree with you and Caroline, though, about thinking it all out during the writing process. It’s so much easier for me to be able to think about an idea better in practice versus in abstract as a preface.
    I’ve noticed a lot of fiction authors I follow describing a similar process for character development, as far as “characters that write themselves”. Just an interesting tidbit to note.

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