Thursday, October 20, 2011

Guest Post: Anthony Garcia on Why Writers Write

I feel so lucky to have a guest post to share with you guys! I'm glad I have something different for Simply Books because I feel like a lot of the content is the same. Writer Anthony Garcia offered to discuss why writers write which I think will apply to a lot of people. Enjoy!

Why do Writers Write?

Professional and amateur writers alike will likely one day be asked the big question: Why do you write? What compels you to put pen to paper -- or, more likely, fill up that empty white page on your computer -- to create stories, poems or journal entries? This question is good to consider, if you are taking English classes in an online graduate program, giving answers in a job interview, or if you are just writing for fun in your journal. Thinking of why writers write can be an especially good reflective writing exercise, as odd as it may sound. In answering this question, you may be surprised by the answers that come up.

What motivates writers has been examined by quite a few people. It's a question that vexes most writers and non-writers. Ask both the famous and the unknown scribes, and many will hesitate. Many don't know why they write; for some it seems to almost be a compulsion, for others, it becomes a dedicated meditation.

As it turns out, though, there are plenty of good reasons to write. For example, writing is a form of stress relief for many people. The stress relief theory supports the idea that people will be better equipped to deal with the challenges and burdens of everyday life if they write about them, because it allows for them to process and consider action steps.

Of course, stress-relief is far from the only valid reason to write. Just ask columnist Mark Coker. While writing for the Huffington Post, Coker turned to his fellow writers for answers, using Twitter to ask these scribes what it is that compels them to write. Some of the answers were simple. One writer tweeted back that she writes because she can't paint. Some were more philosophical. One writer responded that he writes because he believes that it is the best gift that he can give back to the world. Writing is a skill that he holds. It would be selfish, he said, to hold back that skill from the rest of the world.

Others responded that when they don't write, it actually hurts them. Another said that writing is a way to make sense of an often confounding world. Another had perhaps the most satisfying answer of all: He tweeted that he writes because it's what he loves to do. It brings him joy.

This last answer is an important one. And it's the one that Stanley Fish, writing for the New York Times, turned to when he tackled this same question. In his column, Fish writes about listening to a writer being interviewed on the radio. At one point, callers asked whether the writer turned to creating novels and stories as a way to deal with the death of his brother at a young age. The writer said, " him.
The writer explained that he wrote simply because he enjoyed the art of turning words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs and paragraphs into compelling stories. There was no greater reason for his love of writing than that.

Fish, in his column, appreciated that answer. Why does anyone do anything? Why does a professional baseball player hit home runs? Because he's good at it and he enjoys watching the ball sail into the seats. Why does a painter spend hours painting landscapes and sunsets? It's something that she enjoys. Why does the sculptor sculpt, the lawyer argue in a courtroom and the long-distance runner pound the pavement every morning? You get the idea.

Fish and the others remind us that we often look for bigger reasons for why creative people turn to their craft. For example, in his column for the Huffington Post, Coker discusses the mixture of chemicals that occur in the brain when people are working at their creative peak. But he admits that this reason for writing -- it's for the high that it brings -- isn't quite as satisfying as saying writers write because they're passionate about the art of crafting spellbinding sentences.

If you enjoy writing and it brings you joy, don't worry too much about the reasons behind your motivations for writing. Just write. Each person writes for personal reasons, but if it makes you happy, it's legal, and it could be good for you, what more can you want from a passion?

Anthony Garcia recently completed his graduate education in English Literature. A New Mexico native, he currently resides and writes in Seattle, Washington. He writes primarily about education, travel, literature, and American culture.

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