Why Write?

in writing •  29 days ago

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Why write?

It’s a question I’ve been trying to answer lately.

I know, writing has many benefits, especially writing longhand. It slows our thoughts. It helps us focus and find clarity. It moves our thoughts and ideas from the non-physical world to the physical world. It releases energy, etc.

That’s part of the reason why I’ve made it a goal of mine to journal everyday this year. I want to experience these benefits in my daily life, and more so, I want to clarify my intentions. I want to understand why I do the things that I do and examine their authenticity. Are my thoughts and actions things that I have chosen myself, or are they the result of ideas that were implanted in me, either through familial upbringing or cultural indoctrination.

More than journaling, though, I spend a lot of time writing stories, and when I ask myself why, I have a hard time answering this question.

Is writing stories something I am naturally inclined to do? Is it something that I really want to do? Is it something that I would do no matter where I was and no matter what I was doing? Or is there some kind of other motivation at work?

For twenty-five years now, I’ve toyed with writing. Though I haven’t produced a substantial amount of work, and though I’ve never published anything through a journal or a publishing house, all throughout high school, my two-year stint working with a general contractor, my eight years of restaurant experience, my time in university, and the ten years that I have been teaching, I have written poems, short stories, creative non-fiction pieces, children’s stories, and a variety of articles. Based on this history it would seem that, writing is something that I always return to.

But why?

I’m not a naturally gifted storyteller. If you asked me to make up a story on the spot, I would be hard pressed to do it. That said there is something about working with words that I really enjoy. I like capturing emotions and images. For me, arranging words, characters, and storylines is akin to solving a riddle and/or putting together a puzzle. It’s the problem solving process that I enjoy. It’s examining the aesthetics of writing that I like, toying with the rhythm and flow of a story, adjusting the structure and presentation of a poem.

I’m not convinced that I’m a writer by nature, but I do find myself stimulated by many different aspects of writing.

So is that why I write, for stimulation?

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The Writer’s Life

I received my first impressions of what it meant to be a writer during my early years of high school. They came to me through the songs, books, poems, images of, stories of, and lives of people like Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Arthur Rimbaud, Oscar Wilde, Jack Kerouac, Ernest Hemingway, and many others. Essentially, I received and accepted the ideas I was presented with: Being a poet, a writer, or an artist meant living on the fringes of society, it meant being counter-culture. Being a poet, a writer, or an artist often meant being a genius, and being a genius meant being misunderstood and living a hard life. Being a poet, a writer, or an artist meant seeing the world through new and different perspectives, perspectives brought on by whatever means necessary.

Since then I have been exposed to other versions of the writer’s life. There’s the successful copywriter’s life that involves making a lot of money while only writing for a few hours a day and arranging your work hours as you see fit. There’s the creative writing professor’s life, which involves working on one’s own projects in between teaching classes, during snippets of office hours, before one’s family has gotten up and/or after they have gone to bed. There’s the wide spectrum of the blogger’s life, which involves anything and everything under the sun, from the eccentric artist to the five-figure salary man. And of course, there are many more.

When I first found Steemit, I felt so inspired to write. That inspiration, when I really think about it, came from three things: being anonymous, having a platform to easily share my writing on, and the challenge of/opportunity to be rewarded for my writing.

Being anonymous freed me from the fear of judgment. Being able to easily share my writing on a platform where there was an audience that seemed to be waiting for new material was motivational. And the chance of being rewarded for sharing my writing, well, that was just enough of an incentive to get me off my butt and actually try doing something new.

Now, after two and a half years of constant writing, I find myself wanting to write a book.

But why?

Well, first and foremost, I want to make extra money. I’ve bought into this idea of having multiple revenues of income and, even though I know there is no guarantee that writing a book will lead to extra revenue, I still want to give it a try.

More than that, however, and I realize this only now, after having followed this wandering train of thought, is this, I have found something that I want to share.

I write because, among other things, I have something to share.



I am currently working on a book of Japanese folk tale translations. At the moment, I am torn as to whether I should be true to the folk tale genre and basically retouch the stories as I see fit, or if I should retell them through first person narratives that have more of a short story feeling. To see what I mean, please refer to this post, The Day It All Changed. Any thoughts, ideas, or advice you have for me is much appreciated. Thanks!

How about you? Why do you write?

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I enjoyed the post. I feel in touch with what your saying. I chose a different profession, but I have always been attracted to writing. It helps me as you said convert thoughts to words, to organize the creative chaos of my mind which is filled with stories pressing against the doors to my fingertips, because they wish to become real, as the written word.
Take Care,
@shortsegments

P.S.
I love the idea of an English translation of Japanese folktales. It sounds like an amazing project in cross cultural writing and understanding. I think it will test your translation skills like never before. 👍

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Would you be more interested in reading typical forlktales written in the third person and beginning with Once upon a time, or Long, long ago...

Or would you rather read a more contemporary type of story that remains true to the folk tale story it is retelling?

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I think the later. I like to read stories written in the language and style of the era it is from. That makes the stories interesting from the point of view of the story what I learn about how language was used at the time.
Thanks

P.S.
https://steemit.com/mindset/@shortsegments/why-do-we-write

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Keeping language historical is difficult. That’s not something I’ve spent much time trying to do. My fear is that using antiquated language will effect the reading experience in a negative way.

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I think that is possible and if it gets in the way of conveying the story then I suggest you replace it with modern and easier to understand prose. 😊

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I’ll give it a shot.

Thank you to @wakeupkitty for the mention, or I would not have seen this post. This is a very good question, @boxcarblue, and I like how you explored the various revelations you’ve had along the way. I think I’ve had a very similar experience.

I write because I have always wanted to do so. I’m also not a gifted storyteller, but I do aim to master it through practice. I have also been exposed to many artists and masters whose abilities and stories put me in awe of what can be done, which is alternately thrilling and unsettling. (Is it worth doing if I am not amazing at this?) And I agree also that it is like a puzzle or riddle. I know when there is a piece missing, but cannot always see how to get to the end goal along the way.

The hurdles I have faced have a lot to do with insecurity, self-worth, and the idea that it is all somehow about that tormented life you mentioned. I was indeed tormented, for a long time. But today, I aim for an emotionally balanced life, full of good friends and family and great experiences, all of which fuel my writing with interesting personalities and scenarios.

I don’t write to record my experiences, but to be inspired by them, to create art from them.

I think it is human nature to have a desire to create. Whether the thing you want to create is a song, a book, an invention, happiness for yourself or others, or an autonomous vehicle, we should listen to that voice and do it — however we can. And I believe success is at least partly in the making, not always in achieving some end goal. Thinking of it this way calms my spirit.

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Very well said.

I lived a tormented life for a while as well, mostly self imposed I think because I felt like in order to be a writer or an artist I had to live like that. I’m glad to have found my way out of those times and spaces and to be in a happy and secure space where I, ironically enough, feel more able to and more inspired to write.

It’s interesting to me that you write to be inspired by your experiences.

I sometimes find that I discover new meanings and emotions when writing about my own experiences, but I think I generally find that it’s the experiences that inspire me to write. I’m tying to imagine it working the other way around and can’t quite.

I also think that success is often aomething that comes as a result of the process more so than the end result.

Thanks for stopping by!

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I am not sure I said it very well, when I said I write to be inspired by my experiences. What I really mean is that life brings us challenges — difficult relationships, life hurdles, illnesses, deaths of people we love.... If we look at those things through the lens of a writer, we see how they can fuel our art. Otherwise they are just the cause of pain and often have little actual value. (Except occasional lessons learned.)

As a writer, you can add them to your trove of little seeds that may grow into something more. What’s more, when those seeds find their way into our writing, they can be examined anew.

I’m glad you found your way out of the tormented place. It can be a wasteland!

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I see. That makes a lot of sense. Thanks for clarifying.

Getting out of the wasteland: I often laugh because I had to move half way around the world to learn how to live a “typical life” and be satisfied by it. Adventure is a funny thing. Sometimes it only really exists in the planning and the first steps out the door.

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Perhaps that is the answer: it calms the spirit!

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I like that!

Well for me I like the mental stimulation. Whether it is the blank page waiting to be filled with words, or the setting, plot and dialog for a video, I like the creative process. Mist of my stuff comes out silly, but I work hard at it lol ;)

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That’s kind of what I mean by comparing writing to a puzzle. If you give me a suguroku number puzzle, I’ll be totally occupied for thirty minutes or more. Writing for me is similar. I enjoy thinking of different approaches and outcomes.

I began writing as an escape from reality when I was ten years old. Now that I'm in my thirties, I write because there is a two-decades-old story that is desperate to emerge. I write to further improve my writing. I write in the hopes that one day at least one person out there will fall in love with the story that means the world to me. And I write in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, I'll be one of the lucky ones who can one day live off of their words.

:)

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That would be nice, wouldn’t it? It sounds like you at least partially write because you have something you want to share as well. Having a two decade old story in you wanting to come out must feel like a lot of pressure at times. I wish you the best!

I believe that we all are created with some talents. And especially if we have a great interest to something naturally, It is a sign that we have a competence about it. Even if you are not satisfied that you are born with writing skills, maybe you haven't taken out your potential till now. Maybe you need more time. Anyway I definitely agree that you should write book. First of all writing gives you a big passion. I can see that. If you earn also, it would be great..

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Thank you sharing your thoughts. I have heard so many people say something along the lines of I don’t know why I do this, and I can’t explain it to anybody, and I often wonder if I’m crazy for doing it, but I have to do it. I’m not that passionate about writing, but since I decided to put my efforts toward writing a book, it does feel like my passion is beginning to grow. It’s interesting what a little dedication and discipline can do.

I share these sentiments and have often seriously considered writing a book. I think a healthy dose of self criticism combined with an ability to not take oneself too seriously is where the most valuable artistic expressions are realised. By valuable I mean a symbiotic interchange between the creator and the observers of whatever art form is coming to fruition. Art can be an enigmatic pursuit and is not easily defined but I feel the equation (Time)Energy=Art.. Art comes from the heart but also utilises the gut feeling mind as well as our cerebral centers, these systems in balance effortlessly crystallise ethereal abstract visions into works that may stand up to test of time..

A good story is timeless as it captures all the intangible and formerly ineffable experiences or mysteries of life into something cohesive that transcends cultures, times, and places..

Best wishes on your venture into publishing.

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That’s interesting that you mention self-criticism (a healthy dose) as a motivator. I feel like it’s generally considered an inhibitor to creativity. You’re right, though, as with any obstacle, self-criticism can really work as a tool that pushes us toward progress, and like you said, if we’re playful enough, those two qualities will work together to help us take chances. I had never really thought about it like that before, but I absolutely agree.

I never had the intention to be a writer. I love stories, mainly tales and story tellers, but I cannot find my own.
I started here to kill time and it not a great place to be. I came back later and was so lucky to join 2 communities I like.
I learn daily, but if I have something to share?

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Everybody has something to share. I don’t know if that’s a reason why those people who write do what they do though. I think it’s what motivates me to write. That’s my conclusion for today;-)

What communities have you joined?

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I am joining several, but am most active over here freewriting (@mariannewest) and March madness at the moment (writing a novel and beta reader group (both @freewritehouse) and @crypto.piotr. In between I try a #zapfic (@felt.buzz), #microfiction (@jayna) etc. If I have a bit more time and a better connection I hope to join @bananafish and @vermillionfox more frequently too.

Can you recommend me something ?

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Are these all Discord groups, or all they Steemit groups? I’m not active in any groups. I often find that as soon as I try to become involved in a group I overextend myself and then retreat. I’ve been in retreat mode for a while now, but since my I’ve become interested in writing a book, I’d like to find a group of writers to interact with. I feel like this will help me see my project through.

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Some writing groups are more active on Steem and some are more active on Discord. Which are you looking for?

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Well, to be honest, I’m not really a fan of Discord. It kind of becomes one more thing to check and take up my time. That said, Steemit isn’t really set up in a way that is convenient for monitoring and participating (I feel) in groups. I’m looking for something that I can make work for me. That could be a Discord group, or it could be a Steemit group. I’m open to either. I just need to learn the in and outs and then fit it into my schedule.

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The group I have found to be the most serious about helping its members to work toward publishing is the Inkubator community. Here is their website: http://inkubatorcommunity.com/.

They have a very active Discord group. Some members are current and past Steemians, some not. Meet my friends @bex-dk, @jasminearch, @negativer and @poetrybyjeremy. They can answer any questions you may have.

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Thank you! I’ll follow all of these suggestions up.


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Thank you!