“Why do you write?”
I myself write for many reasons, which have already been discussed here on YAOTL (one of the perks of being a late-in-the-month blogger). So I want to address the question itself, and what it can mean for writers.&
This question is never going to be a big deal during the times when the words are flowing and the story is urgent, insistent. At those times, “why” is beside the point.
But there are times when “why” becomes a useful question. For example:
Should I keep writing? Maybe other situations in life have become more urgent. Maybe writing has begun to seem futile. Maybe it doesn’t seem worth it. Maybe you haven’t reached your goals. Maybe you just have no ideas for what to write next. Whatever the reason, you’re wondering whether to keep at it.
What should I write next? You’re eyeing a few possible projects, some of which excite you more than others, some of which are more marketable (you think) than others. Maybe a project you’re thinking about is scary—emotionally, financially, psychologically, politically. Which way do you go?
Should I try to publish / get an agent / self-publish? Maybe you’ve been writing for a while, and you haven’t pursued publication, but now you’re thinking you might like to try. Maybe you’ve never shown your work to anyone, but you’re tempted to go to an open mic night or find a critique partner. What would it mean for you to share your work, to hear others’ reactions, to put yourself out there that way?
In these situations, getting back to the “why” question can help you figure out what your priorities are, and where you want to put your energy. Are you writing for yourself or other people? Is writing, for you, a way to change the world or to escape it? What stories do you want to tell and why? Where would you like to be, as a writer, five years from now? Ten? How do you feel about writing right now—excited, nervous, fearful, tired, burned out, frustrated, hopeful? Are you itching to devote more time to it, or take a break?
The answers may change over time, so it can be good to revisit them.