Why do you write?

I was asked this a few times on a school visit I did recently (which I totally meant to blog about and then forgot). For me, I deal with things by writing about them. Not necessarily in fiction (although having just written a book about a girl who’s father’s died, it seems I do that too), but if I’m struggling with something, I work through it by writing about it.

I didn’t actually realise that was the case until I was in labour with Harry and in a right state. I asked David to bring a notebook and pen to the hospital and sat and wrote and wrote and felt much better. Even now, if I wake up stressing about something in the middle of the night, coming downstairs and writing about it – even if it’s a blog post or sometimes even a tweet – makes me feel much better, more in control. I think partly it’s because my mind is hopping around all over the place, but if I write stuff down, I can impose an order on it.

I thought about this yesterday because Harry seems to be the same. We were walking home from school and a man stopped us to ask if I had a lighter. Once he’d gone, Harry said, “What did that man want?” “To borrow a lighter.” “What’s a lighter?” “You will have seen them. You use them instead of matches.” “Why did he want one?” “Probably to light a cigarette.” “What’s a cigarette?” (I hadn’t realised until then that Harry didn’t know what a cigarette is, but we don’t know anyone who smokes anymore so I shouldn’t have been surprised.) I explained cigarettes to him and then he said “Miaowser smokes…”

Miaowser is one of Harry’s (many) pretend friends. Harry then started telling me how Miaowser is the only one of his pretend friends who smokes and how his other pretend friends tell him not to, but Miaowser does it anyway. I’ve actually noticed Harry doing this before – processing something I’ve told him by putting it in a story – but I didn’t really think much of it until yesterday. Interesting, don’t you think?

Also a good excuse to once again share my favourite ever Harry video:

Why do you write? 

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6 thoughts on “Why do you write?

  1. I write to stay well. I write in order to be myself even though I no longer look like the person i believe myself to be. I write because I hope, one day, to make something of a living from it. I write because I can. I write because I am driven to by something I don’t understand myself. I write to make sense of things. I write to reach out to people. I write to communicate and to seek understanding. I write to demonstrate my persistence; that I just will not give up on myself, no matter what.

    Also… I can only work from home and if there’s work available, I’m not managing to get any (and that would be writing, too). So, for now, I have two options: write novels or watch Jeremy Kyle. Reason enough for anyone to turn novelist, methinks!

  2. Up until a few years ago I was a bit like you, I wrote my way through everything and knew it was a sure fire way to work things out. I kept journals and wrote most days, then when I started work I stopped and in that sense haven’t really started again despite the fact it would probably have helped me a lot this last couple of years. When I was a teenager I wrote so many vaguely fictionalised versions of all the rubbish I experienced at school, it was definitely a coping mechanism. I also used to write letters to people knowing that I was never going to send them / deliver them, but just writing them helped. When I do write something now that’s a bit more personal I always feel better, maybe I need to think about this and go back to doing it more often.

    Lately I’ve been finding that I get characters jumping into my brain, I think that’s a main driver in my deciding to give fiction writing a proper go.

  3. I was just thinking about this.
    D’you know I’m only just realising what a powerful tool writing is as a way to work through stuff and keep me sane. After years of writing you think I would’ve got this already, but when I’m really stressed it’s the first thing I forget. I didn’t get to do much writing this year, and it’s been a tough year, but now, with starting Nano, I’m begining to see how much I’ve missed it.

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