“There is no greater tragedy than bearing an untold story inside you.”
So goes the quote (attributed to Maya Angelou), summing up the curious compulsion that so many people on this planet have to WRITE. To tell a story – any kind of story – and continuing a verbal tradition started around the campfires of centuries long passed. Some words we create just for us, some to share with others, but all are brought into this world by a desire to translate our thoughts into things.
Here at the Australian Writers’ Centre, we’re constantly fascinated by the variety of writers we see every day – different ages, backgrounds and motivations for wanting to write. And recently we wanted to know specifically, what is it that fuels your writing? What motivates YOU to write?
Thanks to all those who shared – we received more than 300 replies and over the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing some of them with you. We hope reading them reaffirms why YOU do it, or inspires you in some way. So, without further ado…
Why do I write? To enjoy the feeling of being immersed in the moment, to enjoy the mood I'm creating, to chortle as I weave a story I find amusing. It is a wonderful opportunity to imagine, to revisit a special place, remember a scent, a taste, a feeling, a moment. Writing inspires me. – Gillian Tilney
I find writing for me is a way to express my creative side, as well as my thoughts and feelings. Having Spina Bifida I don't have many outlets so writing for me fills that void. When writing my disability doesn't get in the way. When writing I can be completely me and completely free. – Sharon Martin
It's the intimacy and the satisfaction that keep me coming back. I see a lot of beauty in the world. Sometimes it's overwhelming. Writing gives me breath through these raw sensations. Writing is a call to step back, to be with the vista on a microscopic level. How in-tune can I become with my sensations? How can I transmit it to someone else? When I can successfully do this, I get to be seen. Being seen, and even not being seen but having my skin out there, adds infinite vitality to my life. – Jeffery Raig
Writing is the cheapest form of travel. It allows me to go anywhere and stay within five hundred metres of my house.
It allows me to control the weather, who I speak to and what people look like and wear.
I can determine who has a good day and who upsets other people.
I can issue justice, judgement and even humour (can even determine if people find it funny).
All done from a position of anonymity or recognition depending on the mood. – John Longhurst
I write to understand. To learn. To capture the beauty of that struggle. Every poem, short story, novella is an attempt to sort through sensations, memories and my internal monologue about the world and my experiences in it, and create something coherent and resonant. I am fueled by it. By an incessant need to solve the puzzle of my human experience. – Vicki Wilson
I write to exercise my creative. Writing allows me to express myself. I have so many stories from a rich and abundant life; and this is what I put down. I love the challenge to make something beautiful with words. – Jo Comans
When I come home from my mediocre job, and wilt into my mediocre chair, I think to myself, ‘man my life is mediocre.' But then, something extraordinary happens, my fingertips find their way to this keyboard, and all of a sudden!
I'm chasing a strange hooded man, through a busy subway. Or leading the battle against the Gorquillian rebellion, In the Great War of the galaxies. Or saving my beloved from a fiery dragon, and then!… and then my mediocre doorbell rings…– Anthony Ivanov
– Amanda Augustine
Why do I write? For the excitement!
Writing takes me on a creative journey like no other. When you start, you have no idea where it's going to lead, that's where the excitement comes in.
I can take on the persona of a young boy travelling the world discovering new things, morph into a fire breathing dragon, or become a concert pianist performing with an orchestra. The creative writer gets to be whatever they wish, immersing themselves into a new world of possibilities, at least for a time. – Allison Ball
I write to experience different worlds, or a life other than my own, from the safety of my happy, content life. I write to avoid wasting time in front of TV shows that don't interest me.
I write to express myself, because I am not articulate when I talk.
I write to exercise that creative urge that comes from deep within. I write to explore story arcs, characters and plot twists. Once I start it is all consuming.
I write to make use of the everyday connections and conversations I hear that are too interesting not to share. – Joanne Morrison
Deadlines motivate me. Hit me with a deadline and I'm panicked into action. Somehow with my mouth dry, a jumble of research in front of me and little idea of where to start, I come through, bang on time. – Jill Varley
I write because I must. My world is incomplete without words. I write because I am curious. An overheard discussion, individuals interacting, a newspaper headline – my response is the same. I see a story waiting to be told. I write to maintain peace in my head. To empty it of the characters who insist on being heard. Gently they claim my attention, sharing their pain, and laughter, their struggles or success. They keep me focussed when things run smoothly. They offer encouragement when things are almost too hard. For me, a life without words, without writing is unimaginable. – Ruth Morgan
As a working parent this is something that I get to do that is all about me. I can do it at home in my PJs and if my daughter interrupts me or needs me it's not like anything is broken. There is no prep time, clean up afterward, I can pick it up and put it down. And in the end I have built something all by myself. – Paula Mason
I write because the stories demand to be told. Characters gnaw at my brain until I breathe life into them on the page. Much like ravenous chicks scrabbling for dominance in the nest. Each fighting for its survival. I write to keep my sanity. Once the story is out… I can rest. At least until the next idea hatches and won't cease until it's fledged. – Rebecca Wilson
At night I begin to dream where last night's dream dropped me off. There are people I don't know in places vaguely familiar. They speak. I listen. If they swim, I swim beside them. If they fly, I fly behind them. In time I record what they say. They cannot see me. They become real to me until the novel is finished. I don't think I sleep well. – Christos Morris
I have bees in my head that never stop buzzing, swarming with ideas and humour, even making me laugh out loud sometimes when I'm on the train. So I write. On backs of envelopes, around the edges of newspapers, even brown paper bags still stained with the meat pie and sauce I've just devoured, I inject flowery words of romance, passionate poems about injustice, lyrics for a song about Australia. Will I ever stop writing? Only if the bees leave me for someone else. In the meantime, I'll keep writing! – Tess Rowley
Writers have left profound impacts on me over the years. I still cut out clippings on pieces which inspire me. I write because I hope I will one day have such an impact on another. – Kimberley Price