Why I Write

Someone asked me recently why I write, and I thought to myself, it’s because I must write. My brain knows that I have to do it. I can’t possibly imagine myself not writing. The question was silly, so it seemed. But then I woke up in the middle of the night, thinking to myself: I write because I have to. I write, because I need to.  And I realized that I ask other people all the time why they do what they do, what motivates them, and how they achieve their goals. And thus, in response to that same question I always ask others: this is why I write.

Asking me not to write is like asking me not to think. I write, because it helps me understand the world. It lets me put thoughts down in a place outside of my head, look at them, wonder about them, and push them further. I write, because it’s how I think.

I write, because I love stories. I am continually inspired by the people around me, and know that everyone has more experience and stories to share than could ever be recorded. I love hearing what people have to say, and learning from the amazing adventures of people around me.

I love ghost-writing. I like being able to help someone put ideas into word, to craft their mission statement, to fulfill their potential.  I have worked on many occasions as a ghost-writer for students and international people who have learned English as a second language. I know that for them, they must be much more articulate in their native tongue; I like being able to help translate these ideas and visions into print. I write, not because other people don’t have ideas, but precisely because they DO have ideas. If I can help capture your spirit, your ideas, and your thoughts in the tangible, printed form, I can think of no better gift to give you.

I write, because I love people. I am fascinated and star-struck by the wonderful, creative, talented, motivated, exceptional people around me. I can’t get enough of you. I think of life as the greatest blessing, and I love learning from other people.  When I get too busy, too full of myself, when I feel depressed, or when I get distracted: the people around me gently re-direct me towards a better being, they help me figure things out, they keep me grounded, they lift my spirits. I write about other people, and this act keeps me grounded by granting me a wider frame of perspective.

The interviews that I do are by far one my favorite things to do. I love talking to new people, listening to their stories and travels, and learning something new. You know the feeling you get when you walk away from a store, just having purchased something? With a delicious new gadget in hand, wrapped up in tissue paper and placed carefully into a shopping bag, ready for your eager consumption? The shopper’s high is the best metaphor I can find to describe what happens to me when I walk away from an interview. I’m happy. There are other forms of work that tire me out and leave me exhausted: listening to stories energizes me.

I write, because writing helps me to remember things. Writing lets me put down into a more permanent state the fleeting emotions and whims of each stage of my life. When I look back on my writing, I can dive back into the feeling of being twelve and awkward, fifteen with teenage angst, seventeen and leaving my family for a small college in Ohio, twenty-one and beginning graduate school in the biggest city I’d ever lived in, and twenty-four and headed home to California again. When I go back and look at my scribblings from my younger years, and the diaries of my middle-school, high-school, college, and even last year’s writing, I can see how I’ve changed, grown, and become different. Sometimes I don’t like to look back at my old writings: my memories of the harder times are tough to look at. At the same time, having the drafts, the memories, and the experiences are each lessons I can learn from, despite how embarrassing or hard it is to look back on things past (there even posts from last year I can’t believe I wrote!).

I write, because I want to be a better person. There’s nothing harder than looking at yourself squarely in the metaphysical mirror and really asking yourself what you want to be, who you are, and why you do what you do. I write to explore myself and to figure out what I want and who I am.

I write, because I love ideas. Writing helps me think. I love thinking about new ideas, about shifting our imaginations towards different ways of conceptualizing the way we work, why we do what we do, and the physical, tangible places and spaces we live in. (Oh that’s right: my day job, in architecture / urbanism / design). I love capturing a thought or an idea into an “ah-HA!” memo to myself, even if the memo becomes an impossible-to-read post-it note that sits unreadable next to my bed, because I was too tired to turn the light on in the middle of the night and the markings on said post-it end up being completely illegible.

I write because if I don’t, I can’t sleep at night. I often wake up in the middle of the night thinking of new ideas, stories, and things to share. My family is all-too-familiar with my 3AM emails and text messages (thank goodness for “silent” on cell phones).  I sometimes sit up for hours at night, reading by myself, mulling over new ideas.  If I don’t write it down, I’d be up all night, churning, wondering and thinking.

I write, because writing well is a great form of listening. If I’ve done my research and looked carefully and critically someone else’s work, the act of responding, through writing or listening, means that you’ve heard someone else’s ideas.  By meditating over the concepts and presentations of others, you can push yourself and others to develop new connections, possibilities and ideas. Much of the writing I do is not possible without the help and inspiration of others.

I write, because I have things to say and ideas to share. We are meant to be connected to each other, and writing, speaking, talking, laughing and drawing are some of the ways in which we share ideas. I love sharing my ideas and my thinking. And I hope that you, readers, find some use in what I say and why I do what I do.

19 Responses to Why I Write

  1. Neal Mueller says:

    Nice article Sarah. I like when you wrote, “Writing helps me think.” I’m the same way. When I write things down it helps my brain move onto other tasks/thoughts — and keeps me from perseverating on the same thought over and over again. I also find that when I write things down I find that I disagree with what I was thinking — the process of writing helps me think too.

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks, Neal! I know exactly what you mean – not only do I have to write things out to think about them, I have to write things down so that I can focus more deliberately on one or two ideas at a time, rather than having everything caught up in a jumble all at once in my brain. Ditto for having the same thought over and over again: sometimes it’s as if we have to actually take the thought out of our minds and put it on paper before we can make any progress.

  2. Rebecca says:

    I wish I had a simpler relationship with writing. And I have to say, sometimes I feel like a fake writer, because I don’t feel all these things all the time. I am going to try and cultivate and improve my relationship with writing… thanks for the inspiration!

    • Sarah says:

      Rebecca – I loved your two links this morning, to Oh Life and 750 words. What great finds! Fake writer? You’ve been writing such great posts for years – take your own advice from your 7 networking tips — say what you want to be, because that’s what you are.

      Keep up the great writing – and to everyone, I highly recommend Rebecca’s blog modite – it’s fantastic.

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  4. Augustine Dillard says:

    Wow all I can say is that you are a great writer! Where can I contact you if I want to hire you?

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