Why Do I Keep Writing?

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I don’t feel like writing. I have spent my day writing code and solving problems. Then there is all the social interactions. I love my coworkers but with my personality, all that interaction becomes emotionally and mentally draining. So here I am at Starbucks, forcing myself to write. Writing about how I don’t feel like writing.

I keep coming back to why I think I want to be a writer. I have written things that people liked. They told me that I can write well and I should continue. A few have asked if I’ve thought of writing a book. So all these comments and questions make me stop and wonder. Do I want to be a writer? Do I want to write a book?

I read Jon Acuff’s book “Quitter” and he talks about hinge moments. Those moments that for good or ill, propel you in a given direction. I think back to the sixth grade. Mrs. Bryant had us write a short story each week using the 20 spelling words we had. I didn’t want to write a different story each week so I developed “Detective Alan”. He lived in Oregon and had a pet muskrat. It was a spelling word my first week. Each week he would go on an adventure and solve a case. After the stories were graded, Mrs Bryant had us read our stories to the class. At the end of the year, I put all the stories in a binder. I used our TI computer to create a cover I printed out on our dot-matrix printer. I had a book in all it’s pre-iBooks and sixth-grader glory.

On the other hand, I don’t write nearly enough to truly “hone my craft.” Some of that stems from my lack of energy or desire. Another part is I don’t feel like I have anything to say. I struggled for years wanting to be the writer that has unique insight that makes the world stop and take notice of my literary genius. I’ve slowly moved away from that mindset to “no one wants to hear me complain about my work again or hear about the same insight I’ve had over and over again because I forget so easily.” I know there is pride that lies at the root of my desire to be an author. I want people to highlight one of my pithy sayings in their copy of my book. To have a date notice my face on the back of the book as we walk by a Barnes & Noble.

Take away the “fame and glory”, any writer will tell you it is a rare thing to find as a writer, and what remains? I want to make an impact. I want someone’s life to change because of something I write. I feel that tension so heavy right now because I spend my days working on websites advertising bacon and eyeglasses. I want to create something more lasting than a promotional website that will disappear in two months time.

Writing is hard work. As Hemingway famously said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” I write about things I’m wrestling through and so writing forces me to confront them head on. Even in my short stories, I infuse some theme I’m thinking about. Regardless the format, the answers do not come easily if they come at all.

On those days when I become especially frustrated with work, I dream of quitting and spending all my time writing. Obviously, I would be more prolific then. Then reality sets in. All that freedom would not be any better. I would just have more time to come up with excuses for not writing.

So what do I do? I get up a little early some mornings and spend a few minutes writing because it helps me process and prepare for the day. I find a rock in the forest and let my mind wander and write. In short, I stop worrying about it so much. I stop comparing my writing, how often I write and how I write to others. I continue to develop stories. I continue to wrestle. I continue to bleed.