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Why do you write?

What motivates your craft? Do you seek to entertain, to inform, to challenge, to grow personally?

Do you write for yourself, with a specific person or audience in mind?

Why do you do it? It’s hard and yet you carry on. Why?

I write to challenge myself. An idea pops into my head, and the challenge is for me to spin a story from it. No other outcome is acceptable for any idea. I get 1 - 2 ideas a day, so I have to be choosy about which ones I concentrate on. If I’m in the middle of a story or two, I jot down as much about the idea as I can and file it.
I write for me. I want to entertain me primarily. If the story doesn’t work for me, it won’t work for anyone else. I’m hard to please with my writing, but every story I do write brings me closer to being satisfied at the end of the writing.
Why do I do it? Why do bees collect pollen? Why do plants grow? Because they have to. I have to write so that my head doesn’t get filled with ideas. If that happened, there would be no room for things like mowing the lawn and putting gas in the car.
Thank you for asking.

That’s interesting, especially the sentiment that if it doesn’t work for you then it won’t for anyone else. I wonder if there are some dissatisfied authors out there with audience who love their work, yet they themselves can never feel content with it.

What is your emotional state when you write?

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I write because I can’t stop writing. In reviewing a lot of recent work I’m seeing my main theme right now is trying to stay grounded in the current world climate. That, and write myself out of a very trauma-based identity box. I can’t talk about my feelings very well but I can write poetry and then later I end up translating myself in very silly “ohhhhhhhh” moments.

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I’m also very motivated by other writers - I grew up reading Stephen King so when I read a good thriller and/or horror I get really amped up and inspired.

I don’t really change my state much when I write. I write in so many different places that it’s just natural to pick up a pen and go. Sometimes, if I’m writing for more than an hour, I can get in a groove and concentrate on the writing 95%.

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Sounds like writing for both of you is compulsive, like you are compelled to do it, you can’t stop and if you do stop then you’re left with a lot of pent up emotional or intellectual material.

I write when I get excited about a scene, idea, or character. Although I have to admit that often the writing is slow-going or stalls. However if I get into the swing of it and get some momentum, then I think I feel a bit like you two describe–it becomes difficult not to write.

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A second aspect to keep in mind is the Motivation to Write. As soon as I begin a story, I have a great desire to see what happens next. I’m also intrigued by how it will end. These things keep me going until I finish.

Compulsion is definitely close to the feeling :sweat_smile:

I previously journaled for 2.5 years straight (Feb2016-Oct2019, through sobriety and the '16 election administration), the later portion every day. I figured out that having a rule works for me, so I made one to write a full (composition notebook) page every day. Often it would be more than that, and I very rarely missed a day. I would sometimes get out of bed if I’d forgotten to do it.

The journals started as semi-brainstorming/braindumping poetry ideas, and then became mixed with regular journaling - to the point that I’m now considering transcribing them as a sort of poetic-memoir thingy. (Yes thingy.)

Creative wise, the compulsion is often simply to get something on the page. I feel like a writer, so when I don’t write I feel as you said, very pent up. The goals (publication, renown) are almost tertiary to the act itself.

I used to write for an imagined audience, but now when I think of readership, I imagine whatever audience I may have will find me, so I’m no longer writing for anyone else. My poetry is edited with my own aesthetic/meaning/message in mind. I’ve been doing it long enough that I know what reads/sounds good, and I read enough contemporary poetry to know what sells/gets published online, and I guess I tend to write in the middle of that.

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The ongoing daily journaling is an interesting endeavor. Have you found that the more you write, the more you write? Meaning, if you get into a habit of writing, do you produce more? Are you more satisfied with what you produce the more often you are doing it?

I’m currently doing NaNoWriMo with a friend (although my goal is 15,000 words, not the 50,000 needed to be officially affiliated with the event). I’m a bit unsure at the moment how to feel about my daily writing. One the one hand, I do feel good about myself that I’m being creative every day; on the other, however, is that ususally I write if I feel compelled, and ususally this compulsion lends itself to writing I think is better than writing done as part of a routine.

Do you find a difference between your writing if done as part of a routine vs a wave or waves of inspiration?

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!5 to 16,000 is about my average for a month with my Emily novel. She’s in her 7th and final life right now, so the tunnel is coming to an end.
I do find that if I write about 1000 words a day, the words keep coming. Sometimes I get a wav of words that I find hard to navigate. I just write them down as they come and sort them later. I get good stuff this way, so I won’t deny them coming.

It all depends, of course… I can remember sometimes dating a page and writing “I don’t know what to write today.” but starting means finishing means something is coming out of it.

On days when I would find myself in a really good groove, I could write 2-3 or more full pages, or settle into working on something outside of the journaling, like drafting new poems or editing pieces for submission.

Here is the stack, all but the last one filled (I stopped this project sometime in 2019 and now try to write daily in different ways). The first one I started on a whim, and then it became the compulsion, and I just found that college ruled comp books worked for me. I plan on transcribing soon, although I may wait until after I move next month.
These days I do my drafting / brain storming / etc in a sketchbook.

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I love the marble notebooks also. I wrote my epic on 70-page spiral notepads, 12-13 to a novel. With Emily, I found the marble books work best in my workspace at the kitchen table. They hold a few less words per page, but it still comes to 225 words per page on average. I’m over 100k words and likely to hit 130k before I’m done.

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Would you recommend practices like these to others who were interested in writing? Do you think sustained daily writing is necessary to produce meaningful work?

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Most definitely!

Daily writing - it builds the ‘muscle,’ the practice.
It becomes the part of your day you look forward to.
You get down the ideas that circle through your head all day, and those often springboard elsewhere.
Even if it’s a bad, cliche, nonsense idea, you can still tick off your to-do list that you wrote something.
It can also be a breath of fresh air. Say you have been working on one story/poem/idea etc for a while and feel absolutely stuck. Sit down and write something totally different, something funny and ridiculous or dark and dreary. Suddenly your main project pops back up and you have a breakthrough. Bam, back to work.
It really is about just “getting something down on the page” and specifically writing by hand, which is a whole other thing I could go into.

Cheap notebooks - I wanted to note there is something freeing about using a .50cent notebook to write.
Sit in front of a Word doc… you’ll be judging, editing as you go, noticing every typo/grammar mistake, obsessing over word count, all things that will slow you down. Being in a cheap notebook that you can replace is motivating - it’s fun to fill 70-100 pages of your own handwriting.
It’s low stakes - you can get out the “drivel” that you’d be embarrassed to see in 12pt font.
And it can be stream of consciousness - you never know what random ideas will pour out of you when you hit a really good writing flow.
Even if what you write is not part of a bigger project, maybe someday in the future you flip back and realize how much gold you provided yourself.

Writing is a physical act - kinetic and extremely human.

Great ideas here.
My routine is to get up at 6 am Mon-Friday. I actually sit down to write at about 615. I have until about 745 to write. This is a precious time for my Emily novel. 3-5 pages a day adds up.
On weekends, I do other works. There’s always a new short story to work on, or a finished one that needs a good edit. Last weekend, I researched markets for horror and dark fantasy. I submitted four stories.
I love writing with a pen in an inexpensive notebook. They’re portable, and I’m much faster with a pen than with a keyboard. Down in Florida, I write for about 2.5 hours looking over the ocean. Very inspiring way to write about Florida.

These are great ideas, and I’m particularly curious about the merits of writing by hand versus typing. I just listened to a evocative podcast on Thucydides, hailed as one of the first war correspondents, writing on the devastating war between Ancient Athens and Sparta. One of the moments of the podcast that struck me was when an historian explained how Thucydides recorded his observations–most likely with sparse notes in the field, with much of what he witnessed and the testimonials he solicited committed to memory and later dicated to scribes. Yet he is regarded as accurate. The historian remarked that it’s well known that people of less-literate cultures had and have vastly superior memories to ours because they didn’t and don’t rely on writing to store information like we do.

Bringing it back to your point about writing by hand, it seems like perhaps we’ve traded the potency of our memories for our ability and desire to write. So what might we be trading by typing? On the other hand, writing has undoubtedly created vast stores of recorded informations, ideas, stories, and art that otherwise would be lost were it only oratory. So perhaps there is a great advantange in our writing being done by processor as well.

What do you think?

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Typing is too demanding to keep up with my thoughts. A pen is just barely able to record what’s pouring out of my head sometimes.
The only caveat to typing is when I use Dragon Naturally Speaking. I find that I write 5 times faster this way, and only have to make minor corrections. The key is to use it a lot so that it can keep up with you accurately. Otherwise, it gets frustrating waiting for it to catch up with you.