Why I Write – A Testimony from the Writing Trenches

There was a long period in my life where the only thing I wrote was assigned by a teacher. Looking back, the joy and pride I felt when I found the perfect words to explain the workings of the heart should have been some clue that my future was in front of a computer rather than in a doctor’s office. As the Universe would have it, it took me four years of college in a pre-medical program and five years working in the field of behavioral psychology before I would admit to myself that writing was something I wanted to pursue.

Once I figured it out, I couldn’t imagine how I’d missed it for so long. There were so many clues, so many reasons why writing was the perfect profession for me. Here are a few of the things that clued me into (and keep me pursuing) my passion for writing.

  1. Writing gives me an excuse to keep learning. I work as a technical writer, a job where I have to ask a lot of questions and learn a lot of new information so that I can write manuals or documentation, or train others how to complete a task or use a product. I also love to write how-to and informational articles about topics that are new to me. This means I’m always learning something new and learning makes me happy.

  2. Writing opens my eyes to the world around me. Because I write, I’m always looking at the world from the perspective of a writer. This means I see the beauty in things that other people might pass by without a second glance. It means I look for the story behind the obvious façades of people and places. I try to see things from other perspectives. Writing helps me see past the obvious.

  3. When I write, I feel alive. It’s cliché, yes. But writing excites me. When I turn off the TV and turn on my laptop, I get giddy with anticipation. What will flow out of my imagination today? Whose story can I tell? What experience will I share? Sometimes that blank page is intimidating, but most of the time, it’s exactly what I need to energize and inspire me.

  4. My words reach people. One of my favorite things to do is write letters. I don’t do it nearly enough these days, but writing a letter to a friend, someone I haven’t seen in ages, or the editor of the local newspaper is a powerful act. The message can be one of love, sadness, longing or anger, but when I write a letter (or an article, story or essay) I know my words will be taken to heart. I’m careful with my words; I write and rewrite until they say exactly what I mean. And when I let them go, I know that I have expressed myself to the best of my ability.

  5. I’m a better writer than I am a speaker. I’ve never been one for speaking in public. Place me in front of even just one person and I often find myself tongue-tied and useless. But give me a piece of paper and a pencil, and I can create the perfect speech for a wedding. I can write out arguments for or against any issue I feel strongly about. I can tell you exactly how I feel about you and why. With writing, I can reorganize my thoughts and restructure my sentences until I’ve gotten them just right. Conversation is so immediate. Once it’s spoken it’s gone, and there’s no adjusting or rewriting.

These are just a few of the reasons why I find myself writing, both for a living and for fun. Why do you write?

Ami writes about her attempts to stay healthy, live a local and green life and write that Great American Novel (or something like it) at Writing: My Life. You can also find her at Write Out Loud, a blog for writers who want to free the stories inside them.