Flash Writing Challenge: Why I Write

I’ve written plenty of posts about why I write. However, Chuck Wendig recently posed a Flash Fiction Challenge, not for fiction but fact with the question:

I’m asking for a 1000 word essay (meaning, blog post).

And I want it on this subject:


And though Chuck gave a deadline of July 31st, the post only just caught my eye and intrigued my noggin enough to let my fingers honk up this post.

So here goes. A thousand words on why I write.

I could offer you a plethora of reasons why I write.

Maybe I practice the dark art of wordsmithing because the voices tell me to.

Or perhaps you’d prefer to believe that I have a compulsion to write that’s comparable to needing a hit of the good stuff, where if I don’t get my fix I start twitching, get sweaty and uneasy and feel nauseous.

It could be that I don’t have a choice in the matter, like breathing, sleeping, shitting or eating. It’s in my nature to make stuff up and share it with others.

Another, more dreamy or poetic reason comes in the form of doing something I love. Even when it’s hot and sunny and all the people are laughing and enjoying life, I drag myself to the chair and force my hands to do things on the keyboard because it’s what I adore, it soothes the ache in my head.

And then we come to the inner writer, the guy who sits behind my eyes and takes notes even when I’m not paying attention. That little fella takes it all in so he can nudge me at some point in the future and say:

“Hey, Farmer, remember that lady you saw a few weeks ago? The one with the funny hat and brown dog that looked like an evil Ewok? Yeah, her. Well you should stick her in your next scene, yeah? You know it makes sense.”

These are all good reasons.

Even when I’m not writing, I’m writing.

For me it’s a side effect of being alive.

Writing is what I look forward to, what I dream about and ponder in quiet moments. It’s what I feel in my gut when something big happens – be that a high-five moment of elation or a panic-stricken event of dread and gloom.

Even as I write this my brain is sifting through plots of stories gone by and stories yet to come. I lament those cast aside in search of bigger tastier fish because among the dregs there’s always a gem waiting to be unearthed.

Even then there’s SK’s rule: Kill your darlings.

In her post on the same subject, Indigo Spider had this to say:

Without stories and poems, I am completely adrift and lost.  I will always write for it is my lifeline.

Sailing with that metaphor for a moment, I’d say writing is my lifeboat. It’s what keeps me afloat. It’s also my go to place when the status quo is far from calm – be that high seas of emotional goodness, or stormy thunderous waves of gloom and doom.

For me writing every day isn’t always possible, so I harness those moments when life’s equilibrium tilts on its precarious balancing act. In a recent post I mentioned that I used to abhor the day job because it got in the way of what I wanted to be – a full-time writer. Now I’ve come to view the day job as a different sort of passion that co-habits rather well with my need to write.

So, at this halfway point, 500 words down, what have we learned so far?

  • That writing is a necessity?
  • That I see it as some kind of drug?
  • That my inner writer could be evidence of a split personality?

Yeah, that’s all probably true.

But it’s more than that. It’s also a sort of therapy. It stops the weirdness in my head from growing too big and loud. Everyone’s got weirdness in their heads, right?

You know the feeling – like when someone’s talking away and you zone out for a second only to snap back to reality when a thought enters your head like:

“I could lick that persons face right now. I won’t, obviously. But I could.”


“I could start singing right at this moment, out loud, big and bold. Not that I will, but what’s to stop me?”

Tell me, dear blog reader, I’m not the only one who thinks shit like that, right?

Back on point, when I write the world isn’t there. Well it is, but it’s just not important, more like background noise that’s filtered out. It’s just me, fingers tapping on the keyboard and the words flowing across the screen.

Anything can happen when my brain and fingers work in sync, and though I have to reel them in on occasion to manage the balancing act between going with the flow of what characters want and keeping a story cohesive, it’s the anticipation of “what next?” that keeps me riveted to the evolutionary slip and slide of the story.

These days I’m more controlled with my writing. I know I have to get from A to C but let’s see what happens at B. Writing is like a slower version of watching TV. What happens next is often as much a surprise to me as it is to the reader later on.

Aside from the crazy drug references, potential personality disorder and therapeutic issues, writing extends beyond the mere act of creating a story from nothing.

Here’s a story within a story.

Today, a fellow colleague, let’s call him Bob, approached me with a book and a smile. At first glance I knew what it was. My book, The Range. Yet I did a double-take because it didn’t seem real.

Bob had bought the print version on Amazon and looked pleased as punch to hold it up to me, the author. I signed it for him, which was kinda weird. When the moment had passed I felt a surge of pride. I’d written a book that someone had bought and would likely start reading that evening.

That’s something that came out of my head.

Stuff I’d made up!

Real life locations aside, Bob would be reading the result of all my needs, desires, cravings, voices in my head and nudges from my inner writer.

How cool and weird is that?

So, to sum up – I write because it’s who I am, it’s what I was born to do.

8 thoughts on “Flash Writing Challenge: Why I Write

  1. It is hard to explain sometimes why we write, isn’t it? I mean, we know yet, well, we don’t. At least, I do and yet I don’t. It is just something I have to do and when I go too long without writing something doesn’t feel right. And sometimes I think it is only other writers who understand all the explanations on why we writer… we just get it, yeah.

    1. Maybe it’s because of our shared time in Imaginationland. Writers spend a lot of time there compared to your non writer types. I could have had a one liner for this post: I write because [insert your own reason here] and left it at that.

  2. I spent years daydreaming, then one day decided to do something constructive with those daydreams and turn them into written stories. For me, writing is occasionally a torture, but not one I can give up. I reassure myself that George Orwell had a real love-hate relationship with his novel-writing. You are so lucky, Dave, that you always look forward to your writing sessions: that being said, maybe I’ve been editing for too many months and need to remind myself of the buzz that goes with writing a first draft.

    1. Editing hold a different attraction for me, more so when I’ve left the writing along for a while to stew. Then it feels like I’m reading someone else’s work and often swear at my screen over the horrendous dribble, but do occasionally smile and think “Hey, that bit’s not too bad.”

      You’re right though, too much time editing can dull that energy of looking forward to that first draft. When the Holt is done I’ll set it aside for a while, hopefully encourage some beta readers to rip it to pieces while I get on with something else. I was starting to lose focus until last week where a sudden rush cranked out 4 chapters. As it’s a long book it’s not easy to remain focussed on the bigger picture whilst enjoying the scene I’m currently writing.

      But the army of words is growing and the characters are dancing enough for my own amusement, which makes me happy.

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