Tag Archives: creative process

Brainpickings Link: Why We Write

I’ve been a fan of the excellent Brain Pickings site for a couple of years, now. Between their always-interesting weekly e-mails that show up with my Sunday cup of tea (so much more of a better tradition than the long-established Sunday paper and morning talk shows, I think) and the similar site delanceyplace, source of daily excerpts from non-fiction books that often arrive between my first and second nightly bouts of insomnia, I am rarely ever hurting for new sources of things to read. While I could recommend the entirety of their archive, today I will just share one of their articles from last year about why we write.

I’m rearranging and modifying this blog this week into something a little more regular and coherent, including regular story posts, blog recommendations, and a return to the podcast. Thinking about why I write, let alone why we write, occupies perhaps even more of my time than thinking about what I’m reading, or what I should be reading, or where I should be hiking, or if anyone ever did figure out who, exactly, put the bomp in the bomp-sh-bomp-sh-bomp. Though, I’m honestly not sure if I should ever answer the question. I’m afraid that if I figure it out, I’ll no longer have that same drive to write., that the mystery will be gone from what I do.

Or perhaps (and this is what I hope) the late and incredibly great Douglas Adams already predicted what would happen:

“There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.
There is another theory which states that this has already happened.”

Write on, add your voice, and create. We are the ones who make something where nothing existed before.

Antisociology 1

“Writing is easy. You only need to stare at a piece of blank paper until your forehead bleeds.” — Douglas Adams

Writers write about people. Sure, the main subject may be a time machine or a dragon or Siberia, but first and foremost, they write about people. In order to write about people, they must know people, meet people, talk to people. They must learn people. In addition to being a student of their craft, they must be a student of the culture, and maybe of all cultures.

Writing is solitary. Writers can’t talk to others, can’t be disturbed, can’t work in groups. Sure, editing can be done in groups, but the actual work of writing must be done in a closed room, in a cell, pulling each word out after the other and spilling blood on the page. If a writer is in a room with other people, or a bar, or a coffeeshop, or on top of the Washington Monument, he must still be alone. Barriers go up when the notebook comes out. She can’t talk to anyone around her while she pushes the words out of her pen. Nothing can exist during the writing… if something else exists, the writing stops.

And herein lies the problem we face:  We have to be with people to write but we can’t write when we’re with people.

Grab a coffee. It’s going to be a long day.