Why We Write

2 minute read

Stumbled upon a subtly opinionated video about “Why so Many People Want to Be Writers” which really got me thinking.

The gist is this: we write because we don’t talk. We feel like we have ideas that aren’t being heard by loved ones, so we write them down, hoping someone, somewhere, will respond.
…Not too sure what to think about it.
I found the comments interesting. Some, in agreement:

I feel incredibly called out


this hit home hard.

Some, in disagreement:

I don’t agree with this video, but it is an interesting theory. I write precisely because it helps me think.


Very poetical and is in the theme of a lot of your videos, although I I do not agree. ““I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”

I really liked this last comment. I’ve always found I come to understand a topic better when I write about it. Likewise, I often discover the limits of my knowledge when I try to explain it to someone else.

My Thoughts on Why We Write

I’m thinking this video is purposefully a bit controversial and over-simplistic. Not everyone who writes does so just because no one will listen to them. But I think it’s true that you write to spread your ideas beyond the circle of people you talk to. Be it into the future (ie, because you want to preserve those ideas), or around the world (because you want to affect the world).
Another reason I write is to solicit feedback on my ideas. A conversation can do that too, but then you have a much narrower pool of reviewers.
on the flip side, I think there are elements of truth to this message. I think sometimes we post to Facebook (or a blog like this) because of a lack of face-to-face conversations. Admittedly, that might be a reason I blog: beyond my wife and two kids, I don’t get out a ton, or have many conversations. (Starting a WordPress meetup is also a response to this, I think).
Lastly, for myself personally, I find I’m very poor at explaining things in person, or having light chit-chat. Whereas in writing I’m able to develop ideas further. (But maybe that’s because in writing I’m just not aware when people have zoned out, whereas in conversation it’s more obvious).

Why Do You Write?

I’m interested to hear further thoughts on what propels us to write.

3 thoughts on “Why We Write

  1. Hi, Mike – Thank you for sharing the link to this video. It’s highly provocative! I agree that some people write out of loneliness, or because they do not feel heard any other way. I disagree that loneliness is the number one universal motivator for writing. I think that people write for a large number of reasons (e.g., passion, career, hobby, self-expression, record events, sort out feelings, explore fantasy situations, relieve stress, reach out to others who are also interested in this topic, etc. etc.). I look forward to reading what others think about this topic. It is a great subject for debate!

    1. Hi Donna! I knew you’d have some input on this.
      Admittedly, I think I took it a bit personally.
      I’m still thinking about it! Thanks for your insights on the topic.
      I think it’s true that we primarily publish our writings to reach a wider audience than those we associate with day-to-day. That could be because we’re unhappy, but that’s not the only motivator to want to reach a wider audience. You mentioned some other reasons. (You also mentioned some more personal benefit to writing, that could be achieved without necessarily publishing it)

      1. Hi, Mike – It’s true that several of the writing benefits that I mentioned are personal and could be achieved without publishing. For me, the publishing piece ups my game and helps to keep me more accountable. I began my blog partly to stay in touch with IRL friends once I moved home from being overseas. The online readers who I did not know IRL were a big surprise for me. I think that this is a fairly common motive, as is trying to record some of your personal history for future generations.

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