What do you want out of your writing?

What do I want out of my writing, or why do I write?

The other evening at my local writers’ group meeting, in honour of the new year and the evaluating, assessing and planning that usually goes with it, we each did a free write based on the above questions.

My answers weren’t anything incredibly deep (or that surprising to myself), but they were encouraging. It’s easy to get entangled in the outer elements of writing—word counts, markets, publishing “successes,” reader responses, etc—but the really important aspects of writing (for me, at least) are the immeasurable, non-trackable, non-recordable inner ones.

Here’s what I came up with—but wait, before you read mine, why don’t you take ten minutes and answer the questions as fast as you can, writing whatever comes to mind—then come back and read mine and if you want, share what you came up with. I’d love to read about why you write.

* * *

What do I want out of my writing, or why do I write?

Hmmm, they’re good questions, actually—ones that I ask myself semi-regularly in order to refocus my efforts, to motivate and re-inspire, and sometimes (especially if I’ve received a particularly disappointing rejection letter) to console myself.

I want many things from my writing. I write for many reasons!

In no particular order of importance—or rather, in order of importance that changes from day to day with whatever’s going on in my life—here are the main fuels for my for my muse:

Writing is pure fun! No matter what the genre, how picky and unfamiliar, thus arduous, the non-fiction topic, or how dreadfully thick a bog I may have hit in a plot, I just really love working with words and playing with stories.

Writing is a great comfort to me. Everyone has hard things they go through and while, yes, I suppose I’m saying I use writing as an escape at times, I also mean that seeing stories come out of me, out of my experiences, and out of the questions I have asked when confronted by my pain or the deep pain of others gives me comfort and a feeling of connection. We all have stories; it’s the one thing that all humans have in common.

Writing is a great way to think through what I believe, what I love, what I despise—and what, if anything, I can (or should!) do with those realizations.

Writing is cathartic. In terms of mental health, you can get a less expensive or more holistic form of therapy!

Writing helps me celebrate and remember beauty, love and all that’s good in the world. My non-fiction words (and who knows, maybe my fictional ones too) create a record of who I am and who I’ve been—and perhaps foreshadow who I will become.

Though I hope to one day make my living fully from my fiction writing (so I can have that much more time to write more!), writing is not (and has never been) about the money for me.

Going into a new year, the exercise was a lovely reminder: come whatever may, I am doing what I love to do. I hope reading this post—or even better, writing your own response—has been affirming for you.

Happy New Year and happy writing! May your words flow like they never have before.

Cheers,
Ev

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About Ev Bishop

Ev Bishop is a writer, editor and workshop facilitator, living in beautiful Terrace, British Columbia. Her works appear in a variety of publications and she writes in many formats and genres. She loves Barbara Kingsolver's belief that "There is no perfect time to write.... There is only now," and has modified it to be her own motto: Write here. Write now. View all posts by Ev Bishop

8 responses to “What do you want out of your writing?

  • Jen Brubacher

    What do I want out of my writing? Not much, mostly–I give and give and give and expect little in return. ;) But that’s okay. I guess that’s what I *expect.* But what I *want,* well, I want it to be good. I want it to be something I can share, and something people will give me feedback about, and overall positive feedback, or at least honest, interested feedback that shows me I’ve affected them. What I want from my writing is some honesty from my creative self, and some indication that practice helps, that my skills continue to develop, and the stories running around in my brain can survive in the real world. At least in text.

    So I guess for all that, I need to give and give and give. Heh!

    I’m not going to answer, “Why do I write” because I’ve done that one before.

    Now I’ve read yours, and I see I’ve answered a completely different question! Well I like your answer. And it has been a fun exercise. Thank you!

  • Rebecca Emin

    What a fabulous blog post. Again!

    Why do I write?
    1. Because it makes me happy.
    2. It gives me a purpose that will stay with me when the reasons for my existence grow up and leave me with empty nest syndrome.
    3. The voices that jibber jabber away in my head can only be silenced when I write them out.
    4. It’s much more fun than housework. So, although it’s mostly not about the money for me, I’d be delighted to make enough money to be able to afford a cleaning lady.
    5. Certain people seem to like my stories, and tell me to carry on writing. So I do.

  • Laura Best

    I write because I like words, and not just words but written words. It gives me freedom to express myself in ways that I would never be able to verbally. I can dream and pretend and no one thinks it is frivolous or unnecessary. Good question, Ev.

  • Ev Bishop

    Dear Rebecca:

    I love all the reasons you write, especially re: the voices that “jibber jabber away” in your head. :D I also hear you on preparing for how you’ll deal with empty nest–though I have to deal with it sooner than you. :( My daughter’s graduating and moving out this summer and my “baby” is almost 15.

    Have a great writing week!

  • Ev Bishop

    Jen:

    Your answers are totally to the same question I responded to–just a different interpretation of it! I want the things you mentioned too–and sometimes they’re more at the forefront of my brain than the ones I wrote, but that’s how my “why I write” answers go, I find, always changing and growing and sometimes hard to articulate. ;)

  • Ev Bishop

    Laura: There is something amazing about words written down. I think it’s why I like fonts, love pens, have always enjoyed looking a books written in languages I can’t read. Even before I could read, I would study books’ pages, certain that all of life’s secrets were written there in code–and hey, I was kinda right!

    And re: “I can dream and pretend and no one thinks it is frivolous or unnecessary,”–yes, I totally relate to that! :)

    Happy dreaming and pretending this month!

  • jenniferneri

    Why do I write? Because there is too much in the world for me to contain within myself. Because I’ll witness something and emotions need to be brought forth. Because language is beautiful. Because life is beautiful and fleeting and needs to trapped. Because I love loosing myself in the fantasy that is created through me. lol. There that was my free write on my answer. Now I’ll go back and read the post!!

    Love your answers,Ev! Actually all of them are great answers!

  • Ev Bishop

    Dear Jennifer,

    I loved your answers too! :) Life is beautiful and fleeting and I too have that terrific need to try to put moments into words, capturing them so they’re not lost . . .

    And re: “Actually all of them are great answers!”

    Yes, and during my writers’ group, it was the same. It’s really cool to see how many similarities exist between various writers, yet all the unique and individual subtleties.

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