Posted by: steveonfilm | August 6, 2008

Why Do You Write?

I’m working from home today. I work from home every Wednesday. It’s one of the perks I have with my regular 9 to 5. The cool thing about working from home is that during your downtime your at your house, instead of in a cube. So you’ve got internet, radio, pets, food, the mail…you know, stuff.

But one thing you don’t have, or at least have less of, is stress. It’s relaxing to be at home. I’m at my computer desk. NPR on the radio. Nice big cup of coffee. Pet bird chirping away. Dog barking at neighbors downstairs. It’s nice. So relaxing in fact that when my mind wanders I actually think about interesting things.

I’m not sure what it was, maybe something on NPR, but suddenly I was thinking about why I write. I mean, really thinking about it. Like seriously contemplating what the point is. Sure, the ultimate goal is to become a professional screenwriter. But lets be serious here, I know thats a long shot and not likely. I have to imagine most other people who write understand that as well.

So why do I, and more importantly we, write, and more importantly continue to write? For me, it’s a form of escape. I love to think about stories. I love hearing a song on the radio or internet and imagining what sort of soundtrack it could provide to a scene. I love hearing or reading about someone and then imagining the type of life they live, the type of story they could tell.

In an essence, I need to write to get these things out. I need to move these stories out of my head and down somewhere. Some people do creative writing. Some people do comics. I do screenplays. Or at least that’s how I see it.

I mean, sure, I could do something else, we all could. But for whatever reason we choose to write screenplays. That is our medium.

I’m interested to hear why other people out there write. I know this site doesn’t get a lot of traffic, but I’m getting around 20-30 hits a day now. So, if you see this post, and you’re a writer, drop a line in the comments section about why you write.



  1. Hi Steve, nice post.

    I’m a film student with the ultimate goal to be a screenwriter (throw directing in there as well and that’s my perfect life). It’s an incredibly tough industry, I’ve done a couple of BFI (British Film Institute, don’t know where your based?) funded courses, won a decent competition and now I’ve gotten in to a decent film school – but I know in an industry like this those things don’t really amount to that much. Trying to break such a tough industry (as you know) has certainly lead me to question why I bother.

    But at the end of the day I can’t really answer the question. When I was getting interviews for film schools they would always ask banal questions like “Why do you want to direct/write?”, “Why are you interested in film?” – how are you supposed to answer a question like that? I want to do it because I want to do it, because it’s my passion, I can’t dream of doing anything else etc etc

    I’ve been writing since I could hold a pencil – when I was about 10 I wrote a 60 page fantasy story, I never finished it and I’d say I was only a quater of way through the actual story. It was crap – I mean I was 10! Not much life experience to go on there, but a pretty grand acheivment for a 10 year old, and despite it being cliched fantasy schlock, it was full of imagination. That’s what writing is all about for me, getting my imagination, the characters and worlds in my head down on to page. At the end of the day I enjoy writing more than anything else, that’s why I do it! I didn’t write that 60 page story with any goal for it to be published when I was 10, I just wrote it because I enjoy it!

    Anyway, just stumbled on your blog and it’s a great read. Keep it up.

  2. I recently had a conversation with a writer friend of mine about this same subject. He was upset because a very good friend of his didn’t seem interested in reading his manuscript for his latest work. He was doubting his writing ability.

    I told him not to be upset. That the thing’s that he was saying may not be his friends “bag.” “After all”, I told him, “you don’t often seeing people who read Guns n Ammo, reading Lady’s Home Journal.

    This led us to your question. Why do we write? A couple possibilities:
    We write because we have to. We have something to get out. If It doesnt publish, that’s o.k.
    We write because we love the art. We love making beautiful or thought provoking things. We really hope it publishes, but we know that it may not because of current market trends.
    We write because we want to publish. We write what the market wants, weather its about zombies or space marines. We write it not because it’s what we love but because it’s what’s selling right now.

    Before taking on a project as big as a novel or screen play, I think that it’s only fair to ask ourselves “Why am I writing this?” If you’re writing about transgendered existentialist I.T. professionals struggling with racist theorems and Marxist philosophy, then you shouldn’t quite your day job.

  3. Thanks for stopping by guys!

    bmoviehero, hang in there and keep working at it. I’d love to read any scripts you’ve written. I always enjoy checking out other writer’s work.

    Adam, keep fighting the good fight. I’ve got a few friends who work in DC too.

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