There are a hundred reasons not to write. (Writers are very good at finding these reasons… you could even say we wrote the book on not writing! Ha, ha ha, okay I’ll leave now.) But for every reason not to do something, there are dozens more reasons why you should. As per the title, I’m only going to list 5, but hear me now: it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Top 5’s are always the tip of the iceberg. (*whispers* And totally arbitrary at that.)
If you don’t already write (which, if you do, consider this some motivation to keep writing!), and if you don’t fall into the category of, “I hate writing, I’d never wanna do it for fun,” (though I doubt you’d be reading this right now if that were the case…) then you probably fall into the category of, “I want to start writing, but…”
- I don’t know how
- I’m not good at it
- I always get stuck
- I can’t get my ideas down on paper
And so on. Well, if it’s something you want to do, then why not do it? (In the immortal words of Shia Lebeouf: “Just do it!”) You gotta start somewhere. And lemme tell you, I get it–I’m the kind of person who won’t wanna pick up/continue a new hobby because I’m not very good at it. (Exhibit A: my poor, neglected ukulele.) Welp, time to preach what I don’t practice and then go rethink my life!
1. it’s not as hard as you think
Okay, I won’t lie: it can be hard. The endurance is hard. Finishing a project, like a novel, is hard. Revision can be hard. But you don’t have to start with the novel project. As a wise author by the name of Edward Meyer once told an ambitious 12-year-old me when I emailed him for writing advice:
[Novels are] like running a marathon. That’s great to do if that’s your goal–but keep in mind that even marathon runners train by running much shorter races.
(Holy crap, I can’t believe I found those old emails… maybe I can get his permission to post the full thing or, better yet, ask him for an interview! *gets starry-eyed*)
So the takeaway here is, start small! If you don’t know where to start, find a prompt (there are hundreds of thousands online, I guarantee you). Do a free writing exercise, or start journaling your thoughts. Don’t worry about it being good. No one’s writing is good; it becomes good through practice, patience, and revision!
2. the 21st century makes grammar more bearable
If your concern is your iffy grammar and spelling, then I guarantee you, you’re not alone. Even the best writers have their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to the technical stuff–that’s what editors are for. If you’d like like real, human feedback, you can always find your friendly neighborhood English major and ask them for a favor. You can probably pay them in Qdoba or something. (*ahem* Might’ve been there before…)
Of course, there are also more technological options. I know everyone’s acquainted with spellcheck, but if you’re working online, there are extensions that can help you out, too. Here’s two off the top of my head:
- Grammarly — You’ve probably heard of this free Chrome plug-in, and it really is great for checking grammar and spelling on basically any online platform you’re writing from.
- Don’t Hit Publish! — This one is… more of a site than an extension, I guess, because you run your content through it instead of the other way around. It’s great for blog posts (oh look!) and emails. It’s also free to sign up, you just have to make an account.
3. it gives you an excuse to go to coffee shops
Maybe this isn’t such a good thing if you’re trying to cut back on your latte intake, but you don’t necessarily have to buy anything (though, ha ha, come on, let’s be honest). Most coffee shops are just a nice place to chill and to think, and I don’t care if it’s cliche, it’s a good place to write, dammit. You can look around at all the college kids and business-y people and ride the coattails of their productivity. I’m just saying, it’s easier to write if you’re in a place where other people are quietly working. Also, you can people watch, which is always good fodder for creative writing.
4. you don’t have to be original
Allow me to clarify: if your issue is that you don’t feel like you have any ideas or that you’re not “writerly” enough (whatever the hell that means), let me just set the record straight: none of us have any ideas–original, God-breathed ideas, that is. Every now and then you get hit with a chestnut and you’re like, “Where the hell did that come from?” but I guarantee you, it came from somewhere. It’s not about being original, it’s about being creative–taking things that interest you, inspire you, that you enjoy reading or watching and putting a new spin on them, rearranging their components, infusing them with your voice and experience.
Now, there’s a fine line between doing this and recycling cliches or copying someone else’s story, but I plan on unpacking that in a future post. No need to make it overly complicated: just know that it’s okay to draw inspiration from other sources. It’s really, really hard not to.
The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. –Ecclesiastes 1:9
5. it’s so frick’n fun
Alright, this one’s biased: I love to write. I always have. Not everyone is wired like me, not even creative types–some people love to draw, to paint, to dance, to solve problems, to build, to destroy! If you don’t love to write, but you at least like to write, then that’s a good enough place to start. Now find what you enjoy writing about–a topic, a genre, a setting, a theme–and work from there. If writing should be one thing, it should be fun. Is it always easy? No. But not everything that’s fun has to be easy. However, if it’s never fun, then it’s never going to be easy. So if you’re not having fun writing, then figure out why–and find what works for your brain!
Why do you write? Why DON’T you write? Are these reasons enough to make you want to? Share it in the comments!