Before beginning to explore fantasy as a genre, let’s begin with a basic question about writing in general. Why do writers write? What is it that drives other people like you and me to go beyond reading into the realm of writing? After all, writing is difficult work, and it requires many long, grueling hours of work to produce something worth reading.
I can’t tell you why other writers write because the reasons for writing are many and varied. But, I can tell you why I write. Maybe some of you write for the same reasons. Or perhaps you can’t relate to any of these reasons. Whatever the reasons writers have for writing, we all have something in common. Those reasons drive us to make room for writing whether it’s as a full-time job or as a hobby on the side.
So, why do I write?
Simply put, I need to. At first glance, this may seem a bit simple and a little strange. You might be asking yourself something like this: what do you mean you need to? Isn’t writing a choice? Or you may understand exactly what I mean when I say that I need to write. To those of you questioning my statement, yes, writing is a choice. In my case, that choice is driven by the reasons I write in the first place, and these reasons provide the fuel to keep writing even on days when that choice is more difficult to make.
Why, then, do I need to write? First off, I need to write because the stories swirling around in my head demand to be told. Characters clamor to make their voices heard, and the histories of the worlds whirling about in my mind seem to plead with me to share them with others. Due to this, though I may set writing aside for a time to focus on the more immediate demands of life, the stories and people in my head are always just under the surface. They sit there, stewing until I’m ready to return to tell another tale even though I know that I can’t do justice to the thoughts trailing about in my brain. This is what results in my being up until twelve a.m. working on the latest novel or idea I’ve had.
Second, I need to write because it gives an outlet for thoughts, opinions, and emotions I’d not otherwise express. Perhaps some of you can relate to this. Writing is a wonderful means to explore the things that make you and other people human and to face truths about yourself and the world around you that you might not otherwise face. I often find that while I’m writing, something a character says or an event in the world brings light to a part of the real world or my own life.
Third, I need to write because there are truths that need to be shared, and writing allows that sharing to occur. Sometimes, there are truths that are hard to swallow. Most of us can remember a time when someone, well-meaning or otherwise, shared a truth with us that we didn’t want to hear. This can be a painful and frustrating occurrence, though it often is one we need in order to grow. Writing can make that blow softer by teaching us those truths in a gentler way. It opens the door to help us understand the realities of our world and of humanity where we might not otherwise have listened.
These are just a few of many reasons I have for writing, and I’m sure they only begin to cover the reasons why others write. Still, for me, these are the most important reasons I personally have for writing. These are the reasons that drive me back to my keyboard or that pen and blank sheet of paper to tell another story or share another world.
Now that I’ve shared why I write, please feel free to share reasons why you write. No reason is too small to share, but the reasons you write can be the most helpful sign post you have when you’re lost and unsure why you’re bothering to continue writing. If you’re a reader and don’t write, have you heard authors or writers you know share reasons why they write? As long as the person who shared them wouldn’t mind, feel free to share those as well.