One Hundred Reasons Why I Write

100 reasons writing graphic

When I was a young boy, I remember going grocery shopping with my mother, and if she lost track of me in the store, she’d inevitably find me in the aisle that carried pens and notebooks. I had a strange fascination — perhaps even a fetish — for stationery, pens, and journals. When I visited my father’s office, I’d sneak away with a treasure trove of pads of papers and pens. I asked for a leather-bound diary with a lock on it for my 7th birthday. Soon afterward, my mother gave me an antique rolltop desk designed for a child, and I was in heaven. I felt like a real writer, and I wrote my first story at that desk.

This is all to say that when I think about the myriad of things that made me a writer and made writing such an urgent act, I sometimes think it was pre-determined. I felt the calling to write from as early as I can remember. I took a few steps in different directions here and there over the years, but I knew that no matter my profession, writing would always be a strong gravitational force in my life.

But that primal calling doesn’t tell me “the why” of it all. Why spend so many hours — why spend the better part of an entire lifetime — in this activity that doesn’t generally offer much societal approbation, and certainly not much money?

I once told a friend that there were at least 100 good reasons why I wrote. But after I said that, I wondered if I was exaggerating. It turns out I wasn’t. Here’s why I write.

  1. I write to see the beginning and the end of it all.
  2. I write to find myself.
  3. I write to lose myself.
  4. I write to tame reality.
  5. I write to augment reality.
  6. I write to discover how to survive.
  7. I write to think about how to die.
  8. I write to shape my ideas with words.
  9. I write to see the world through others’ eyes.
  10. I write to exult the possible.
  11. I write to probe the chaos in myself.
  12. I write to better define the clarity of myself.
  13. I write to touch a dragon’s scales.
  14. I write to live in a wizard’s magic.
  15. I write to make the world bigger.
  16. I write to make the world smaller.
  17. I write to demystify people’s differences.
  18. I write to see with fresh eyes.
  19. I write to reorder and recombine the world.
  20. I write to listen to the heartbeat of the monstrous.
  21. I write to break open the locked chambers of myself.
  22. I write to enliven feelings that have become numb.
  23. I write to hear a tree’s whispers.
  24. I write to make the obvious strange (and the strange obvious)
  25. I write to trace the contours of nuances.
  26. I write to push the boundaries of myself.
  27. I write because I don’t know what else to do.
  28. I write to be a part of the world.
  29. I write to invent myself.
  30. I write to preserve myself.
  31. I write to change the world.
  32. I write to explore my darkness.
  33. I write to inhabit my lightness.
  34. I write to hold onto ephemeral moments.
  35. I write to quarrel with myself.
  36. I write to travel to other lands.
  37. I write to encounter the unknown.
  38. I write to live in the past and the future.
  39. I write to eavesdrop on others’ conversations.
  40. I write to peek through the keyholes of forbidden rooms.
  41. I write to find an antidote to my malaise.
  42. I write to nourish my spirit.
  43. I write to test my values.
  44. I write to read the world.
  45. I write because with each word, new expanses open.
  46. I write so that my life will not end when I die.
  47. I write to not die of the truth.
  48. I write to maintain my equilibrium.
  49. I write to be seduced by all of the strange and wonderful possibilities of language.
  50. I write to be vulnerable.
  51. I write to share.
  52. I write to find beauty in the gritty aspects of life and grittiness in the beautiful.
  53. I write to entertain myself.
  54. I write to converse with others.
  55. I write to hide from others.
  56. I write because there are so many voices in my head.
  57. I write to give.
  58. I write because I only have one life, and I want so many more.
  59. I write to get revenge (sorry).
  60. I write to find out why.
  61. I write to resist anything that threatens me.
  62. I write to pursue the things I can never quite know.
  63. I write to know the boundaries of my fears.
  64. I write to not be lonely.
  65. I write to feel solace.
  66. I write to to fortify my resilience.
  67. I write to mend.
  68. I write to feel whole.
  69. I write to know what makes bad people good and good people bad.
  70. I write to hear the music of life.
  71. I write to better enjoy my morning cup of coffee.
  72. I write to better enjoy my evening glass of wine.
  73. I write to develop a rapt eye–and then express the raptures I see.
  74. I write to appreciate others’ words and stories more.
  75. I write to experiment, to fail, and to try again.
  76. I write to pause.
  77. I write to notice.
  78. I write because words open a secret door through which all else flows.
  79. I write to talk to myself.
  80. I write to feel the immensity of it all.
  81. I write to pray.
  82. I write to rewrite.
  83. I write because there’s no way to get it right.
  84. I write so that I can buy fine journals and pens.
  85. I write to retort.
  86. I write to hear the silence.
  87. I write because I’m not satisfied with just living.
  88. I write to wend through the contortions of all of my doubts.
  89. I write to know all of the different homes where I have lived.
  90. I write to not feel misunderstood.
  91. I write to feel the awe of all of the scents, sights, sounds, touches, and tastes of the world.
  92. I write to be more intimate with myself.
  93. I write to hear what gods and devils talk about.
  94. I write to speak in tongues.
  95. I write to know the things that are hidden.
  96. I write to remember.
  97. I write because, as Gloria Steinem said, “Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.”
  98. I write because I don’t know how not to write.
  99. I write to find hope in suffering.
  100. I write to light candles in the darkness. I write to keep going, so I’ll add just one more.
  101. I write to love.

I just sent my friend these 100 reasons and told her I think I can come up with 100 more.

. . .

Grant Faulkner is the executive director of National Novel Writing Month and the co-founder of 100 Word Story. His book Pep Talks for Writers: 52 Insights and Actions to Boost Your Creative Mojo was recently released.


Oct 12, 2017