National Writing Project

Why I Write: A Collection from the NWP Writers Council

Date: November 4, 2016

Summary: We asked members of the NWP Writers Council to share what drives their passion for writing. You can read their thoughtful and entertaining responses in this collection of "Why I Write" essays.

 

Frank Murphy
Frank Murphy

I remember the first book I ever made—out of cardboard, tape, and cut-out pictures from the sports page of the Philadelphia Bulletin. I wrote and constructed my own little sports book about Boston Celtics great John Havilcek retiring. (Sacrilegious, I know, because I've always been a Philadelphia 76ers fan. But I just loved watching Havilcek play!) It was April 1978 and I was 11 years old. And, man, do I wish I still had that little book! More ›

Audrey Fielding
Audrey Fielding

My first published writings were the meeting minutes for my Brownie/Girl Scout Troop in a small town in Connecticut. I felt pretty special walking into the local press office every week to deliver the minutes that would be published in the newspaper the next day. I went on to be secretary of numerous organizations over the years because of the opportunity it afforded to write. More ›

Corey Edward Olds
Corey Edward Olds

Like Joan Didion, I write to "find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means."

Similar to George Orwell, I write because "there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention." Although my concern, as that of many writers, is to get a hearing, I primarily wish to set the record straight, at least as far as my place in history is concerned. More ›

Jennifer Bradbury
Jennifer Bradbury

I write to make sense of things. I write because I can't scratch that creative itch any other way. I write because I love the challenge of trying to make the idea in my head come alive on the page. I write because when I taught high school English, I wanted to show my students that writing was something that mattered to me enough to struggle with it, not just teach them about. More ›

Alan Brody
Alan Brody

I've just started writing a new play. I've been working on it for three months now and I look forward to finding out what it's about. That's the way it works for me. I'm struck by the magic "what if." More ›

Jen Bryant
Jen Bryant

Writing—for me, anyway—is 98% work. But it's GREAT work...and there's that 2% that I can't really explain, the particular magic that makes the rest of it more than the sum of the squiggles on the page. More ›

Lyn Ford
Lyn Ford

I write to preserve and disseminate my memories and adaptations of the narratives of my family's multicultural African American Appalachian, or Affrilachian, heritage of storytelling. More ›

Rita Gardner
Rita Gardner

For many of us, I think writing is just a necessary act. We all find some time in life when we MUST do something—and we do it. I think inspiration comes from a fire that burns within—and a moment arrives when it's no longer possible to tamp down the flame. More ›

Gabrielle Glancy
Gabrielle Glancy

And that I had been writing to my father, and for my father, all my life—that he was my imagined other, my one lost shadow, to whom I called across the fields of waving grasses, to be heard. More ›

Tim Green
Tim Green

To me, the thrill of creating stories that can change the quality of a person's life is as breathtaking a notion as sacking an NFL quarterback. So, just as I worked hard in the weight room and on the practice field to get to the NFL, I read and studied and wrote just as hard to become a best-selling author. More ›

Heather Mackey
Heather Mackey

When I write I try to remember that all I'm doing is giving a present. That thought helps me when I get waylaid by self-doubt or start comparing myself to other writers. Of course, I work hard at my craft and I try constantly to improve, to challenge myself, and to learn from other writers. More ›

Kekla Magoon
Kekla Magoon

When I speak to groups of young readers, I tell them simply: There are two reasons why I write. First, I write to express myself and to share the things I know a lot about. Second, I write to learn and explore things I know very little about. More ›

Shirley McPhillips
Shirley McPhillips

I write poems because I have read poems. Still do. The voices of poets down through the ages, leaving indelible trails, demanding that we hear, think, imagine, connect. More ›

Robin Newman
Robin Newman

During one Christmas holiday, I noticed my niece yawning while she was opening her presents. It was an eye opening moment. She was bored. That's when I decided to give my nieces and nephews more meaningful gifts. I wrote them stories. More ›

Charles Yu
Charles Yu

I'm alone in a room. The door is locked—wait, no—the door isn't locked. There is no door. Not anymore. It's gone. I'm staring at a wall. I write to find out what's on the other side of that wall. More ›

Kelvin Yu
Kelvin Yu

At that time, the choice to write was born of a hunger for material. I was like a slimy primordial fish crawling out of the sea in a desperate search for food. More ›

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