Why Do Writers Write?

One famous writer, whose name I no longer remember, once asked to have written on his tombstone, the simple legend, “He wrote only to be read.”

After a recent talk I gave on writing, some people waited behind to speak with me. One of them jokingly remarked, “What do you do with all the money you’re earning?” That is a question I have been asked more than once. There are some writers, I know, who write with the hope of making money — a vain enterprise — but the great majority of writers are concerned more about finding readers. One famous writer, whose name I no longer remember, once asked to have written on his tombstone, the simple legend, “He wrote only to be read.” Money was for him neither an issue nor an objective.

Reflecting further on this, I have come to the realisation that recognition, or fame perhaps, is little more a motivating factor to the truly committed writer than is money. So what drives the urge? I believe that the answer is twofold. There is simply the creative spirit that desires to bring into being something original, and there is the creative ego that yearns to share that creation. Most writers would confess, if they’re honest, to a secret wish to stand at the shoulders of everyone reading their work, to watch their every facial expression, to decipher their every reaction, and hopefully, to win appreciation, even praise, for their brainchild. So, while writing may appear initially to be a fire in the belly that must need find expression, ultimately it cannot be an end in itself. The creative ego is a hungry beast.

Guest post by Author Brian O’Hare

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