notes from niequist: why we write

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…i write because other writers’ words changed my life a million and one ways, and i want to be a part of that.

i began writing because there were things i  wanted to say with so much urgency and soul i would have climbed a tower and shouted them down, would have written them in skywriting, would have spelled them out in grains of rice of i had to.

sometimes i pretend that my take on all this is very cut & dried. what? I’m a writer. he’s a plumber, she’s a teacher, i’m a writer. everybody has a job.

that’s what i say, though, as a way of distancing myself from the very uncomfortable side of it: sharing your work is scary, and while it gets easier over time, every time you do it, it’s an invitation to grapple with your own worthiness.

because if you’re not careful, you’ll hang your entire self-worth on getting published or getting a certain amount of page views.

and let me be clear: we know this is dangerous because we might feel like failures if we don’t get the publishing contract or the page views. but it’s equally dangerous if you do get them. 

because little by little it’s easy to start needing them—need the comments, need the reader emails, need the amazon rating, need the positive reviews, need the twitter mentions or the facebook likes.

but that’s not why you got into this, is it? it’s not why i did.

you will not do your best work if you develop an appetite or addiction to affection, to fans, to approval.

remember, at every point, why you started writing in the first place.

remember how desperately, right in this very moment, you want to tell this story.

you get into it because you have a story to tell, because you sense, in some wordless, wild way that you don’t know why and you didn’t earn it or ask for it, but for some reason, there are things you can find words for that might maybe matter to someone else, that might set someone free, that will make them feel one tiny bit less alone, like they’ve made a friend, like they’re not crazy, like they’re not wrong just for being who they are.

you write because you think it might matter someday, to someone, the way other people’s words mattered to you when you read them in your dorm room or under your covers late at night or on a train all alone.

at least i do.

“why we write” | shauna niequist
(emphasis my own)



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