Defiance Or Exorcism: Why Do You Write?

i know what i'm doing

I don’t think any of us even know what day it is anymore. I certainly don’t. JARVIS informed me sniffily that it was my turn to write a post, so I wrote one. If it’s the wrong day, then blame JARVIS, who gave me the reminder, or Pepper, who probably programmed the date in the calendar in the first place. I, however, am totally 100% blame-free and will remain that way until I choose to admit that I get things wrong which is, to be perfectly honest, never going to happen. Certainly not where my hair’s involved.

(You thought the hair jokes were gone. You thought they were never coming back. You were WRONG.)

I thought, for lack of advice to give about the writing process, I’d talk about some of the motivations you might have for writing. See, when I started, there were really only two options, as far as I could see. Either you were writing because you wanted to be famous, to make money, and see your books turned into a film franchise that spawned terrifying bobbleheads and other inane toys, or you were writing because you took pleasure in emotional and mental anguish and were going to be spending your life in an attic somewhere anyway, so it might as well involve writing novels.

I think there were probably other reasons, like wanting to be hailed as a literary genius or have your work analysed to death by schoolchildren or have teenagers write incredibly inappropriate fan fiction about the eight-hundred-year-old supernatural creatures in your novel. But the other two were the main ones.

Don’t ask which was mine. Just don’t even go there.

It turns out there are hundreds of reasons for choosing to take up writing, and all of them are just as valid as each other. Radical, I know, but hey, that’s how things are.


Personally I’d always combat that with building artificial intelligence to keep me company and make sassy comments as necessary, but I understand that not everyone is a genius or has access to tech like mine, so I guess writing’s a good substitute. I mean, characters are basically like AI, except infinitely less cool. It’s a way of dealing with having no friends.


This can be because you’ve genuinely nothing better to do or because you just moved to a new town, new school, and they’ve put you in classes you already took a couple of years back because you’re slightly more than averagely intelligent for a high schooler (nothing on me, though), and your brainpower’s gotta go somewhere, right? So you start writing. Or drinking immoderately and taking recreational drugs. People deal with things differently.


I knew a girl who started writing because everybody told her she didn’t have time to write novels, she’d never get it all done, she was too young to be a writer … etc. I mean, she loved stories already, but she wanted to prove them wrong about novels. And she did. Last time I looked she’d written an inordinately high number and way too many blog posts, so she’s probably pretty lonely as well. And bored. I hear there was even poetry involved, which is taking the ‘teen loner’ thing to a whole new level. Wow. We-ird.


There’s always one who contradicts everyone saying, “You don’t have to be the stereotypical ‘creative type’! Writing’s not about inspiration, it’s about perspiration!” Whatever. They have creativity coming out of their ears. They’re struck by ideas continuously and they’ll scrawl them anywhere: on exam papers, in fancy notebooks, on their arms, on your arms. They stare distantly into space, dress like they raided three different people’s closets, and hum if you get too close. The creative type. Be wary of them. If you are one of them, refer to the section on “exorcism”.


Some people do want to be a famous writer. And that’s actually okay. Writing is a business, and while the Romantic idea of a starving writer living in a garret and writing solely for their love of words might be appealing, just remember that most Romantic writers were actually aristocrats and the reason they were malnourished was because they had too much sex. Or maybe that was just Lord Byron. (Yes, that actually happened. Click the link if you don’t believe me.) Anyway, the point is, you’re allowed to want to be famous. You need to realise that it’s unlikely and you’re just a hack like the rest of us, but then keep shooting for the stars. If you want to make money and a living and hit the papers because of the books you wrote then man, get on and write the books. If your aspirations lie more in the direction of literary greatness, awards, and incomprehensible (but very beautiful) prose, then go for it. I guess. Though if you can write lit fic involving superheroes, I’d be far more interested in all that introspective navel-gazing.


I don’t mean actual literal demon-exorcism. I mean that bad stuff happens to everyone, and sooner or later you’ll realise it’s haunting you, hanging over you like a personal raincloud. Writing can be a great way of forcing the cloud to burst: you might be temporarily drenched, but then the sun can come out. But writing isn’t a substitute for therapy. So if you need help, get help. (Counsellors often recommend keeping a journal, but keeping a journal =/= counselling.)

As you can see, people start writing for all sorts of reasons. No one is more valuable than any other, and anybody who tells you that your reasons are no good is probably a terrible person and you should maybe actually exorcise them. Or don’t. Whatever you do, don’t say I told you to do it, because Pepper will kill me.

Do you think I’ve missed anything off this list? Did you start writing for another reason? Let me know in the comments, because nobody ever talks to me, and soon I’ll be the lonely one.

-- Iron Man


PS: in case you missed my not-so-subtle self promo up there, my alter ego just released a poetry collection, because she’s actually the female teetotal virgin reincarnation of Lord Byron (they share a birthday and a love of melodrama and poetry, but on reflection, not a lot else). She’d be really thrilled if you could check it out.


  1. I suppose I write mainly for the creativity, but when I really stop to think about it, I write simply because I love it. :) It's my passion. I eat, sleep, and breathe it. It's almost like a coffee addiction: I can't function unless I've written something that day. That's how "bad" it is. I can't live without it!

    1. I'm the same, actually. That's why hurting my hands last year had such a huge impact on my psychological state -- I couldn't deal with emotions at all because I wasn't writing. So I won't be doing that again.