Write every day has been my mantra for more than a decade now. At book events, I’ve often been asked why I write, and today that question is being asked by the Insecure Writers Support Group.
I’m late for this post, because 2020. That’s my excuse for everything these days, and I’m sticking to it. Life seems to call for extra effort these dyas, including writing.
Write what you know, they say, and enjoy what you write. I can’t say I always enjoy writing, or even what I write. I’m happier having written. As to why I write, I find that the answers have changed over the years. I began because I was jobless–sad, but true. I was told that in a globalised world, I could make money off my writing. I tried that for a while. Articles and content writing did bring home the bacon, but about twelve years ago, right around the time I started this blog, I also started writing stories. Terribly written, almost-nonsense kind of stuff.
I joined a writing class, picked up tips, as you do, bought a few creative writing books, and was hooked. I was first published in Singapore in 2009, with this piece, and I’ve never looked back since.
I’ve mostly been writing because I couldn’t help it. On some days I wanted to write because I wanted to be better at it. On others, because of habit. Now, with about 50 short pieces and a novel published, dozens of short stories in progress, and two completed novel manuscripts besides, I write because that’s who I am. I don’t know what else to do with myself.
In 2020, which has been my year of wuwei, or effortless action, the pace has slowed because of covid lockdowns, no travel since February, and limited social interactions. I’ve let go a bit, trying to write, edit and submit, but at an easier pace. This is also the year when writing has been a bigger refuge than reading. Perhaps it is my brain that senses the pandemic and keeps my body on survival mode, or my inability to focus on any worlds created by others. I’ve read fewer books this year, but I’ve written a little more: done a complete rewrite of my current WIP, and a bunch of flash pieces. I’ve also been writing a few columns, like this one: The Price of Self-censorship.
More than ever, I find that I’m using my fiction to express my angst, because I don’t feel safe talking about it on this blog, or social media, or even my columns. On some days the rage I feel with the world is incandescent, on other days the helpless frustration gets really dark, and I need to muzzle myself in order to preserve my relationships. Our world is becoming increasingly polarised, and no matter what emphasis I place on compassion, once in a while, channeling my rage into characters is the only way to dissipate it.
What about you? Why do you write? Why do you think writing is an important activity in today’s world?
This post was written for IWSG: Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for organizing and hosting the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) every month!
Go to the site to see the other participants. In this group we writers share tips, self-doubt, insecurities, and of course, discuss the act of writing. If you’re a writer and a blogger, go join rightaway! The awesome co-hosts areJemi Fraser,Kim Lajevardi,L.G Keltner,Tyrean Martinson, and Rachna Chhabria!Pls go and give their blogs some love.
My debut literary crime novel,”You Beneath Your Skin,” published by the fab team at Simon and Schuster IN is optioned to be a TV series by Endemol Shine. It has now also been longlisted for the Tata Lives Fiction First Book Award.
It is available in India here.
Reviews are appreciated–please get in touch if you’d like a review copy.
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Thank you for sharing!… writing enables me to communicate and share thoughts with others, letting my fingers do the walking and my heart doing the talking!!.. 🙂
Hope all is well, life is all that you wish for it to be and each and every day is filled with love and happiness…. 🙂
Until we meet again..
May the sun shine all day long
Everything go right, nothing go wrong
May those you love bring love back to you
And may all the wishes you wish come true
I write as a form of self expression,i write because i love the form of story.Mainly I write for my younger self as a way for me to reflect and release.
Congratulations on your tv series option! I hope I am able to watch it some day. Your book is terrific. I am also saddened at our polarized world. I thought it was mostly here in the USA, but reading your post reminds me that the entire world is suffering. Here’s to a better 2021. Keep writing and connecting!
Thank you Mary! Fingers crossed.
HI Damyanti – I never thought I could write … but once I got going on the blog … I was so pleased to be amongst such a great posse of other bloggers … I just slotted in and kept going with the blog. I love the support and the learning I get from friends by being here blogging away … and I get to read heart-rending stories from some bloggers – so brilliantly written – take care – Hilary
The blogging world has been a blessing indeed.
These days, I am writing much more regularly than I was earlier. I am smitten with personal essays and flash fiction, so I write to get better at it. I also write to vent out my frustration at life which has been very difficult, but also a lot helpful (I better give it the credit for having our backs all throughout this period).
And, I write because decades ago, I dreamed of becoming a writer, too, apart from a teacher and a vet. I couldn’t become a vet. I worked as a teacher for some years. And, now I am trying to fulfil my third dream. 🙂
Here’s to going after dreams Shilpa!
I love the phrase “I enjoy having written.” It does feel good to have words on a page.
And yes, sometimes writing is a good place.to.deal with the stress.
Sometimes writing does help untangle the thoughts we have too.
it is sometimes hard for me to start writing, but once I start the words flow effortlessly, my adrenalin surges, and I feel good.
Congratulations on your book
Oh I know that feeling! Thank you.
Channelling big emotions into writing helps me as well. I do tend to only work on/edit/publish the works that focus on hope but the others are there. Keep writing and sharing your powerful words!
Thanks you Jemi!
I’m haunted by the people who’s stories I try to tell.
I want to write as you do — every day — but for now I have to be content with the bits of time I can find around work and all the rest. Still, it doesn’t matter how long it takes, cause it’s the climb, right, Damyanti?
It is the journey!
When I first met you I thought you were a hugely experienced author. It surprised me when You Beneath Your Skin came out as a first novel, but it didnt surprise me that it has been so successful. I think you have honed your craft well.
And you’re right about letting things out through your characters. Wise words, as always 🙂
Thank you for the kind words!
You are one of the people who inspire me and this has happened in a short time. I don’t know if I’ll be able to write like you or have that sort of commitment but I do know that looking at you I don’t want to give up.
Having said that, my reasons for writing have been varied. Now it’s become such a predominant part of my existence that I even consider giving up my regular job. But I don’t know if that’s best. But I’ll leave that for now.
I don’t like discussions. Over time I’ve realised they lead to nothing but being more assertive about what one believes in. There’s no room for listening in discussions. Or so I feel. Hence I agree with that last bit. I use my writing to talk about the things I normally don’t feel comfortable talking about because they drain me.
Sometime the difficult subjects are best dealt through writing.
And what a wonderful story, Damyanti! Such a powerful image, that toe!
I love to tell stories–it feels like a superpower to do it well–and I’m terrible at telling stories aloud. So, for that very simple reason, I think I became interested in writing them down. Also, unlike some art forms, story-telling gets better with age (I hope!).
Stories have the power to change the world – it is a superpower indeed.
I think, and this is from my own personal experience, that one’s desire to write stems from two related activities: listening and reading. As a child, I remember the absolute joy of being in the presence of my mother’s sisters, my aunts, at family gatherings. They talked and laughed and cried. They related story after story and they were good at it. The uncles on the other hand were a boring lot. Listening to stories became an unconditional joy in my life. I also loved listening to my teachers’ when they read to us. Sadly, it’s something that has all but disappeared in our schools. My fifth grade teacher read two novels to us. “The Secret Garden” and “Last of the Mohicans.” It wasn’t just the beautiful narratives, but also her lovely reading voice. She understood the importance of voice inflection. I was in heaven when she read to us. And finally when I started reading my own books, I think starting in the sixth grade, we kids were allowed to order books through a company called Scholastic Book Club or something like that. Having my own books that I could read in my room or outside in the shade of a large tree was magic. Hence, my desire to produce that magic: to write about something that pulled people out of their mundane world. To tell a story. Yes, I have a message, but most importantly I want to deliver that message via a well told story, introducing the reader to someone they will never forget.
Love for stories is one of the best gifts ever – whether through storytelling or through books!
I began writing in 2000 because I was inspired and became obsessed with that project. Now I find the act of writing harder, but as you say in this post, I’m happier having written. If I decided to stop writing, I would feel I was giving up. I need to rev up my enthusiasm for my next writing project.
Good Luck Audrey…!
I can totally relate to so much of what you said! I am writing more than reading too, because I can’t really relax my brain enough to read, really. And then I’m definitely slowing my pace of writing, revising, and submitting. I hope things begin to calm down a bit!
I think we could all do with a bit of calm right about now…
Very nice! Congratulations for success.
Your reasons for writing mirror my reason/need for reading in dark times. I envy and admire not only your talent but your diligence.
You’ve been writing a long time.
It is safer to vent on the pages than online.
Very much so!
Because I can?????????
Best reason ever!