Why You Write


Sometimes you sit at your desk and you do not see your story. You saw it yesterday, but you cannot see it today. The characters that spoke to you yesterday seem no more real today, are no more capable of walking and talking than paper dolls. You feel alone. As a writer you crave solitude, but not isolation. You think: This is not why I write.

Maybe you just start writing anyway. The words alone on the page might be a kind of company. Sometimes this works. When it does, it’s like you went to the mall to buy shoelaces because you had absolutely nothing better to do, and there by pure happy coincidence you met your best friend and had a two-hour conversation over coffee. It’s lovely, but your best friend won’t be there every time you go to buy shoelaces.

You know this because sometimes you just start writing and the words are no kind of company at all. They are not company because they are not alive; they are objects made of letters with no purpose. Your loneliness, your desperation and isolation and fear could not give them life. You try to make sense of this loneliness, but it makes no sense. What was alive yesterday should be alive today. And you think: I didn’t come to the page for chaos and loneliness. This is not why I write.

But it is. You write for connection, for the magic of falling into the full alive dream of a story, but also you come to the page for this very emptiness. You come to the page to understand it. You have known that emptiness all your life, have met it from time to time for as long as you can remember. You can’t run from it, can’t hide from it in books and TV and chores. You might say the emptiness found you, but you were always the one that found it.

And there it is: the blank page. There is the emptiness you need and fear. It’s great when you show up and it’s like the story is already being told in you, but to show up and find the story on that blank page is to find the source of your deepest confidence. You were never alone. Your friend was always your friend whether she was at the mall, in her home, or in your heart. You just have to remember to look in the right place.

If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual coaching and group workshops.