The Missing Muse: Why We Write - The Sequel

The Missing Muse: Why We Write - The Sequel

With NaNoWriMo five days in, it’s worth taking a step back for a moment and think about what you are doing, especially if you’re participating in this amazing (oh wait, we should stop using that word now) challenge. Why you are aiming to write fifty thousand words in a single month. Why push yourself to write 1,666 words every day for thirty days (or 2,272 words over 22 days, if you need some days off).

Even outside of challenges like NaNoWriMo, what are the reasons that you write at all? Why take precious time out of your day - time that could be spent with your family, close friends, zoning out while watching your favorite TV show, or logging some hours in your favorite game?

I feel questions like this are worth exploring from time to time because for all the days we spend jotting down dozens, hundreds - even thousands - of words, there’s always that one day which demoralizes you. Making your efforts seem trivial or flat-out pointless. Making you ask yourself:

  • “What the heck am I even doing right now?”

  • “Why did I start this mess of words in front of me?”

  • “Why am I writing anyway?”

I bring up these particular questions (they take many different forms) because they were swirling in my mind last Friday, the one day that felt heavier than all the recent days I’ve spent writing the first fifteen thousand words of my second novel combined. Demoralizing days tend to do that.

I think when you are unpublished - and are aiming to make writing a proper career and intend on being published traditionally and have already received a fair amount of rejections - those sort of days are especially hard. But even for those that have their work in the wild - traditional or self-published - it’s inevitable that you question your actions.


“What the heck am I even doing right now?”

You’re creating something from nothing. Writing a work of fiction - or even non-fiction - requires taking something intangible and converting it to something that exists in our universe. Not just bringing it into existence, but giving it a form that can profoundly impact others. When reading, one can experience all the senses being triggered. We want to enable others to experience our dreams and nightmares. We want the hopes, fears, triumphs, and failures of our characters to be expressed through others.

When you write you are, in effect, playing god. A universe being born from your fingertips, one word at a time.

Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly — they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.
— Aldous Huxley

“Why did I start this mess of words in front of me?”

To challenge yourself. Writing a story - even a short one - is a monument to perseverance, dedication, and discipline. Like preparing for the Olympics or going into space, it’s not for the faint of heart. Seeing a story to its conclusion is easily one of the hardest projects an individual can assign themselves. To be frank: many people start writing, but few actually finish - and fewer still get published.

But you acknowledge all of that. You know the stakes. That’s why you’re here today, hunched over your desk, the smell of hot cocoa wafting at your nostrils, the cold from the floor kept at bay by knee-high socks collected around your ankles, the sounds of jazz playing from your computer while the rapping of your fingers makes even more pleasant music.

If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.
— Toni Morrison

“Why am I writing anyway?”

You have a story to share, and you refuse to stay silent. We all have a unique story as to what sparked the burning inside us that demanded it be written. It might take a few seconds - or like me, a few weeks before deciding to finally accept this one truth: You have a story that must be shared with the world.

However, it’s easy to chalk up the inspiration as just flights of fancy. It’s quite easy to come up with a list of excuses as to why you cannot follow through.

But if that flame is bright enough and strong enough, where your skin tingles and hairs stand on-end just by thinking about the plot for your story as it unfolds in your mind… does that want to stay silent?

Let the world know of the universe that you have in your beautiful mind. Don’t sit on your hands while you ask yourself "What if?”

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.
— Maya Angelou

You’re doing amazing (whoops) things just by writing. Every word. Every sentence. Every chapter. If you have an idea that refuses to be ignored, don’t let it yell and scream from the corner of your mind. Give it a voice. That voice is the written word.

I know you can do it. You know you can, too.

Make it happen.

More Inspiration:

The Missing Muse: Why We Write

Artwork Links:

Out of Memory

Out of Memory

Day in the Life: Watching a Child Experience Things

Day in the Life: Watching a Child Experience Things