Now I am not really a writer, but I do write and I seem to write quite a lot… Whether it is emails to my customers, or writing for my clients for Social Media or even my own Social Media postings I probably write well in excess of 500 words every day.
A lot of that however is writing that doesn’t hang around for very long – it gets sent to an inbox or is seen on a Facebook page and is then promptly deleted or ignored.
I am not totally sure however that it is something I am particularly good and sometimes find myself plagued with self doubt as to whether anyone really wants to read or indeed ever reads what it is that I write…
And so last year I decided I wanted to write more formally and improve my writing skills so I took part in a challenge called 500 Words Every Day (on Lift, now coach.me)… Looking at my profile now I notice that my longest streak at the time of writing this is for writing at 51 days – there were longer streaks but these have since been archived as they are now second nature.
Sadly though I stopped writing my daily 500 words but knew it was something I wanted to do…
So here we are in 2015 and this post is Number 4 in a 31 day resolution to blog every day, inspired by a challenge called Write and Run 31, where you run and write for 31 days on the trot. There is also Janathon in a similar vein which I have also joined.
Supposedly I don’t actually have to publish a post every day but I have decided that I will and by committing to publishing a post every day it will hold me accountable – to you my reader. (Hi Mum!)
So here we are at day 4 of my 31 days of writing and I have decided to take the advice of those who know more about writing and blogging than I and write a list post…
Supposedly list posts are ones that people particularly like to read and indeed they are the kind of blog posts that are often supposed to go viral – Please share this! 😉
I have lost count of the number of times I have read that advice and I know that sometimes despite my better judgement I find myself drawn to them – normally with some kind of very clever Upworthy or Distractify heading… anyway here is my list post giving seven reasons why I write.
George Orwell, one of the greatest British novelists and author of Animal Farm and 1984 wrote a fantastic essay detailing the four reasons as to why he wrote.
So I will start with the three reasons why I am writing and then finish off with Orwell’s four reasons… Needless to say Orwell is a far better writer than I could ever begin to dream or imagine of being so you may want to just skip to his reasons!
1. Writing every day exercises the writing muscle.
Indeed if you can commit to just writing one sentence a day, by the end of a year you would have 365… although like with just flossing one tooth the chances are that one sentence will lead to more than one and so by the end of a year you would have a considerable body of text to work with.
John Steinbeck, had this to say: “Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.”
If you can get your volume up to 500 words a day then you would write a book the length of George Orwell’s Animal Farm every 60 days or so – admittedly that is quite a short work at just under 30,000 words, but still…
2. Writing helps me to discover, learn and even teach.
There is a great saying: “If you want to learn something, read about it. If you want to understand something, write about it. If you want to master something, teach it.”
And I think this really does hold true… It is certainly one of my main motivators for writing and indeed sometimes I hope that my writing may well teach people as well.
Not only that but the mere decision to write something encourages you to go off and find and discover new things. Indeed when I decided to write this post I had never even heard of George Orwell’s essay on Why I write and now I am quoting from it!
3. Writing is a great time to think.
I was looking through the #writeandrun31 hashtag on Twitter earlier and I found this great tweet from Eleanor Pell.
— Eleanor Pell (@E11iepe11) January 4, 2015
Whilst I don’t think I am particularly highly strung, I do find that writing ties in to my recent practice of meditation… and that when I am trying to write something it is a great time to think. I also find writing generally quite enjoyable and cathartic.
As an aside if ever you are really angered by something I have found it helpful to write a letter of complaint and then sleep on it for a day or two – the anger soon dissipates!
So there are three of the main reasons I write – I may well come back to this post again and add to this and hopefully improbe and enhance it – hopefully with your comments in mind – please leave them below!
Below are the four reasons George Orwell came up with in his Essay on Why I write:
(i) – Sheer egoism.
Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc., etc. It is humbug to pretend this is not a motive, and a strong one. Writers share this characteristic with scientists, artists, politicians, lawyers, soldiers, successful businessmen — in short, with the whole top crust of humanity. The great mass of human beings are not acutely selfish. After the age of about thirty they almost abandon the sense of being individuals at all — and live chiefly for others, or are simply smothered under drudgery. But there is also the minority of gifted, willful people who are determined to live their own lives to the end, and writers belong in this class. Serious writers, I should say, are on the whole more vain and self-centered than journalists, though less interested in money.
(ii) – Aesthetic enthusiasm.
Orwell suggests here that “The aesthetic motive is very feeble in a lot of writers”, and I suspect it is pretty feeble in me too… but even a pamphleteer or writer of textbooks will have pet words and phrases which appeal to him for non-utilitarian reasons; or he may feel strongly about typography, width of margins, etc. Above the level of a railway guide, no book is quite free from aesthetic considerations.
(iii) Historical impulse.
Desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity.
(iv) Political purpose.
Using the word ‘political’ in the widest possible sense. Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other peoples’ idea of the kind of society that they should strive after. Once again, no book is genuinely free from political bias. The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.
So there we have it the three reasons why I write, the four reasons why George Orwell thinks he and others write. Of the four reasons Orwell has the one that most resonates with me is that I write out of egotism.
How about you? Do you write? If so why? Love to hear from you in the comments.
And I leave you with this thought from Orwell – Hopefully you won’t find writing as hard!