Why Do I Write?

Why do you write? That’s a question I see on the boards a lot. I thought I’d take a minute to answer that question.

I was never one to sit and write as a child. I was the reader. Often, my family would find me on propped up my bed, a book in my lap. If they insisted that I go to the living room to watch television, the book came with me, and I read out there. That was my escape. I tried journaling, but that would last for a minute or so, and I wouldn’t write in it again until something else big upset my applecart. Some of that writing is lost to time and dozens of moves. I still have a few notebooks of sketchy angst from my Navy days on, but day-to-day living is lost to time.

I remember the first time I sat at a computer to script a story for pleasure. My ship had just returned from its West Pacific cruise in 1986, and I had a new roommate. A lot had happened in the six months I’d been gone—not all of it positive. One highlight of the voyage was the time spent in the antenna shop playing Dungeons & Dragons with some of my shipmates. We had to relieve the boredom somehow while we floated around the Pacific Ocean. A couple of the characters I played stuck with me, and I sat down to capture their story when we returned. I think I’d typed around twenty thousand or so words when I met someone and—SQUIRREL!

I changed in that relationship. That’s when video games became more prominent in my life. Back in the day, console games ruled. The Nintendo® role-playing games offered more than just the standard shoot-em-up that gave you a high score and little else. I wanted more. Over time, role-playing console games became a substitute for reading. For me, video games turned into interactive storytelling in which I build a persona to play. Some characters make it into my stories. Most of my role-playing characters make it into my games. A lot of those characters move into my head and guide my hands as I get their stories out. 

As writers, many of us already know that our characters each embody a piece of ourselves. I’m no different. I recognize parts of myself in my characters. It’s one way that I get to work through some of my inner angst and anger. I can express my feelings by writing much more comfortably than I can when talking. Not all my writing makes it to the page, but I can go back and look at the highlights when life wasn’t as rosy as it is now.

So, why do I write? I write to help process my emotions. I write to get out the things my throat won’t let me say. I write so I can feel.

Over the years, writing has become a form of therapy for me. It’s become an outlet for those things that need expression. These days, I don’t write because I choose to, I write because I need to.

How about you? Why do you write?

You can follow me on Facebook at @jjshaunauthor.

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