Teacher Inquiry

Grant Faulkner: Why I Write


Grant Faulkner—NWP Writers Council member, former director of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and author of Pep Talks for Writers: 52 Insights and Actions to Boost Your Creative Mojo—shares 100 reasons why he keeps writing.

Originally published on October 1, 2017

When I was a young boy, I remember going grocery shopping with my mother, and if she lost track of me in the store, she’d inevitably find me in the aisle that carried pens and notebooks. I had a strange fascination—perhaps even a fetish—for stationery, pens, and journals. When I visited my father’s office, I’d sneak away with a treasure trove of pads of papers and pens. I asked for a leather-bound diary with a lock on it for my 7th birthday. Soon afterward, my mother gave me an antique rolltop desk designed for a child, and I was in heaven. I felt like a real writer, and I wrote my first story at that desk.

This is all to say that when I think about the myriad of things that made me a writer and made writing such an urgent act, I sometimes think it was pre-determined. I felt the calling to write from as early as I can remember. I took a few steps in different directions here and there over the years, but I knew that no matter my profession, writing would always be a strong gravitational force in my life.

But that primal calling doesn’t tell me “the why” of it all. Why spend so many hours—why spend the better part of an entire lifetime—in this activity that doesn’t generally offer much societal approbation, and certainly not much money?

I once told a friend that there were at least 100 good reasons why I wrote. But after I said that, I wondered if I was exaggerating. It turns out I wasn’t.

Here’s why I write.

  1. I write to see the beginning and the end of it all.
  2. I write to find myself.
  3. I write to lose myself.
  4. I write to tame reality.
  5. I write to augment reality.
  6. I write to discover how to survive.
  7. I write to think about how to die.
  8. I write to shape my ideas with words.
  9. I write to see the world through others’ eyes.
  10. I write to exult the possible.
  11. I write to probe the chaos in myself.
  12. I write to better define the clarity of myself.
  13. I write to touch a dragon’s scales.
  14. I write to live in a wizard’s magic.
  15. I write to make the world bigger.
  16. I write to make the world smaller.
  17. I write to demystify people’s differences.
  18. I write to see with fresh eyes.
  19. I write to reorder and recombine the world.
  20. I write to listen to the heartbeat of the monstrous.
  21. I write to break open the locked chambers of myself.
  22. I write to enliven feelings that have become numb.
  23. I write to hear a tree’s whispers.
  24. I write to make the obvious strange (and the strange obvious)
  25. I write to trace the contours of nuances.
  26. I write to push the boundaries of myself.
  27. I write because I don’t know what else to do.
  28. I write to be a part of the world.
  29. I write to invent myself.
  30. I write to preserve myself.
  31. I write to change the world.
  32. I write to explore my darkness.
  33. I write to inhabit my lightness.
  34. I write to hold onto ephemeral moments.
  35. I write to quarrel with myself.
  36. I write to travel to other lands.
  37. I write to encounter the unknown.
  38. I write to live in the past and the future.
  39. I write to eavesdrop on others’ conversations.
  40. I write to peek through the keyholes of forbidden rooms.
  41. I write to find an antidote to my malaise.
  42. I write to nourish my spirit.
  43. I write to test my values.
  44. I write to read the world.
  45. I write because with each word, new expanses open.
  46. I write so that my life will not end when I die.
  47. I write to not die of the truth.
  48. I write to maintain my equilibrium.
  49. I write to be seduced by all of the strange and wonderful possibilities of language.
  50. I write to be vulnerable.
  51. I write to share.
  52. I write to find beauty in the gritty aspects of life and grittiness in the beautiful.
  53. I write to entertain myself.
  54. I write to converse with others.
  55. I write to hide from others.
  56. I write because there are so many voices in my head.
  57. I write to give.
  58. I write because I only have one life, and I want so many more.
  59. I write to get revenge (sorry).
  60. I write to find out why.
  61. I write to resist anything that threatens me.
  62. I write to pursue the things I can never quite know.
  63. I write to know the boundaries of my fears.
  64. I write to not be lonely.
  65. I write to feel solace.
  66. I write to to fortify my resilience.
  67. I write to mend.
  68. I write to feel whole.
  69. I write to know what makes bad people good and good people bad.
  70. I write to hear the music of life.
  71. I write to better enjoy my morning cup of coffee.
  72. I write to better enjoy my evening glass of wine.
  73. I write to develop a rapt eye–and then express the raptures I see.
  74. I write to appreciate others’ words and stories more.
  75. I write to experiment, to fail, and to try again.
  76. I write to pause.
  77. I write to notice.
  78. I write because words open a secret door through which all else flows.
  79. I write to talk to myself.
  80. I write to feel the immensity of it all.
  81. I write to pray.
  82. I write to rewrite.
  83. I write because there’s no way to get it right.
  84. I write so that I can buy fine journals and pens.
  85. I write to retort.
  86. I write to hear the silence.
  87. I write because I’m not satisfied with just living.
  88. I write to wend through the contortions of all of my doubts.
  89. I write to know all of the different homes where I have lived.
  90. I write to not feel misunderstood.
  91. I write to feel the awe of all of the scents, sights, sounds, touches, and tastes of the world.
  92. I write to be more intimate with myself.
  93. I write to hear what gods and devils talk about.
  94. I write to speak in tongues.
  95. I write to know the things that are hidden.
  96. I write to remember.
  97. I write because, as Gloria Steinem said, “Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.”
  98. I write because I don’t know how not to write.
  99. I write to find hope in suffering.
  100. I write to light candles in the darkness. I write to keep going, so I’ll add just one more.
  101. I write to love.

I just sent my friend these 100 reasons and told her I think I can come up with 100 more.