Why I Write 2


Writers have all sorts of pretentious reasons for why they write. I’m going to add my own to the mix.

But let me just say that there are really two kinds of writing I do, and a different reason for each. I write fiction novels and I write blogs about various topics.

I’ll get the easy one out of the way first. I write fiction because I have ideas that I think are fun. They’re the kinds of things I would read, but they don’t exist yet, so I have to write them myself. Sure, I occasionally manage to figure out how to sneak some kind of “message” into my stories, but I only figure out what that message is after I’ve written the story. And I only use the message to enhance the story.

Blogging is a different animal altogether.

I started blogging because I’m a writer and I thought I had a lot to share on the subject of writing. I figured getting my ideas about writing out in the open would be helpful to others, and it would help me hone my own writing skills and cement my best writing practices. This has led to a lot of posts about writing that I’m actually kind of embarrassed about.

When I revived this website, I had a plan. I was no longer going to write about writing, because that’s kind of a niche topic and I wanted to reach more people with my writing. If they like my blog, then maybe they’ll one day like my books, too. So there was a practical approach to it. I even came up with the idea of using monthly themes to keep me focused, which worked for the first two months.

After those two months ended, I reevaluated, and decided I didn’t want to keep writing with themes. I wanted to be able to do more things that couldn’t be defined into a single theme with other things. Some blog posts are too unique. Sure, I could have a theme of “Stories from my life” but I would be reaching for straws trying to find good stories to tell by the end of the month.

Now I write down ideas as they come to me. If I have the beginnings of a blog post forming in my head, it’s not enough to say “Oh yeah, I’ll jot down a quick note and write the post later.” No. I need to write the post right then, when the ideas are fresh and I know where the ideas are coming from. Otherwise I end up forcing it and the result is weak.

This is why my posts don’t always seem to make sense back to back, but some do. As I write posts, sometimes there are little seeds of ideas for other posts. I don’t always know what those seeds are going to grow into, but I plant them and let them grow until they’re ready to be plucked.

I swear that’s the most coherent extended metaphor I’ve ever written. Excuse me while I pat myself on the back.

So I haven’t gotten to why I write a blog, yet. I swear, it’s not a virtuous or altruistic reason like “I just want to help people.” I mean, I do want to help people, but there’s more to it than that.

I need to help myself.

When I write, I unpack thoughts I don’t know how to unpack on my own. I make connections between things that I couldn’t have made if I just shared my ideas or problems with friends.

“Why not just keep a journal then?” you might ask. And I’d start by saying I also keep a journal. But that’s for different reasons. Sometimes the ideas in it end up on here, but usually they’re for me to have a log of how I’m doing now compared to how I was. It’s a bit of self-therapy.

With the issues I really want to work out, I turn to the blog. Once I have an idea of how to figure it out, I begin writing. When I write on the blog, I know other people are going to see it, so I have some quality standards to maintain, both in writing quality and thoroughness of exploration of the subject. Oh, and I try to include a little bit of humor. These posts could be incredibly depressing if I didn’t have a sense of humor.

And if you want an idea of what a potential seed coming from a post looks like, my sense of humor actually qualifies right there, because that could become its own post. I realized while writing this that my sense of humor is vastly different here and in real life, and in some ways it’s almost better here, if only because I’m more open to joking about tough subjects on here than in person. But then again, I might have just mined that seed for all it’s worth. And that’s fine, too, because writing helps me come up with ideas.

Then again, sometimes I just write a blog post because I think it could be entertaining.


Photo by Peter Žagar on Unsplash


About David Shank

David T. Shank is a writer, runner, and musician, in that order. His blog is hopefully an oasis among the vast ocean of negativity that is the Internet. He lives in Cleveland studying how to write good.


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2 thoughts on “Why I Write

  • A.S. Akkalon

    Interesting! Thanks for sharing. I do get the feeling from your blog posts that you’re working your way through stuff – it’s part of what I enjoy about your posts. I’m not great at ruminating on my own life and I can see the value of having a forum for shaping random thoughts into better formed thoughts and maybe even reaching some conclusions. 🙂

    Btw, do yourself a favour and stop using the expression “fiction novel”. It’s an insta-reject from a lot of agents. A novel is fiction by definition, so “fiction novel” is redundant.

    I wrote a post once about why I write. Here it is if you’re interested: http://www.asakkalon.com/why-i-write/

    • David Shank Post author

      D’oh! I guess I always say “fiction novel” to differentiate from “non-fiction book.” I should probably just shorten that to “fiction” for this post.

      And I’m really glad you enjoy these introspective kinds of posts. I really hope there’s someone else out there who finds what they need here, while I do this because it’s what I need for myself.