Answering the Why of Writing

[The following post originally ran in June 2014 on Hieropraxis.com.]

Image by Mildred Guerrero via Freeimages.com
Image by Mildred Guerrero via Freeimages.com

Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. – Ecclesiastes 12:12 (NIV)

From third grade through my freshman year in college, I played the violin. I got so I could play well enough to sit first chair in our high school orchestra and chamber orchestra. You could say I was a medium sized fish in the proverbial puddle.

Throughout this time, there was never a point when a conductor or violin teacher pulled me aside and told me to read about how to play the violin. I have no memory of anyone telling me to sit there and think about playing. The constant theme drummed into me long before I entered high school was “practice, practice, practice.”

And practice I did. I had the telltale mark between my jaw and neck to prove it. To this day, I keep my fingernails clipped short out of habit. It’s the practice that made me a competent violinist. I was never great, and I didn’t enjoy the practice that much. And that is why, in the end, I stopped playing.

There is no end of books, blogs, and advice pieces on writing from writers for would-be writers. Here’s all I want to add to that pile of words: If it gives you pleasure in the practice of it, keep going.

Sure, we all have some writing we have to do to be a part of civilized society. Lack of pleasure in doing it doesn’t let you off the hook for writing thank you notes or responding to emails or completing term papers.

But beyond those obligations, you have a choice about writing. And the proof is in the practice. Do you love the practice as much as the performance? Do you like it even when you don’t have to do it anymore?

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