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Did you ever stop to think about what it is that makes you want to write, whether on a blog or for a magazine or in secret notebooks you hide in your nightstand? It’s something I’ve often pondered. I recently read an interview with fiction author George Saunders (one of my favorites — a quirky, darkly humorous writer of primarily short stories) in which he speaks about the impulse to create. I found his analogy very useful and thought I’d share:

As far as the “impulse to create”—what comes to mind is something like this. Say you were standing in a group of people, and nearby some guys were throwing a Frisbee around, and suddenly one of them misthrew, and here it comes now, right over your head—that impulse to jump up and catch it is similar to what I feel when I’m writing. Why did you jump? Not to “honor the Frisbee” or “make a connection with the thrower” or “serve as the conduit/recipient of the Frisbee’s symbolic journey, blah blah blah.” You did it…well, who knows why, really? Partly the motivation is a “because it’s there” kind of thing. You start a story and in rereading it, see a place where it could be made better. Well, why not?

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  1. This is a great analogy of our pure want for writing, and our pure love for it. The impulse blooms from somewhere deep within, and it’s not always intended for telling a story, or to convey an underlying message, or even to impress readers or your family or friends. Or even yourself. You just jump—your heart jumps.

    I write because I feel there are messages and morals and stories that need to be told. I write because I want people to benefit from my writing and make their life or their world a better place. Sometimes authors don’t need this motivation—this cause. They just jump because their heart jumps.

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  2. Even while asleep we continue with the creative movements in the form of dreams.

    When I see a bad comercial as an example – I want to recreate it, do a rewrite.

    Yes, I would agree – we all want to be creators of some sort.

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  3. Great way to put it. I’m still struggling with what to write. I’ve always relied on school papers to push me to write. Without a clear question or idea to prove or disprove, I feel as if I’m floundering in the sludge that is my mind. My thoughts get all muddled and I have nothing. I also find myself intimidated by the thought of how to bring characters to life and the surroundings to vivid incarnations. I really do appreciate your thoughtful insights and help on writing.

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  4. Great perspective on why we create/write and the impulse that drives us to do it. Me, it’s the freedom of expression, as a way to discover new things, thoughts, experiences. To be able to share and learn at the same time. To feel inspired.

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  5. Wow, Daryl and the above comments were A-mazing perspectives about love for writing.

    My love for writing is as essential as I breathe in an oxygen and breathe out something useful for the world. Writing gives me magical reason of excitement and a sense of fulfilling my purpose. I have a romance with words that I can never define in words; it is a feeling that needs new word to describe. 🙂

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  6. Know what ? Am in such a rush to get it on paper, havent thought about it. Why? What triggered this ?
    Wow thanx.
    Loved some of the comments here too : ” romance with words” / ” breathing oxygen” / struggles, muddles…. :)) thanx ppl for a great post.

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  7. Our first ancestors, the cavemen and women, were storytellers…carving out hieroglyphics on the walls of their underground dwellings. It’s inherent in all humans to want to tell of their own experiences. Part of living is the retelling of what we’ve done…what we do…and what we will do.

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  8. This is a superb analogy. I write fiction and I do see it as an impulse. Sometimes my writing is like a pressure valve; it builds up and builds up until I have to open the tap and release the steam.

    I rarely sit and think ‘what will sell?’ or ‘what will people want to read?’ I know that a lot of fiction writing advice suggests people ought to write for the intended market (which is true if you only want to make money from it) but it is important to be true to yourself and write from the heart. Never underestimate the power of passion in your writing.

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  9. I like that paragraph: it very neatly describes something that almost isn’t there, the need to put together a bunch of sounds or shapes that collectively mean something. No more and no less, without an eye to profit or gain. No romance or pretension either – that has to be good!

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  10. Don’t you hate it when your head hits the pillow and then you get some idea for a story? Turn that lamp back on, pull the notebook out of your nightstand, and start jotting stuff down…

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  11. As for me the impulse that drives me to create a blog is the motivation/inspiration I get from my readers and prospective readers. It inspires me to write and share some useful information to them as I know one way or another, they learn something from me/my blog and that makes me happy to be able to share with them something that I know that they may not know about or just the mere fact of exchanging ideas from one another – is an enjoyable thing to do…

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  12. Most of my writings depends on how and what I’ve experienced through out all day or even in my past experiences. That is the impulse that mostly occurred to me. Though there is this thing that really drives me to blog. Is to share and to inspire people who will ready my post.

    I guess the posts above are right! Our heart just jumps!

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  13. I write because deep inside I know I could be jumping of helicopters, baking a cake, trying on a dreamy dress, resting on a hammock on a tropical island … but all I want and dare to do is write.

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  14. Very true Mr. David Houston! And the term “impulse to create” –that’s the perfect term for me to describe it. It just come to the point wherein I just want to write and write and write or create and create and create! 🙂 Maybe writing is addictive. 🙂

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  15. To me, writing is expressing what is inside your head, be it positive or negative. It is cleansing, like emptying the garbage. Some of my most hurtful experiences have influenced some of my best poetry. I feel even more validated when others can relate.

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  16. Also, I enjoy words, they are like puzzle pieces; grasping the right ones to get your point across. I’ve always been fascinated with them if that makes any sense!

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  17. ‘Cause I’m OCD? Sometimes I wonder, ’cause I’ll tweak, ‘n’ tweak, ‘n’ tweak when others will just leave it. Seriously though, I think It’s ’cause I’ve done it all my life. It didn’t cost anything more than a pencil and notebook to do, and learning how to do it is just reading and practice. and more reading and more practice – all that comes quite cheap. Heck, we even received packages of books in the post from my Mother’s friend because there was no library where we lived.

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  18. Mr Houston, the impulse to create can take on the semblance of a work like Flowers in the Attic: the choice of colours for the flowers is as real a story to tell as the nature of the florist. Excellent post!

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