Why Write?

I have been writing for many years but now I ask why? I have recently found it difficult to write, something I struggle to understand. I have always been able to write my feelings, my thoughts, my ideas for myself. Writing my thoughts I was able to say what I really wanted without fear of negative response.

Natalie Goldberg in her book “Writing Down the Bones” writes:

“‘But why,’ people asked me, ‘does everybody want to write?’ … We all have a dream of telling our stories – of realizing what we think, feel and see before we die. Writing is a path to meet ourselves and become intimate. … What crannies of untouched perception can you explore?”

A friend of Natalie’s and a fellow writer, Julia Cameron wrote in her book “Right to Write” published in 1998:

Why should we write? We should write because it is human nature to write. Writing claims our world. It makes it directly and specifically our own. …

We should write because writing brings clarity and passion to the act of living. Writing is sensual, experiential, grounding. We should write because writing is good for the soul. We should write because writing yields us a body of work, a felt path through the world we live in.”

“A felt path through the world we live in”, exploring “crannies of untouched perception”, perhaps that is why I am struggling to write now. My path is winding, my perception broadening, my feelings deepening. I have been exploring my family history and uncovering much that is giving me pause. There is a trail of separation and dislocation that begins with the first of my Father’s ancestors who were sent to Australia as convicts from Britain. I wonder that the present generation carry some of the pain and anxiety from the past that may shape their “untouched perception” of their current reality? Is my anxiety inherited?

Science has begun to study how our DNA can be shaped by more than just physical factors. In 2017 a report of three separate studies by scientists concluded:

They came to a stunning realization that if our emotions affect our DNA and our DNA shapes the world around us, than our emotions physically change the world around us.

And not just that, we are connected to our DNA beyond space and time.

We create our reality by choosing it with our feelings.


Epigenetics is the study of the chemical tags that wrap around our DNA and determine which are used and which not. These tags respond to our environment especially food and stress. When it comes to inheritance, we are born carrying some of those same tags that our fore-fathers and mothers had. As one scientist who has studied the effects of past trauma on the children and grandchildren of holocaust victims states:

“I think everyone’s intrigued by this idea they’re part of a history that isn’t just about the genes that they have, their DNA, that it’s also about the experiences that occurred before them to their ancestors. I think this is such a powerful idea,” said Rachel Yehuda, Professor of Neuroscience and Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York.


My story, the realization of what I “think, feel and see” in Natalie Goldberg’s words, is the story of my ancestors too. That story needs to be told in all honesty so that I may “claim my world” as Julia Cameron says. The path is long, there will be many twists and turns, hills and valleys but it will bring “clarity and passion to (my) act of living”, it will be “grounding”, but above all it will be “good for the soul”.

That is why I write.

11 thoughts on “Why Write?

  1. To “claim your world” and “bring clarity to it” strikes me as a crucially important reason to write, Jim. I think I myself do it to some extent, although it is not my primary motive for writing. It seems to me that what you are doing is so important, especially in this day and age when just about everyone wants to control our personal narratives in order to gain one thing or another from us. You’re taking back your world. I think I can learn somethings from you.

    I both dabble in writing and in painting. Sometime back, I had a “very serious conversation with myself” about painting. I realized that I had given it up 40 years earlier because it had become a chore. That is, I was getting so much praise for my works that I had begun to paint for praise.

    So I thought about it. Did I want that to happen again this time, now that I was painting again? After much thought, I realized that painting had come natural and effortless to me when I was a child doing it for the mere fun and joy of it. So, I vowed with that insight to keep tabs on myself in order to make sure I was painting for fun. When I started blogging again, I made the same vow about blogging — not to lose sight of having fun.

    I have other motives, of course, but I try to keep fun foremost. I have never been so prolific as a writer as since I resolved to do that. But I don’t know if that works for anyone other than me.


    1. Thank you Paul for that response. I’m pleased this “blogging” process can allow such discussion in a bit more depth than our usual “social media” forums?! I was particularly impressed with your piece on “Three Pillars of a Well-Educated Mind” and will write a response to that soon. For the moment I want to pick up your point about “having fun”. I absolutely agree that is the most important focus of any endeavour. I’m glad you have reminded me of that. It is something I think I have lost recently and that is because I also started to think more about what others may want rather than just do what I felt was important to me. That has been the single most difficult learning task of my life – knowing myself and being confident enough to be that person. When I started this blog site I wanted to share some of my memories and thoughts of my past, now I realise that can lead me to a deeper understanding of the person I thought I was and the person I know I am. Thank you, Paul, we all learn from each other.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Indeed, we do learn from each other. For instance, you helped me today to clarify a goal in writing that I was only half -conscious of. I’m grateful to you for that, and glad I could be of similar help to you.

        I have just completed a short post on why I write, inspired by your post, and linking back to yours. I’ll publish it after midnight my time — in about three hours — so that I’ll have at least one post for the new day.

        I am also quite happy that you enjoyed my “Three Pillars” post, and I’m very curious to read yours when you publish it.

        By the way, blogging impresses me as the best social medium for these types of discussions. I’ve been on forums and FaceBook, and I’ve never been too happy with the quality of the discussions. Some of them strike me as good, but so many seem to be dominated by rudeness or trolling — both of which distract from the discussion.


      2. Yes, the rudeness and trolling is endemic in those places and I think that has a lot to do with the way people are forced to write short responses. Facebook and Twitter and Instagram are more, in my view, places of quick chats and superficial “catch-up” notes. I have been more impressed with blogging because it enables and even encourages that longer more reflective piece that is similar to the old skill of “letter writing”. I’m showing my age, but I used to write long letters to my parents and friends before modern technology came along. I think our society could do with more lengthy reflection! Unfortunately our leaders seem to be obsessed with the immediacy of Twitter, which just “trumps” free thought!!! (Apologies for that pathetic pun!!! HeHeHe!)

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Apologies accepted, but I seriously doubt I can trump that. 😀

        I think you’re right about the length of the posts on other platforms. No room for nuanced thought.

        I so miss letter-writing. Just the feeling of a good pen on quality paper alone!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t consider myself to be a “writer”, but I write because it forces me to think things through. It also stops me from lying to myself or trying to minimise or exaggerate. So I am “bring[ing] clarity to it.” I initially wrote about narcissism because I needed to think about it, and the comments and other blogs about narcissism helped me to sort my thinking. I still write about it and read about it but the need for that thinking phase is not as acute as it once was.

    Have you read about intergenerational trauma? https://www.psychologytoday.com>how-trauma-is-carried-across-generations. You might be interested in this. (I hope the link works as I had some trouble with it.) Or you can also just Google it. 🙂 Another name for it is transgenerational trauma.


    1. I think you are a writer, Lynette, because you share your thoughts in words and images. The photos you post are so evocative they need few words. I know what you mean, though, it’s just tha I believe everyone is a writer in the sense that we all share our story in some way. This forum – blogging, I find is wonderful because it gives us the chance to share ideas, thoughts, feelings, images, anything with people we have never met and from anywhere at all. It gives us connection – and that’s what being human is all about!
      I am aware of transgenerational trauma but haven’t read that link. I’ll copy and paste the url because it didn’t open from your comment. That issue of descendants carrying some of the effects from their forebears is actually what started me on my family history work. My sister and I are close, but our cousins are all distant and our parents generation were quite disconnected. I certainly don’t think that is all down to our ancestors, but it is a factor and, in broader terms has a lot to do with the level of disconnection throughout Western society today. In our emphasis on competition and individual achievement and our passion for growth which has resulted in so much conflict, I believe we have lost that sense of community that sustains healthy people. I hope my grandchilds generation can build a healthier world if they understand how we got into this mess.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I just read that article you linked. Yes! I particularly like the way it reinforces the need to share the story, tell the present generation what happened, dont try and hide it or worse, deny it. Children need the truth, and we are all children of life! Thanks Lynette

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I write better than I speak. Whenever I had something serious to tell someone, they got a letter.
    I like writing fiction because imagination is literally the limit. I like taking a snippet of anything and wondering why it is; Slide came from a Lyric in a song, for example.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I like this idea of writing to claim your world, to find the many paths and angles to understanding yourself, through, as you mention, your ancestry, your history, your rich and unique experience. I love this exploration of why we write, Jim. I also love Julia Cameron’s words: “writing yields us a body of work, a felt path through the world we live in.” And Natalie Goldberg’s: “Writing is a path to meet ourselves and become intimate.” It is also a way to discover our essence and to put our rich experience into physical form, through letters, words and sentences typed or written on paper or on computer. As I get older I think about how my unique experience of life will simply vanish once I leave this earth, unless I write it down. Even if no one ever reads it, it will continue to exist. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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