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Why I Write Reason 4: I Like People Who Read

This one is likely to get me branded as a snob, but I don’t care. I like to read, and I like people who read. By this I mean reading books, not social media feeds or mindless clickbait listicles. Real readers tend to be better educated and more informed. Their familiarity with the written word also makes them better communicators. Most readers I have known are well-spoken, and can use proper spelling and punctuation.

You don’t need to read anything in particular. I’m not saying that I only hang with people who read literary fiction, or any particular genre. Read self-help books, for all I care. Read romance novels, or H.P. Lovecraft pastiche, or celebrity biographies. You don’t even need to read my stuff. Read!

The world boils over with willful ignorance. I’m not saying that avid readers can’t be rude, cruel, or downright horrible people; I’m saying that it’s less likely. Readers learn to see things from other perspectives. They develop empathy for people unlike themselves. They get outside the bubble of their own personal experience.

One of the reasons that it write is because it brings me in contact with people who read. It means that people who don’t read aren’t interested in my work, or interested in me. That’s a great filter. The sorts of people that I don’t want to interact with leave me alone. It’s not a motivation for writing, so much as a perk.

You can read more about Why I Write here.

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Why I Write Reason 3: I Don’t Want to Manage People

As I sit here in my kitchen, at the table, banging away on my laptop, I am accountable to no one. No one I telling me to work. I have to be self-motivated. At the same time, there’s no one that accountable to me. I don’t have to clear obstacles so people can do their jobs, or hover to make sure that they’re working. There’s no one to discipline and thus no one to fire. I write because I don’t want to manage people.
 
A large part of the “corporate era” of my life was performance coaching, and for the most part I loved it. When you have good employees, people who want to do a good job, it’s a joy to help them. To the best of my ability, I would make sure that they had the resources that they needed. I kept distractions away from them so they could concentrate. They got regular, positive feedback. There was training on issues they needed help with, and all the support that I could find. The job, after all, was about them, not me. I was there to help.
 
Unfortunately, the corporate overlords had their own goals. I had to explain to people who had never done the job why workers couldn’t meet their unrealistic metrics. Why couldn’t these people hit goals based on the company’s financial needs? What did I mean, they were asking for performance beyond actual human capabilities? Oh, and we need to cut the labor force, so find reasons to let some people go for cause. Then we don’t have to pay severance or unemployment
 
No names named, because they’d deny that anything like that went on. To this day they’ll try to sell you on what a fabulous company they are to work for. It happens everywhere, though, and everyone knows it.
 
When I’m writing, I don’t have to worry about anyone else. No one is telling me what to write, or how to write it. I don’t have anyone dictating how I have to treat people, and I don’t have to solve anyone else’s problems. Yes, it’s a bit selfish, but it’s also pure. I get to do my thing on my terms. I get to worry about my own needs, and my own issues. I don’t need to manage down to my subordinates, and I don’t have to manage up to appease my overlords.
 
You can read more about Why I Write here
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Why I Write Reason 2: I Love Late Nights

Dim the lights, embrace the blissful silence, and allow the rest of the world to fade away. The neighbors are quiet. The traffic outside has run its course until morning, and I can finally hear myself think. I write because I love late nights.

Over the course of my life I have lived in large, crowded cities. I have resided in remote, sparsely-populated villages. I have lived around party monsters and solemn, low-key people. The range of jobs I have held have had me working every hour on the clock at some point or another. The one constant has been a few hours in the middle of the night, where I can always escape. All manner of personal and professional stress falls away, and I am able to find a fleeting sort of peace.

Even though I can write at any time of the day or night, and I do, part of me prefers those late, quiet hours. I will take a nap during the afternoon, or plan to sleep late the next day, to be able to stay up late. I have even gone to bed at a reasonable hour or retired early, so that I can get up in the middle of the night. Anything to spend an hour or two basking in the darkness.

Some of my love of the wee hours has to do with my mental health, yes. Anxiety might wake me up, but the stillness and solitude calm my nerves. A bit of it is physical, when my arthritis flairs and I can’t get comfortable. The heat of the American Southwest, when it was 100 degrees fahrenheit at midnight, messed with me. Some of it is rebellion; I would not be beholden to the business hours the corporate world forced on me. I will use my time in the manner of my choosing.

Writing gives me an excuse to stay up late. Not wanting to spoil the silence and break the enchantment, I actually write. Sometimes I’ll read, but for the most part I put down some word count. No distractions. No mandate. Only me, a blank screen, and my own thoughts.

You can read more about Why I Write here.

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Why I Write Reason 1: Mental Health Issues

My sanity isn’t my primary motive for writing. I feel the need to explain that for some reason, although even if it were, that would be okay. Of all the motivations and goals that I have, this happened to be where my head is at the moment. So, it gets written first. It’s the absolute truth, though, that I write because I have mental health issues.

I suffer from generalized anxiety disorder. The kind that leads to insomnia and fatigue. Nausea and digestive issues. Panic attacks where you feel like you’re dying. No, it’s not the normal “worry” that everyone feels. The things that set me off are irrational, uncontrollable, and excessive. That’s why it’s a disorder.

When I write, I have something to do with my brain and my hands. I’m able to direct my attention away from what’s freaking me out, and put that energy into something constructive. It’s something that I have control over. Writing is also very meditative, at least for me, and it helps to calm me down. It’s something that I can do when I’m wide awake in the middle of the night, or when I don’t feel well physically. My headphones go on, with some white noise or calm music, and I sit down at the keyboard and focus.

It doesn’t always work, of course. Writing is not a substitute for necessary health care. The genuine issues that need to addressing, which I’m overreacting to while in the throes of an anxiety attack, still need dealing with. I’d be worse off if I didn’t have it as one of the tools in my toolbox, though.

As bizarre as it sounds, I’ve grown to see my anxiety as a benefit in my life. No, it isn’t pleasant and nothing about it is fun. Yet it’s been a driving force behind whatever success I have as a writer. Without it, I could easily have been wasting my time watching TV or playing video games, things that jangle my nerves too much now. I’ve turned a form of self-care into a career.

You can read more about Why I Write here.

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Understanding Why We Create, Part 2

In today’s podcast Katie and I continue a discussion of our respective creative processes. This isn’t what we originally planned to talk about, but we started the episode announcing that Katie was relaunching her blog. This led to her explaining why she was coming back to it after two years, and that naturally evolved into a larger conversation. This is why I love doing this podcast.