This article was originally published in August 2012.
I get it. You're busy. You have other commitments: work, school, the kids, your friends. I understand.
I know writing a short story or a novel or a blog post is scary. What if someone reads it? And yes, it's true. You might fail. People might not like what you write. Worse, they might ignore your writing altogether.
However, if you've ever wanted to be a writer, now is the time to start. If you don't believe me, here are seventeen reasons to write something right now.
1. Your writing doesn't have to be perfect (yet).
Stop being such a perfectionist and write something. Write gibberish. Write terrible rhymes. Write whatever you're thinking. Write about what's around you. You can edit it later. All good writing is choosing the best words out of the bad words anyway. Go write a lot of bad words (pun intended if that's what it takes to get you started).
2. Writing is relaxing.
When you've had a long day, writing is one of the best ways to decompress. Let yourself get a little sleepy, a little loose, and then let the words flow. You actually write better when you're groggy, not fully awake, and relaxed.
3. You're going to get rejected no matter what.
You're more likely to get into Harvard than to get your short story published by a top literary magazine. However, rather than let that discourage you, let it free you up from perfectionism. You have nothing to lose now. Since you're going to be rejected no matter what, you can write whatever you want, submit wherever you want, and you'll be no worse off.
4. Thousands of publications want to publish you.
However, not all literary magazines are so difficult to be published by. According to Duotrope, are 4,368 publications who may want to publish short stories, poetry, and creative non-fiction. There have never been more people in the world who want to publish your work. So go find them.
5. Does the world really need another short story / book / blog post?
Is the world still in pain? Do people believe their lives are meaningless? Are there those who suffer from despair, ennui, narcissism, and loneliness? Does war still exist? Do people still commit suicide? Do battered women still stay with the man who abuses them? Do fathers still abandon their children?
Yes, the world really needs another story.
6. Stop being a consumer.
You've read stories in books. You've listened to stories in songs. You've watched stories on the television screen. Aren't you tired of always being a consumer? Why don't you stop being a consumer and start creating a story?
7. You don't have to be a great writer to write something.
You don't need my permission to write. You don't need your teacher's permission to write. You don't need your parents' permission to write. Stop waiting for permission. Just go write.
8. Become a great writer.
You won't become a better writer if you don't write today. Great writers are not born, they are made slowly through daily, deliberate practice.
9. Create a writing habit.
It's easier to write something every day than it is to write three times a week. When you write every day, it becomes a habit. When you write three times a week, it takes willpower. Willpower is a limited resource. It will fail you. Habits, on the other hand, can last for a lifetime.
10. Build a writing career.
If you want to be a writer when you “grow up,” you have to write. You have to submit your work. You have to be rejected. You have to write something anyway.
If you want to start a career writing fiction, check out my new book about how to write and submit short stories.
11. Because you're never too old to write.
Mark Twain was forty-one before he published Tom Sawyer. Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the Little House on the Prarie series, was in her sixties before she published her first novel. You're not too old to write, but you aren't getting any younger. Get started today.
12. Because you're never too young to write.
This month we published the first article of a monthly column by a The Magic Violinist, a disciplined, passionate, and talented writer. She has already completed three NaNoWriMo novels and has probably read more books about writing than I have. And she's twelve. You're not too young, but time goes by quickly. Get started today.
13. You can always find fifteen minutes.
Fifteen minutes a day, six days a week, we practice the craft of writing at The Write Practice. Do you have fifteen minutes for your passion?
14. Write to transform the world.
You want to make your mark on society. You want to help free people from depression, addiction, shame, self-focus, and hate. You want to do something that people remember. You want to create something that lasts generations, that's remembered for hundreds of years. You want to inspire someone to see life as it really is, a gift and a joy, something to be grateful for. You write to change the world.
15. Because balance is overrated.
Passionate people aren't balanced. Passionate people are actually kind of crazy. They're willing to sacrifice money, grades, prestige, power, entertainment, and sometimes even relationships for their priorities. And yet, who is happier? Passionate people or balanced people? You decide: are you going to be passionate or balanced.
16. Write something for your children.
Because your kids just want to hear your voice as you tell them a bed time story. Write for the people who are listening.
17. Write something for yourself.
In my book, Let's Write a Short Story! I wrote:
“I write because I know I’m meant to. I know that I need to. It’s good for my soul. It connects me to the human race. It feeds me.”
We write for others but we also write for ourselves. Your writing might transform someone's life, but it also might transform your life.
Are you going to write today?
Why do you write? Share your reasons in the comments section.
Follow reason #1 and write imperfectly, exuberantly, and for the joy of it.
Write for fifteen minutes, and when you're finished, post your writing practice in the comments section.
And if you post, be sure to show some community spirit and comment on a few other writers' posts.
Photo by John Nuttall. Edited by Joe Bunting.