The Writing Life by
(234 Stories)

Prompted By Why We Write

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Why do we write?   For me words seem to come easily and I enjoy the writing process.   (See Why I Blog)

But here’s what some renown writers have to say about their writing life.

write because I can’t be satisfied with the colossal job of living … I must order my life in sonnets and sestinas to provide a reflector for my 60-watt lighted head.”   SYLVIA PLATH.

“I write because there is some lie that I want to expose.”   GEORGE ORWELL            

Writing is my way of expressing – and thereby eliminating – all the various ways we can be wrong-headed.”   ZADIE SMITH

don’t know why I started writing.  I don’t know why anybody does.  Maybe they’re bored or failures at something else.”   CORMAC McCARTHY

“Why does one write?  Because she feels misunderstood.  Because she wants to rephrase the world.”   NICOLE KRAUSS

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I have to say.”    FLANNERY O’CONNOR 

Because I can’t escape it.   It’s a way for me to address and counter my questions about what it means to be human.”   JUNOT DIAZ

“Any writer worth his salt writes to please himself – an exorcism not necessarily of his demon but of his divine discontentment.”   HARPER LEE

Why do I write,  torturing myself to put it down? … Certain ideas keep filing away at my lethargy,  my complacency.”   RALPH ELLISON

I could not live in the world of my parents,  the world of war,  the world of politics.  I had to create a world of my own.”   ANAIS NIN

“I write with a grim determination to deal with things that are hidden and difficult.”    COLM TOIBIN

“I just knew there were stories I wanted to tell.”    OCTAVIA BUTLER

And why do we read?

“I read so I can live more than one life in more than one place.”    ANNE TYLER

Dana Susan Lehrman

Profile photo of Dana Susan Lehrman Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!

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Tags: Authorship, Writing


  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    Those are great, Dana. Thanks for sharing them. They’ve given me more to chew on…

  2. John Shutkin says:

    Thank you for this great little compendium, Dana. As much as I enjoy sharing our own thoughts about writing, hearing from the “pros” is most thought-provoking. (And Orwell’s quote is truly scary.) Amd your featured image is perfect!

  3. Suzy says:

    Dana, thanks for this collection of quotes from renowned writers about why they write. I am particularly struck by the fact that Flannery O’Connor said the same thing as Joan Didion. I wonder if one of them got the idea from the other. (They were of the same generation, although Didion lived a lot longer.)

  4. Khati Hendry says:

    Wonderful collection of quotes. Writing seems, like other arts, quintessentially human. A way to express or seek to understand or influence our existence. Maybe other species do it, but who knows?

  5. Laurie Levy says:

    Thanks for sharing these wonderful quotes, Dana.

  6. Dana – Love these quotes! My fav is the Anne Tyler comment because reading opens my world view, but writing helps me to experience it……

  7. I identify the most with Flannery O’Connor. Thanks for giving me that wonderful quote.

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