Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Curious Case of the Whys

by Charlee Vale

The holidays are over and it's a brand new year. So it's time to admit something: I am having a creative existential crisis. Every time I sit down to work on an idea I ask myself what the point of the whole thing is. Why am I doing it? So I stop and do something else. I've been reading and other creative things.

Sometimes I get the itch to paint. Just splash stuff around on some acrylic paper and see what happens. So I dig through my art drawer, pull out the supplies and start playing. I call it 'therapy painting.' (I highly recommend it.)

I was painting on the floor of my bedroom the other night, binging on Netflix when a thought hit me--I never ask myself why I paint. I never need to. It's fun, it relaxes me, I get to create, it's hurting no one. And that is totally and completely okay.

So why is it that when I write I always ask myself 'why'?

I've heard a hundred stories about writers afraid to say they write because they're afraid of being judged. I've heard stories of people who ask writers when they're going to get real jobs. I've heard stories of writers stopping because they're afraid they're not good enough, strong enough, anything enough. There are stories of every color and shade, from writers and non-writers all pointing to the fact that we expect a 'why' from writing.

But people don't ask you that when you paint. Or when you play music. Or scrapbook. Almost any other creative hobby. You don't need a reason to do it, because it makes you happy.

Now I honestly don't know why we (and others) feel the need to justify why we write. That's not a mystery I can solve. But I am here to encourage you that as a writer, you don't need a why. Whether you're writing with a goal of publication, or journaling the stories that appear in your head, your hobby doesn't need a justification.

So in this new year, if you are down with a case of the whys, silence the endless question marks in your head and in other peoples words. Write for you, and only you. That first, is the most important.

Happy new year!

Charlee Vale is a Young Adult writer, agency intern, photographer, and tea lover living in New York City. You can also find her at her website, and on Twitter, and painting, when the situation requires. 


JeffO said...

Interesting, I've never noticed that before, but I suppose it's true. The thing is, if you qualify "I'm a writer" with something like 'newspaper' or 'magazine', even 'textbook', I bet nobody blinks. But if it's just "a writer", everyone wonders what and why (and "when can I read it?").

Debra McKellan said...

That's beautiful!

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