I am a writer. I write in many forms. I still hand-write notes, send texts and email, write posts on Twitter and Facebook or articles like this one. In professional circles I craft speeches, write video scripts and website copy. I’m working on a graphic novel about a superhero with purple nipples. I even write snarky phrases on my bar’s chalkboard.
I write because it helps me funnel a variety of interests and emotions ranging from sheer intellectual curiosity to rants about why soccer sucks, to filling professional needs, channeling anger at Kanye West, or scratching my passions for sports, humor, startups, marketing, Mr. T, monkeys, mullets, mustaches, the Muppets and more.
Eight years ago the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) launched a National Day On Writing or #WhyIWrite. Like the new fad Ron Burgundy discovered – jogging or “yogging” with a soft “j” where apparently you just run for an extended period of time – it’s insanely simple. You just write and post #WhyIWrite in social media on October 20. No harm, no foul.
After all people, writing is important, isn’t it? That’s what I tell my illiterate friends. Seriously, along with speech and really awesome French kissing, writing is one of three principle ways we communicate, connect, engage, relate, and in my case more often than not, apologize for the previous night’s embarrassment.
This year NCTE is blowing it up through a new #WhyIWrite website and podcast hosted by best-selling author and social media feller C.C. Chapman who will interview writers of all genres and walks of life about what inspires them.
And as I know a number of writers I admire, I asked them why they write. Here’s what they said, and I hope it inspires you to write and on October 20 share #WhyIWrite in social media.
Rock & Roll Hall of Famer John Oates: “I’ve always thought of myself as a writer, whether it be songwriting or prose. I had an English teacher in seventh grade who encouraged me to develop my writing skills and believe in my ability. I earned a B.S. in Journalism from Temple University and chose that major because I’ve always believed that expressive and informative writing skills are important qualities for everyone.”
ESPN’s Kenny Mayne: “I found out at a young age my only two skills were throwing and writing. I like the freedom, to take a subject anywhere I desire, to surprise the listener or reader with the unexpected.”
Deadspin Founder Will Leitch: “I write because it is my way of making sense of the world and trying to turn into something that makes any sort of sense. Reality is impossible to figure out. Writing is the closest I can come to least wrangling it into a manageable bite. The world would be madness without it.”
Washington Post sports duder Dan Steinberg: “Writing is probably the thing I’ve always done best, and the easiest way I can show people who I am and what I think. You hear people talk about “voice” all the time, and my “voice” — the way I hear myself talk — comes out in my scribblings far, far more than it does in my actual voice. I’m not sure if this is healthy or not, but my favorite way to think about who I am is through things I’ve written. It would be impossible for me not to write.”
Best-selling author and Forbes scribe Christopher Steiner: “I find writing to be like anything else requiring hours of my time: While the labor can be annoying and even exasperating, I find immense satisfaction in producing something others can enjoy. So perhaps it isn’t writing that I like so well, but the state of having written. But one doesn’t get there without writing—a lot.”
Politico Editor Marty Kady: “I write because I realized a long time ago that words matter. The right words can change history – think Declaration of Independence, Martin Luther King’s letter from the Birmingham Jail, the Washington Post’s coverage of Watergate. But the right words can also change our lives – a nicely timed thank you note to a loved one or colleague, or a sweet note inside your child’s lunch box. My personal experience realizing that words can have an impact on others’ lives dates back to 1994. I wrote a story for a local newspaper about an elderly woman who had no indoor plumbing. Despite living in one of the most urbanized areas of Virginia, she had never been able to afford to connect her old shack on Route 1 in Dale City, Va., to the sewer line. The next day the local Home Depot, along with some community activists, showed up at her house to renovate it. Those words mattered.
Ben Thompson, badass author of “Badass”: “I love writing about the greatest warriors and badasses of history — not just because they’re thrilling, fascinating stories, but because it’s my way of bringing these tales to readers who are just as pumped up by their adventures as I am. Even the greatest and most heroic deeds of a Caesar, Scipio, or Germanicus would have been long forgotten if there weren’t a Tacitus or Suetonius to record their victories… and while I hesitate to compare myself to those great writers, I still hope to carry on that tradition in some small way.”
Social media icon Peter Shankman: “I write because my brain moves too fast to remember it all. I write to tell the stories that would otherwise be forgotten in an instant.”
We’re all told when we are younger that everyone is good at something. And as much as that may be utter crap, I know that in writing – along with mustache growing, pants wearing and beat-boxing the “Sanford & Son” theme song – I found my outlet of personal expression on a variety of topics ranging from the very mundane to quasi-intellectual to insanely stupid. So join me October 20 and tell the world #WhyIWrite.