Why Do You Write?

Why do you write? I’m often asked that. The context is usually this: why, when you’re a trained teacher and translator and spent years learning to be a certified life coach, do you now seem to spend every free moment you have writing instead of earning?

Speech makes me sound so lame. Out they come, the stock answers.

I can’t not.

It makes me feel good.

I’ve done it all my life.

It makes me feel like I was born to do it.

It’s how I support people and contribute.

It brings together everything I am and everything I’ve ever done.

And then they hit me with the money blow. But it doesn’t feed the kids or give your husband much support, does it? At that point I simply smile and ask if they want more coffee.

My husband and children are, quite simply, my heart and soul. My reason for being here. With people who believe that making money for its own sake is the only reason worth getting out of bed and working hard every day, there’s no point trying to explain how proud my husband and kids are of what I’ve achieved, the challenges I’ve overcome; no point trying to explain how writing helps me recreate every precious moment I have with my loved ones; no point struggling to explain that I do earn a little from my writing, just not enough to call myself a professional. I don’t explain how coaching and writing brought me back from what was probably low grade chronic depression caused by a previously undiagnosed medical condition. Many people didn’t even realise I was down.

Yesterday, while I was uploading and archiving my old coaching articles into this blog, I kept coming across lines, fragments expressing my thoughts on writing.  They say so much more than I can when I speak.

(From The Sound of Music)

I sang my way around Europe when I worked as a language teacher and translator; my voice was a vital part of who I was and what I did.  After I had my kids, I moved back to Scotland and slowly, imperceptibly, I stopped writing, stopped singing, stopped playing the guitar and even stopped speaking the foreign languages I was fluent in. Silence gently settled around my soul like snow.

When I drifted into life coaching, on my journey out of what I now realise was low grade chronic depression, my passion to tell the whole world about it bubbled up, spilled over and finally gushed out in the torrent that helped me rediscover my voice…

…Well, Maria never did make it as a nun, although, thanks to her Mother Superior’s glorious rendition of  “Climb every mountain”, she got the handsome husband, the home full of happy kids and found her dream. Am I glad to have my voice back, a spirited, life loving, world worshipping voice? Oh yes. Oh, dear God, YES!!!

(From Saving more than Money)

Ideas flit in and out of my mind like small birds; if I don’t capture their fleeting presence in a note or a sketch, they take off, no doubt  to bring flashes of colour, pleasure and inspiration to someone more receptive.

When I write, it helps me to become mindful and aware, to be still and silent enough to see everything, every detail, every sensation as meaningful. My life becomes one big haiku. When I put down my pen and get ready to focus on the shopping, I usually start my week feeling lucky to have a family to shop for, the money to feed them and the time and means to cook healthy meals.

(From Treasure Hunting)

Some moments of clarity or emotion are so powerful they brim up and overflow and make me feel that if I don’t channel them into words, control them and create something from them that I will drown or that something very precious, something vital will be washed away and lost. When I sit down to recreate those moments, I feel like my whole life, everything I know and everything I am is a prism being used to refract the light of a message coming, quite simply, from somewhere else.

When I coach well, I feel the same connection.

Know then, that if anything I ever write affects, moves, touches or supports you, it was meant for you, sent from somewhere that neither of us can fully comprehend. I’m happy to be the messenger.

The inspiring feedback I get from coaching colleagues and friends every month about my articles, the support I received from my first guest post at Write to Done yesterday and from this blog’s first ever comments made me feel like I’m not wasting my time, like I’m meant to be doing this.

What do you do that makes you feel like the talents you were born with have found their voice, their place in the world? What makes you feel like you’re in the flow and have finally found your bliss?


  1. When the Sound of Music first came out, I was an aspirant in a convent. And because my name was Mary, I more than related to the “Climb every Mountain” theme.

    Years later, after my son Aaron was diagnosed with autism, I would think of Maria and her wish for, “a dream that will need all the love you can give, every day of your life, for as long as you live.” Coincidently, or not so coincidently, the name Aaron means “high mountain”.

    Aaron has taught me many life lessons. He is a blessing. But, but, but…. I still have much to learn.

  2. Any high plateaux, peaks and good days you have with Aaron must seem like that glorious scene at the beginning of the film, gazing at beauty as far as the eye can see and marvelling at how far you’ve both come. But I can’t imagine how hard the challenges must be, the seemingly endless climb, to love and be loved in a way that many of us can never understand because we haven’t experienced such a journey.

    I wish you all kinds of strength, support, love and pauses for peace in your days. Thank you for sharing this with us all and expanding our awareness.

    1. I feel it already has been – so many good people and loving thoughts to wish it on its way! Thank you for saying to me, in the midst of some very dark days all those years ago “You write beautifully.” That email exchange altered the course of my life just as every one of your books has helped make me a better person. I’m blessed to have found them. You’re an inspiration!

  3. For writers, that fiendish need to write, to put words on paper, to express with a pen what many of us cannot say aloud, is akin to what painters and sketchers feel when their hands itch to express what they cannot. Whether it is prayer in a journal or the Great American Novel, letters to the one we love or passion to write for a cause, every writer has an unquenchable need to paint pictures for the mind’s eye, to draw portraits for the soul.

    Trina L. Grant | Professional Freelance Writer´s last blog post..Five Tips for Interactive, Engaging Blogging

    1. My goodness, you write beautifully, Trina!! It is indeed an “unquenchable need”. In my case, as I’m no longer singing much, I also seem to have this need to ‘sing’ for folk in my writing too!

  4. You’ll probably like this quote , Solomon:

    There are two ways of spreading light; to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it. ~Edith Wharton

    Blogging gives us the chance to do both.

  5. It is interesting I have been writing for 19 years, it was only in the last two years did I finally figure out what I could write on with passion and knowledge. Writing for my blog brings me bliss and I have no concept of time when I am working on it. My day job is that of a lawyer and when I am at the office, the day just drags.

    So for me, writing for my blog is the best feeling in the world. I absolutely love it.

    Nadia – Happy Lotus´s last blog post..Doggie In The City

    1. There’s nothing quite like that being in the flow feeling, is there! Your blog definitely captures that sense of freedom and happiness you describe. Maybe you could write a niche blog for lawyers to inspire them!

  6. Hi Janice – I just popped over from your excellent post on Write to Done. Your wonderful new blog arrived just in time, as I’m trying to find a resolution to the conflict that I have in spending so much time writing leaving me with increasingly less time to support my other house management and family duties. Your words hopefully will help me justify my commitment to the written word and the focus of my thoughts, while finding the balance needed elsewhere. Thank you.

    Almost Mrs Average´s last blog post..Oh the memories: Part 2 – April Fool?

    1. Your comment came at the perfect time! (My house is grotty and I snapped at my daughter through tiredness this morning.) I’ve loved all of the comments that have been coming in. The beauty of them arriving perfectly paced is that I’ve had a chance to really appreciate each one. I’ve also had a chance to check out a few posts by visitors and have been humbled by the range of interests and talents there. When I know why people have visited and what they’ve liked, they become part of the ‘reader’s heart’ my writing unconsciously tries to find its way home to.

      I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to root around, but I think you’d really enjoy Ebb and Flow. (It’s in categories under ‘conflict and balance’ or the click the Coaching Moments button.) You might also like Heading for Home or Missing the Boat.

      I hope you’ll visit again and share your experiences.

  7. When it’s right, you just know it’s right. And as you are drawn to certain things, and become more certain about them and more skilled in them — the money does come, because you’re in the right place, doing what you’re supposed to be doing — contributing what you’re supposed to be contributing — in your little piece of the world.

    When it’s right, you just know it’s right. And — build it and they will come. Eventually you just may make money. It may take many years, but you’ll get there. That’s my belief… Works in my life anyway.

    krissy knox
    follow me on twitter:

    1. Thanks, Krissy! I loved this: “And — build it and they will come.” I love the film ‘Field of Dreams’! That’s how I’ve felt about this blog. I had a private one last year where I practised. People kept saying just launch, go for it, but I knew in my heart I wasn’t ready. I’ve had a faint flickering feeling in the corner of my soul that tells me something new is afoot, tells me something’s been planned for me and that this blog was meant. Sounds weird, I know, but last year I simply wasn’t ready. I really do feel like this is who I’m meant to be right now, a writing obsessed, coaching obsessed homemaker, wife and mum! The amount of amazing people who’ve dropped in these last few days tells me it’s a good thing to do, the right place to be. Thanks for visiting – I hope you’ll be back!

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