“Why do we write?” moaned my writing pal. “Why do we write when there is no market for our books?”
She didn’t really like my answer and I guess I didn’t really like giving it either.
“We write because God asks us to use our gift and our gift is writing.”
You guessed it. She didn’t like the answer. Maybe that is your thought too.
Here are explanations from other authors who struggle in exactly the same way we do.
“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” Flannery O’Connor
“Writing is my way of expressing – and thereby eliminating – all the various ways we can be wrong-headed.” – Zadie Smith
“When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.” – George Orwell
“I don’t know why I started writing. I don’t know why anybody does it. Maybe they’re bored, or failures at something else.” – Cormac McCarthy
“Why am I compelled to write? . . . Because the world I create in the writing compensates for what the real world does not give me…. Finally I write because I’m scared of writing, but I’m more scared of not writing.” – Gloria E. Anzaldúa
“Any writer worth his salt writes to please himself…It’s a self-exploratory operation that is endless. an exorcism of not necessarily his demon, but of his divine discontent.” – Harper Lee
“That’s why I write, because life never works except in retrospect. You can’t control life, at least you can control your version.” – Chuck Palahniuk
“I write because I love writing. I think I became a writer in order to explore my ideas and responses to the world around me, which I often found it difficult to share with others. Also I liked my autonomy, and a writer can choose his or her own working hours – midnight to dawn or whenever. The difficulty of becoming a writer never bothered me. I knew it was going to work for me sooner or later. And if you’re a writer you don’t have to retire but can keep on doing the thing you love till you drop off the chair.” – Alex Miller
“Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.” – Gloria Steinem
“A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom. He has no master except his own soul, and that, I am sure, is why he does it.” – Roald Dahl
Now I don’t know about your reasons but I know mine. A magazine quote I read years ago keeps me at it. “And those who never, ever write will never ever be read.” – Brenda J Wood
Note that none of these authors questioned whether they would ever sell or not. They just knew that they had to write. Maybe that is how you really know you are a writer … you just have to write and that’s all there is to it.