“The only reason for being a professional writer is that you just can’t help it.”  ~Leo Rosten

I came across this quote on another blog, and it struck a chord.  It proved to be exactly what I needed to get me started on a topic that’s been trying to work its way out of my head and into a post.

Creative people – writers, artists, crafters, photographers – create because they have to.  Okay, I can’t speak for all creative people, but I do know enough of them to speak for a handful or two.  We can’t not create, whether we’re doing it with words, images, scraps of paper, or glittering beads – it doesn’t matter.  Even if we’re not getting paid for our efforts, we are driven to do something.

Most people would term this “having a hobby.”

hob-žby  enjoyable activity   an activity engaged in for pleasure and relaxation during spare time


I suppose.

But the creative process is not necessarily always enjoyable or relaxing.  It takes sweat and tears, sacrifice, risk of failure, and can raise you up to the heights or send you crashing to the depths.  Which begs the question, “Then, why do it?”

For the answer, go back to the beginning quote.

We. Can’t. Help.  It.

We don’t wait for “spare time”.  (Does anyone really have that?)  We make time.  We carve minutes out of our day that we could spend doing something else, like being with family, eating, or watching a movie.  Not because we don’t enjoy those things, but because we’re driven to answer the call.  Writers live in their heads, writing even when paper or computers aren’t handy.  Artists will sketch on napkins or the backs of envelopes.  Photographers frame images with their fingers even when their camera isn’t handy.  We know no other way.

I sometimes wonder how the other half lives.  I have a pretty good imagination but the one thing I can’t wrap my head around is not having that inner drive to create something.  To do something.  Oh, that’s not to say I don’t have down time where I try to ignore the characters running rampant in my brain pan.  But never having the itch to get their story down?  To paint an image of their world?  I don’t know if I’d ever want to experience that.

I hope I never have to.



12 responses

  1. What a wonderful post. The life of a writer is indeed intense and driven. Tennessee Williams said, “Writers age more quickly than athletes.” And it’s true!

    November 29, 2011 at 2:03 pm

  2. So true! Love that quote, and also the athletes one – great stuff :))


    November 29, 2011 at 11:45 pm

  3. CJD

    Great post, Kathi! It’s nice to be around people who have a similar desire to actually achieve something creative in their lives, and not settle for less than that.

    November 30, 2011 at 2:28 pm

  4. Do you know, I’ve never considered that last question – about how the other side lives. To even consider it seems to leave a big empty void…I wonder how they fill it?

    November 30, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    • TV, the bar scene, video games, more TV . . . I don’t know but I’m thinking it would be similar to a frontal lobotomy! And, as my father always said, “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.”

      November 30, 2011 at 5:44 pm

  5. Thanks for adding to the conversation on my post yesterday. We were obviously thinking similar thoughts! My response to your comment there mentions publication isn’t necessarily the only destination for a writer’s journey, and that may be the difference between satisfaction and discontent. But I suspect it also has something to do with Type A and B personalities. Some people aren’t driven to do anything … they’re more easy-going and seem to drift into their achievements without a lot of passion. I wouldn’t want to trade places with them, but I’ll bet their lives have a lot less stress! LOL!

    December 1, 2011 at 11:44 am

  6. Amen to that one!

    December 2, 2011 at 12:17 am

  7. Everything you say here is true. I wish sometimes that I chose a million-dollar career and found a way to retire at 30 with 5 different cars, my regular mansion and my getaway mansion. But I can’t get away from writing. It’s a compulsion to go on and on despite criticism, lack of sleep, sanity and the need to spend time with other humans. Oh well I’ll keep going til I can make a career out of it and I’ll have an excuse for my craziness.

    December 9, 2011 at 6:38 am

  8. How very true! Why do we do it? I don’t have an answer other than it’s a compulsion, like breathing and eating. Sleeping I can do without. Thanks for liking my blog, come by again 🙂

    December 9, 2011 at 7:29 am

  9. Great post! and great writing. I love “We carve minutes out of our day…” This is how I feel about it too. You nailed it! Thanks for sharing. 😀

    July 10, 2012 at 5:44 am

  10. Great post, Kathi!

    Thanks for stopping by my world. I’m looking forward to reading more of yours.



    August 2, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    • Love your site, Doug. Congrats on your excellent showing in the world of disc throwing. I’m not the best at that, just ask my dogs!

      August 2, 2012 at 5:13 pm

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