Let’s look at the question, “Why write?” There are many reasons in which people choose to write, too many to list here. However, in the following pages you will find a categorization of the main reasons authors choose to transfer their thoughts from their mind to paper.
To begin, we will start with writing to record a memory. This is one of the most common motives for people to write. There are two types of recording memories, keeping a journal and writing a memoir. Both accomplish same purpose, preserving the memory for future reference and bringing some sort of order to the experience.
The act of keeping a journal is for personal reflection. Many refer to a journal in the same manner they refer to a diary, but they are two separate forms of writing. A diary is a daily accord of the events that happened, whereas a journal will include reflections and observations of the events. Journals give somewhat of a snapshot into the time in which it was written.
Memoir appropriately comes from the Latin word for memory. The focus is usually on the writer’s experiences with a person, place, or event. In comparison to a journal, the main difference lies in the intended audience. A journal is for the writer only, while a memoir is written with the purpose of communicating the memory to others. In ‘Finishing School’ by Maya Angelou, she writes a memoir to tell of her upbringing as a black child being taught white female etiquette. Here, her intentions of the piece is to give an understanding of what it was like for her as an underprivileged slave child to interact with her white peers in the 1930’s.
Writers write to explore the self. To most, this is the easiest form of self-discovery. While this purpose is somewhat similar to writing to record memories, the emphasis is different. The writing is produced to give a medium to look into your past, present, and even future. You can mediate on your feelings or examine relationships. In the end, it will provide the writer a deeper knowledge and understanding of themselves.
Writers write to explore an idea. Here, the work is written only for personal uses, to aid the writer in discovery of yet unobtained thoughts and ideas. It is much like thinking out loud, just without the oral effort. Usually, the writing is without structure. It resembles Freud’s free association in many ways, you start at nothing and a chain of thoughts will lead you to a conclusion.
Writers write to interpret information. It is used to tell the why’s and the how’s. Information is presented within the work to reveal what isn’t readily apparent to the audience. Why is Africa a desert? How did it become a desert? These are the types questions in which the answers will be explained to the audience in a descriptive, analytical way giving facts, interpretations, and definitions.
Writers write to amuse others. The purpose is to bring pleasure others, making them laugh or smile. Humor, the most often used form of amusement, is a great tension breaker poking fun at things we all make fun of but would greatly miss if abandoned. Satire is another form of amusement, and personally my favorite. It is used to point attention at the flaws of society through a sometimes comical, sometimes cruel reference. One of my personal favorite satirical works is ‘A Modest Proposal’ by Jonathan Swift. In this, he solves the burden of the growing number of Irish children by suggesting the more affluent population eat them.
Writers write to persuade others. This persuasion can range from simple advertising to scholarly arguments. Whether you are applying for a job, trying to sell personal items, or maybe placing a personal ad, you are trying to convince others to do something you want. With all situations, and probably the reason you are writing to persuade rather than to explain, you will face opposition. Whether you are writing to respond or attack, the focus of the paper will remain the same, to make people do what you want.
What I have outlined is just a large categorization of writers reasoning to put thoughts to paper. A guideline as to why someone writes hasn’t been created, and definitely will never be. A writer writes for numerous reasons ranging from making a convincing argument to making a shopping list. All do one thing. The work created serves the purpose the author intended to. So write, I say.