Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Why I Write by R.S. Guthrie

Rob Guthrie is my first guest blogger.  I met Rob last summer through twitter, then email, and finally when he founded RABMAD (Read a Book Make A Difference - an organization of writers who donate a percentage of their royalties to charity).  Since we first met, we've become great friends, and I'm a better person because of it.  It was only natural, when I decided to try guest blogging, that Rob was my first choice playmate.

We've each blogged on the topic - Why I write.  

Here's Rob - 


Why I Write by R.S. Guthrie

When asked this question, as I was recently in being invited to guest blog on the subject with my great writer pal Bert Carson (THANKS, BERT!), it always gives me pause. Not because the reasons are too deep or dark; not because there is no answer; but rather because it’s a bit like answering the question “why do you breathe?”

Think about it.

Why do you breathe?

The answer is not, by the way, “to stay alive”—that is the reason why we must breathe. Think about why you breathe. You certainly don’t have to think about it. Breathing is triggered by an automatic response with strength relative to the level of oxygen in the environment. That’s why you don’t have to think about it. Your body just does it. Above all else, in fact.

If you’ve never heard of them, freedivers are extreme sport individuals who attempt to reach incredible depths while holding their breath (the record for men’s free immersion dive was set in 2010 at 380 feet—a breath that was held for over four minutes). The breathing response can be so strong for freedivers that ignoring the urge to take a breath becomes one of the biggest (and most critical) challenges these superhuman breather-holders face.

Well, I can’t say that my need to write is quite that overwhelming, but it really is something that has been in my bones since I can remember. It is truly an act that does help me to survive—it relaxes me; allows me to release the words that have been building up inside me, needing escape; it also causes me an adrenaline-like influx of positive thought and confidence.

Why do I write, then?


I actually wrote the following a few months ago:

“To the writer, the craft is like BREATHING. You'd never forget to draw a breath; don't forget to WRITE.”

I’ve since wanted to amend that statement. I’m no longer convinced that those who feel writing deep in their souls would be capable of forgetting to write, any more than a human being would be capable of forgetting to breathe. My previous statement implies a choice. There is no choice. If you are a writer, you need to write.

Why do I write, then?

Because I MUST.

Every person has a voice. And it’s not necessarily a vocal thing. I personally abhor public speaking. I hate doing it. It causes me stress, makes me ill—I’d just about rather do anything in this world than speak to an audience. But as a writer I want my words to be read by as many people as are willing. The dream would be thousands. Millions. So the writing is my voice; I do not require the use of my vocal chords to speak—I can do it by putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard).

Why do I write, then?

Because I have a VOICE.

Writing is a part of me. Perhaps the biggest part. And it has been for all of my life. I could no sooner be myself without writing than without my head or my heart or my hands. People cannot imagine what life would be like without those things that make them who they are. I cannot imagine being me without the words flowing. Even if I were laid up in a bed, convalescent, unable to lift my hands, bereft of the power to move a finger or so much as speak a word, I would still have to write. I would do it on the inside, upon the walls of my mind. It wouldn’t matter. The words would have to flow. The writing would have to go on, for as long as I went on.

Why do I write, then?

Because I AM writing; because writing is ME.


Check out Rob's books on Amazon
Check Rob's Blog for my thoughts on Why I Write and other great posts


  1. Thanks again for having me, Bert. No one whose thoughts on writing and life I respect more than yours, my friend! ツ

    1. Rob,
      I really appreciate you showing me this aspect of blogging.
      You are fun my friend.
      Yours to count on,

  2. Great write, Rob, and thanks, Bert, for hosting him! I think you've got it spot on, Rob. The urge is so great that ignoring it is fruitless. Whereas we used to feel naked without a pen in our hands, now it's the fig leaf keyboard! I still think you two should have a beer in your hands, singing the 12 Days of Christmas! Bob and Doug, the Titans of Toqueville!!

  3. What can I say? Rob, you already know I feel exactly the same about writing. This post has been amazing. Thanks, Bert, for hosting such a wonderful writer and friend.

  4. Thanks Rob for this insight in the creative act of writing. For a writer, Descartes's famous line "I think therefore I am" and if I understood you right, you are saying that for a writer it is: "I write therefore I am".

    Very true. I assume therefore that you've never suffered from writer's block? But have you been able to finish every story you've started? I know I haven't...I've got dozens there sitting in my drawers (those of long ago, gathering dust) or in my computer (the more recent ones). All that unfinished backlog is useful to have, something to go back to when inspiration dries up. But alas, it's not always exploitable. And when you pick up on an old unfinished story, there's a real danger of getting stuck again before finishing. At least, that's my experience.

    What about yours Rog? And Bert too, please share your thoughts and let me add thanks for giving us such an interesting guest blogger!

  5. Wonderful blog swap! "Why I write." Funny, I do it because I like to type, believe it or not (of course that's only part of the reason). I write because I know I have something to say, and I write because I want to be remembered for something. But writing is inherent in us, isn't it? Great post, Rob. :)

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