Why do we write? I’ll answer that as soon as I’m back from vacation

Me in vacation mode. Yeah, it's not pretty...
Me in vacation mode. Yeah, it’s not pretty…
Welcome to Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing, that time each week when I scoop the coffee beans of writing wisdom that have been slow-roasted over 15 years as a columnist, grind them up, brew and filter it while making a loud “Whhhshhhhhhhhrrrrrr” sound from the corner of my mouth, scrape the resulting coffee creation into a mug, and then offer it to you to enjoy before running across the street to grab myself a mocha latte from Starbuck’s.

It’s a weekly feature Publishers’ Digest has called “…Tips similar to a triple espresso, leaving writers shaky and a little paranoid.”

Or what The Master of Horror® Stephen King heralded as “…Another reason I drink Earl Gray.”

But enough accolades!

Let’s face it, most people don’t understand why we do what we do as writers. The average person, if given a choice between writing a 250-word essay or having their bare butts tased, will have their pants around their ankles before you can say “AAAAGGGGHHHHH!” Still, thanks to social media there are more people than ever tapping on keyboards. But let’s say the Internet permanently crashed tomorrow because of some catastrophic failure — such as a leaked Brad and Angelina sex tape. Most people, once they stopped staring at a blank monitor, wouldn’t grab a note pad and keep writing without social media.

But writers would.

The question is why? The money? Prestige? Free wine at writers group meetings? Sure, those are all good reasons, although the majority of writers must “supplement” their writing income with a second job, such as working 40 hours a week prestigiously restocking the shelves at Walmart. And that free wine at writers group meetings? It usually comes from a box. Whether as a hobby, a pursuit of passion or for a living, we write because we can’t not write. It is a part of our psyche; it is an integral part of who we are; it is an extension of ourselves that defines us as individuals, much like Nicki Minaj’s hair extensions; without them we’d just be another leggy female rapper singing with Perfect-Pitch enhancement.

Ok, maybe not exactly like that, but you get the point. We write for the same reason we breathe: Because it’s engrained in us in order to remain alive.

Unlike the literary horse I just beat to death.

So why am I bringing this up? For a couple of reasons. The first is because I am going on vacation for two weeks beginning this Sunday. And though that actually has nothing to do with this post, it just seemed important to mention here since I will be sleeping in, drinking margaritas before 10 a.m. and living a care-free existence for 14 days.

And you won’t be.

That’s unless you are Ross Murray who, like all Canadians, lives that way every day thanks to the metric work system.

Fine. That’s not entirely true. I’ll probably wait until noon before having any margaritas. Why? Because I will be working on an eBook release of Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing.

WOAH! EVERYONE CALM DOWN! You’re scaring the cat.

As I mentioned last month, I’ve been thinking about putting together all of the last couple of years’ NWOWs into an eBook, which would allow me to expand a bit more on some of the topics I felt — like my last hair cut — got cut a little short. My goal is to make it as much about writing tips as it is a writer’s survival guide offering insights, inspiration and the occasional kick in key strokes we all need sometimes as writers. Though the eBook version of Humor At the Speed of Life was recently released, my publisher took care of it. This will be my own venture and I will be learning as I go.

Or to put it another way, I have no idea what I’m doing and may start drinking as early as 7 a.m. before this is over. I will also be posting a couple of handpicked NWOWs to re-run for the next two Fridays so folks who recently started following (Hey, Homeland Security!) can get an idea of what the NWOW is all about.

I know what you’re thinking, but I feel obligated to let them know what they’re getting into.

In addition, even though I’ll be on vacation, I will continue to write blog posts and offer updates on my NWOW progress because — Hey, I’m a writer!

And a leggy one, if I do say so myself.

(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available from Port Hole Publications, Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.)


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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

28 thoughts on “Why do we write? I’ll answer that as soon as I’m back from vacation”

  1. it is so true… and the mention of an essay made me think about an assignment I had in class… I got a teacher I’ve taken a lot and most of our stuff have word limits but I was talking to her 1 day about it and she told me I could always go over the word limit… that the limits were really for her average students… she mentioned the 500-750 word essay she had just assigned… she said the top students will do closer to 750, the non english majors will usually do more in the 500… and she was like out of a 10 person class she had 3 students who turned in essays that weren’t even 500 words… and I thought that was the craziest thing… I mean I was struggling to keep my points under the 750 word limit… and there were people who couldn’t even make it 500… and sadly that was her easy assignment because most of the time it’s at least has to be over a 1000… but I love writing so much and I can just go and go and it feels strange sometimes to think that there are people out there if given the choice would never write another word again… unless you count a quick text message… it’s like that time when someone was telling me that if my book does good then of course I should be a writer but if not then I should just move on to other things… like I could just quit writing… obviously as you said I do have to have another job… writing will most likely never pay my bills… but I could never give it up … and some people will just never understand that…

    1. You sound like me in middle school, when we would be assigned 10 spelling words to use in a story and I would come back with seven pages of story written on notebook paper. And let me just say I am very glad to know you could never give up writing 😉

  2. Lots of reasons to celebrate here, Ned!

    *Your great tips in an eBook
    *Margaritas before 10:00 (I assume you’re okay with us doing that part, too?)

    I love what you’ve written here. I’ve used the same phrase when people ask me why I write, “Because I can’t NOT.” I’d never thought about what that might look like without social media and it was so interesting to ponder your perspective. Would I write without a social media platform? Yep! You bet your sombrero I would!

    Have a fantastic and well-deserved vacation! Keep us posted on your eBook release…and oh, another idea just came to mind. How about including your publishing (traditional and electronic) experiences in a future NWOW feature?
    You know me. I like to keep you busy!!

    BTW: I thought I was the leggy writer in this friendship 😉

    1. It seems there are two types of people in the world:
      Writers who can not, and writers who can’t NOT. I for one am very glad you are the latter.

      I plan to partake in more than my share of margaritas, which means there should be plenty to go ’round, so feel free to help yourself.

      And as for our leggy friendship, you will always have a leg up in that department. I’d say two legs up, but it sounds a bit suggestive… 😉

      Thanks for the NWOW idea, by the way. It’s definitely on my radar of ideas, which 50 percent of the time seem to have your hand in it somewhere! 😉

  3. Have a swell vacation. I’m one of your two fans here in Florida, and I can honestly say that I write for fun. I make me laugh. You make me laugh but I’m with me all day every day. When it’s no longer fun, then will be the time to put down the keyboard. Enjoy yourself. Lucy

  4. Random shout-outs! I love random shout-outs.
    Good luck with the ebook. Are you processing the thing yourself? Is that the right word: “processing”? “Giving birth”? “Belabouring”?

    1. I think the technical term is “hemorrhaging.”

      And I’m always happy to give you a “Shout At!”
      Oops, I mean “Get Out!”
      Yikes! I mean “Shout Out!”

  5. Have a wonderful vacation with your match.com wife (;-D) and if you need a proof reader for the ebook, this Canadian is game and I promise I won’t dribble maple syrup on it.

    1. Thanks so much, and I know my Match.com honey and I will enjoy the tome together. As for the eBook, I truly appreciate your and would take you up on it but would be afraid of all the Canadian spelling errors (humour, harbour, etc…) 😉

  6. Happy Vacay my friend! I know, it’s probably not the proper spelling but it sounds like it should be spelled this way & it is way more cool than just saying Happy Vacation….over & out!

  7. The only time I don’t want to write is when I’m reading & even then (if it’s a really good book) I want to take my highlighter to the page to remind myself to “write like this!”

No one is watching, I swear...

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