National Writing Project

Jen Bryant: Why I Write

Summary: Jen Bryant writes for many reasons, not least of which are the moments of transcendence that make the results more than just the sum of the efforts.


Jen Bryant

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Writing—for me, anyway—is 98% work. But it's GREAT work...and there's that 2% that I can't really explain, the particular magic that makes the rest of it more than the sum of the squiggles on the page. So, why DO I write? There are so many reasons!! Here are just a few:

  • I write to stop time—to capture a moment, an hour, a day, a week, a century.
  • I write to inhabit someone else's skin—to slip inside another being's body and soul and to see what that feels like.
  • I write to understand where I've been, where I am now, and (possibly) where I'm going.
  • I write because, ever since I was able to read on my own, I've admired and revered the women and men who created my favorite works of literature. Writing is my way of staying close to them.
  • I write to clarify what I believe and what is most important to me.
  • I write because it calms me.
  • I write because it excites me.
  • I write because I've learned something I'm dying to share with everyone else.
  • I write because the right words in the right order create both music and pictures.
  • I write to go deeper into a place—to explore and to interact with a particular landscape.
  • I write because it's a habit that's inseparable from who I am.

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