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Five W’s of Writing: Why Do You Write?

WhyGraphicThis is the fifth and final article in the series, The Five W’s of Writing (Who, What, When, Where, and Why).


Writing is hard work. Have you ever asked yourself, “Why am I doing this?” Honestly, I’ve had that thought a number of times myself. Sometimes it’s a good idea to remember why you started writing and to reaffirm your calling.

Why do others write?

Early in my writing journey, I read Marlene Bagnull’s Write His Answer: A Bible Study for Christian Writers. Marlene adopted a Bible verse to remind her of her call to write (Habakkuk 2:2): “Write my answer on a billboard, large and clear, so that anyone may read it at a glance and rush to tell the others” (The Living Bible).  Her website is WriteHisAnswer.com, and her entire ministry of writing, editing, and educating other writers is based on this scripture. Others, like Sandra P. Aldrich,  say that they write because they have to, meaning they can’t not write.

What does the Bible say?

Searching the scriptures for other references to writing, I found that many reasons for a person to write are referenced in scripture.

  • To document agreements or events: I searched the word “write” on Biblegateway.com, and found a number of references to writing to commemorate a contract or agreement, most of them in the Old Testament. Actually, I was surprised to find so many instances of “write.” See the list here. Near the end of Revelation, John is told to “write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true” (Revelation 21:5).
  • To provide an “orderly account: See Luke 1:1-4. We write because we want to remember events correctly so that we can share them with others. Luke realized the importance of presenting the gospel from his point of view, knowing that others might get details wrong or misinterpret word-of-mouth accounts.
  • To communicate with others: We write to share, remember, motivate, teach, or inspire. Writing helps us leave a legacy. It helps us connect with others in a way that no other communication method can. In the words of John, the Apostle, “We write this to make our joy complete.” (1 John 1:4). See the whole paragraph here.

Why do you write?

My motivation for writing includes all of the above. I have had lots of encouragement from others, both readers and other writers. If you need help clarifying why you write, reach out to your writer friends. Ask them why they write. Then, answer the question for yourself.

Other articles entitled, “Why Do You Write?”

4 Responses to Five W’s of Writing: Why Do You Write?

  1. Tracy Crump June 9, 2015 at 9:41 am #

    Great reminder, Emily. Sometimes we have to go back to the beginning.

  2. Emily Akin June 9, 2015 at 9:57 am #

    Sometimes I think the “why” is the most important of the Five W’s.

  3. Cecelia Lester June 9, 2015 at 1:13 pm #

    Emily: I asked myself this very recently. Then another blogger asked the same question of herself and then asked those who read her. It is an important question. I am still awaiting a definitive answer as to why I write. I have been praying about it.

  4. Emily Akin June 9, 2015 at 1:34 pm #

    Cecelia, try journaling about it. Just start writing on the topic and see what develops. Just turn off your internal censor and free-write. I don’t think you have to have a mission statement or life verse like Marlene has. I think your “why” can change from time to time.

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