Why don’t people write?

The night before last I really didn’t get any sleep at all.  The following morning it was results day for everyone at High School – I zombie-shifted to the falafel shop to the sound of kids screeching around Um Al Summaq blowing their car horns.  It felt like nails on a chalk board.   If I had been sleeping, they definitely would have woken me up.  I got some fruit.  As usual, they overcharged me.  I didn’t like myself or the hazy headache inducing place around me.  All i knew is i had to write.

At home the electricity in half the house had broken.  The internet basically wasn’t working.  I really couldn’t think.  I went to Costa Coffee in City Mall to get a coffee, use the wireless, and try to write.  It didn’t work.  So I moved to Caribou Coffee in Mecca Mall.  It wasn’t as hot but people were talking. I just gave up and went home.  The flat was boiling.  But still, I wrote.

And that got me thinking… why do people write?  Novelists, philosophers and journalists have all had a crack at answering the question, with reasons ranging from the mundane to the profound.

But no one’s every really cracked it, as far as i know.

Which in turn got me wondering who asked the question in the first place?  Maybe the writer’s are the normal ones?  Why wouldn’t anyone want to write?  Why didn’t everyone write? I came up with the following:

  1. They have no time
  2. They have nothing to say
  3. They don’t know what they think
  4. They’re afraid of what they really think
  5. There’re embarrassed
  6. The things they really want to say they can’t
  7. It’s hard to keep it up
  8. There’re intimidated by pedants who complain about grammar, or misspelling etc
  9. They don’t think there’re clever enough – “it’s not me”
  10. They’re too busy making money
  11. They prefer talking
  12. Who would listen?
  13. They love writing, but they keep it all hidden: “what if I got rejected” or “people saw another side of me”
  14. Other writers got there first, and did it better. No point trying.
  15. The masses and publishers would never “get it”
  16. “No one reads anymore”
  17. People think you’re weird
  18. Writing is for girls
  19. Too much time watching movies and playing video games
  20. What will my friends & family think?

The list isn’t exhaustive, but it does highlight one point very clearly.  The reasons people don’t write are all pretty silly.  People don’t write from fear, laziness and the misplaced belief that they have nothing to say.

People should write.

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9 Responses to Why don’t people write?

  1. M says:

    I agree with what you said, and I also believe that people only need to take that first step of writing, and the rest will come by itself.

    Keep writing. 🙂

  2. Eyas says:

    I guess it /is/ a shame that not as much people write, especially in Jordan, the Middle East, or the Arab world. And I agree that it would probably be helpful if more of us in this region would articulate their feelings, views, opinions, or creativity, in writing — it is a magnificent field.

    But I am becoming more careful not to prescribe one lifestyle, choice, set of interests, etc. as the ideal ‘way to go’. Just like an Artist might be just as good of a path as an Engineer, just as Creativity can be just as important as Logic and Reasoning, and Athleticism just as important as Mathematics, depending on who is the person, what is their interests, and where do their goals lie.

    What I mean to say is, the 21st point should be “It isn’t their calling.”, or something of the sort. Some, instead of writing, observe the world and come up with great theories in Physics, Behavioral Psychology, and Neuroscience. Others photograph, or paint, or compose music. It can all be just as good.

    My point is, I would feel though that it is more suitable to ask “Why are people idle?”, instead of specifically describing “Writing” as the epitome of human activity.

    And I do agree with the entirety of the article, with the exception of the above stipulation. People should express, and especially in Jordan, we’d be much better off if people did.

    • shufimafi says:

      Hey thanks – i’m inclined to agree. Maybe a better post would have read ‘why don’t people express themselves’, and talked about various ways people find of doing that, and maybe why they don’t.

      I do think there are a lot of people who think about writing, but never do… but that doesn’t mean writing is the epitome of the creative arts. If people are satisfied by sports, or logic, or science then they should do that: Dante called if “following your own star.”

      Would be interesting to look at how self-expression – broadly defined – is viewed in other countries/culture’s, and the forms it’s taken over time. A lot of it seems to be happening digitally nowadays 🙂

      Anyway thanks very much for this post Eyas.

  3. Joyce Wu says:

    Why don’t people write? Nowadays people take most of time in thinking of work, money, relationship,life in more realistic way. They don’t have time to sit down and think carefully what they really want in life. What are things could really make them happy? Time flies, things are changing….

    • shufimafi says:

      Hey Joyce – i agree, too much time dreaming can be dangerous, but too much time not dreaming can be dangerous too no? Sometimes writing or reading can put a busy life into perspective: time flies and things are changing, so maybe recording it is all the more important! Anyway glad you are reading my blog – you should start one about Shenzhen!

  4. kinzi says:

    Great thoughts. I found your blog through 7iber’s fb page. I’m thinking about a similar post for them, wondering why Jordan is so journalist-unfriendly, and does not create a climate to nuture those serious about inquiry. From parents to publishers, it is an uphill battle for future writers.

    People are afraid, indeed, but I see a correlation with a lack of curiousity. Maybe even a fear of curiousity. It seems many don’t even think to ask the questions, much less write down the answers.

    Agree with Eyas, there are many other outlets for expression, but for those who love words, well, I couldn’t imagine life without writing. 🙂

    • shufimafi says:

      Hey Kinzi thanks for this. If you’re interested censorship – or “the fear of curiosity” (nice phrase btw) – you might find the current exhibitionat Makan gallery in Weibdieh interesting.

      Have added your blog to my newsreader 🙂

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