Writing Is Like…


A little over two weeks ago, a meme started appearing. It’s a simple one, that asks the participant to fill in this sentence: Writing is like…

Both Joel Kirkpatrick and Darcia Helle have asked me to answer. And while I originally posted a short answer to Joel over at his GoodReads blog (does anyone read those on a regular basis?), once Darcia came around asking a second time, I figured I’d need to answer it here. For everyone to see.

My answer to Joel was “Writing is like breathing.”

I say that often when asked about my writing and my need to write. It’s always been this way for me; others need to breathe. I need to write.

I remember being in graduate school and going over to my cousin’s house one night for dinner. Being there for dinner wasn’t unusual; I was around often. It was that she turned to me and said, “What are you working on in the book? You’re awfully cranky. Is it a fight scene?”

By Jove, she was right.

I’ve also heard, “You’re cranky. When was the last time you wrote?” Or, “You’re in a good mood. Get a lot of pages written today?” (Yeah, that was my pre-kid, Pre-Facebook/Twitter years when I routinely wrote 8-10 pages a day. I miss those days.)

It’s more than a mood equalizer, though. Writing is what I do. It’s who I am. It’s my drive to get out of bed in the morning and it’s usually the last thing I think about — well, my characters and their story, not the act of writing so much — before I go to bed. My characters live with me. You guys aren’t surprised to hear this. You’re expecting it because my characters live with you, as well (and thank you for allowing them into your lives).

Writing is the essential part of me. It’s what I now offer to people in search of help. “Do you need a writer?” or “You know, you can call on me and my writing skills. I’m here if you need anything.” It used to be I’d say, “What do you need?” Now it’s focused. “Let me write for you.”

“Writers write,” I tell people with a shrug. My local Boy Scout district and The Boy Band’s Troop are full of men who thank me for stepping up and offering to write things like Court of Honor ceremonies and press releases.

It’s who I am and it’s what I do.

You can say the same thing about the need and act of drawing air into one’s lungs. It’s what we do. It’s how we survive, how we cope when things get stressed. We inhale. Hold it. Exhale. We use it to shape our day, our lives, our activities.

Thus, writing is like breathing.

(I’m supposed to tag someone, but if you’re a writer, have at it. Drop me an link and I’ll post it here.)
Look! Robin at My Two Blessings took me up on the offer.



  1. Jason McIntyre

    July 2, 2011 10:26 am

    Agreed, Susan. Totally and completely.

  2. Darcia Helle

    July 2, 2011 11:11 am

    Well said, Susan. Asking us why we write is like asking anyone why he/she breathes. The very act sustains life.

    I had to laugh at your story about your cousin picking up on your mood being related to your writing. I’m guilty of that, as well. Writing is a mood-altering drug. 🙂

  3. Alice Audrey

    July 2, 2011 5:47 pm

    For me, writing is dancing.

  4. Robin

    July 2, 2011 8:28 pm

    For me, writing is like diving into a rushing river and seeing where it takes me.

  5. Mari Juniper

    July 2, 2011 9:10 pm

    Jesus Christ! It’s good to see you’re still here and well (talking like that about writing and all). I was worried! Did you get my emails?

    As to your post, it’s amazing! It’s aligned with a guest post by Kevin J Mackey back at randomities, but in a different sense. There, he tells why he writes. Link tehttp://bit.ly/KevinJM_guestxt I think my reasons are a mix between yours and his, if I dare say so. ;P

    Will you email me back? I hope everything is okay with you. <3

  6. Matt Syverson

    July 3, 2011 6:28 pm

    For me writing is like entering my mind and exiting on the other side.

  7. Joy Renee

    July 14, 2011 3:50 am

    I lurked on your site Gollum-like for over an hour in the wee hours of Wednesday trying to catch up with what’s up here. Lot’s! I see.

    I don’t know why it’s been so long that I didn’t even know you’d moved your blog. It must have been around the time of my Mom’s broken hip and stroke when the rhythms of my life were totally syncopated for months and then settled into different ones entirely.

    Anyway this post haunted me for hours as I listed possible answers in my head and finally started listing them and then…Shazam! I had a poem.

    I sorta misremembered the phrase tho, losing ‘like’. And I couldn’t settle on a single answer. In fact I had another six or seven answers in my list but made myself stop writing the verses after twelve.

    Maybe it’s significant that my first impulse answer was ‘dreaming’
    “Writing is dreaming,
    taking you away to other
    where, giving glimpses into
    that expanding vastness that
    is your spirit.”

    Your answer was right on tho. I identify with that. Also the mood swings in a tango with writing.

    Hope all is well with you and yours.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *