General Question

wundayatta's avatar

Do you write to be read or do you write to think?

Asked by wundayatta (58599points) January 6th, 2011

It’s an artificial duality, of course, so feel free to add other reasons, but do consider your motivation in writing. I think for some people the foremost motivation must be to communicate to others. Maybe that’s most people.

Others, I think, write so they can figure out what they are thinking. For that motivation, I don’t think it matters so much whether others read you or not.

Where do you fit if you have to choose one or the other? Whatever you choose, does it work? Do you keep bleeding over from one to the other? Look deep in your writing soul and tell me what you see.

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17 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

Both. If you make me choose, mostly to be read. Heard.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

When I am moved to write something in a passionate manner, I write to be read. When I write on Fluther, I mostly write to be read but also write to work through certain issues, for myself.

Pandora's avatar

Depends on what I am writing. Sometimes I will write to think if my thoughts on something don’t seem clear. If I am writing, like on fluther to answer someones question than it is certainly to be read.
Sometimes I may even write just to remind myself of something. :)

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

To be read. I don’t enjoy writing, and it doesn’t help me think. I’ve never thought, ooooh, I need a new journal (although I have thought “that’s a pretty journal, and I’m sure if I buy it I’ll find a use for it other than writing…”) or decided to decline an invite out with friends to stay home and write. It’s just not my thing.

CaptainHarley's avatar

I write to communicate to others. I talk with others to help me think, to bounce ideas off of them.

6rant6's avatar

I always imagine that someone I care about and whose opinion I value will be reading it and commenting on it. It’s not so necessary that it happens that way, but it’s the best motivator for me.

I can’t say I write purely to figure things out. I get to caught up in the nuances of expression to get it done in any reasonable time.

SavoirFaire's avatar

I write to be corrected.

Marchofthefox's avatar

I really do write.

iphigeneia's avatar

I start out writing to be read, but the thinking I do while writing usually ends up taking over and I end up chucking the thing out because nobody wants to read about my thoughts: show, don’t tell.

Coloma's avatar

I write here for the fun of it and the diversity of contribution.

I write for myself, for the fun of it.

I write for others to read, which makes me happy. ;-)

krose1223's avatar

I write a lot to communicate my feelings… Sometimes when my husband and I are having an issue it’s so much easier for me to write it out than to vocalize what’s happening in my head… It usually helps prevent an unnecessary fight.

I also need to write to organize my thoughts. Sometimes I just have so much going on inside this head of mine that I can’t think straight… When I need to work out a problem I write things down. I also do it to work on my “self talk.” Something my therapist got me into a long time ago and I really liked it.

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lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@CaptainHarley That’s what I was going to say…i mean write ;)

Cruiser's avatar

I write to clarify thoughts. I edit a lot when I write and that helps me get it right when I write.

wundayatta's avatar

I think I started out writing to be read, but somewhere along the way I discovered that by writing, my thinking developed. In speech, it’s more like shooting from the hip, and anything could come out, but writing forces some kind of discipline in how I think. I’m sure everyone will laugh at that, but that’s what it does for me.

Sometimes people tell me that they like my “essays.” They might say that an essay is well-written. It mystifies me a bit as to how that is possible, because when I start, I never know where I’m going to end. Which is why I write to think. Yet, somehow, I must know the points I want to cover and where I want to end. Or do I? If I write to think, then I don’t know where I will end up and I’m not quite sure where I want to go or what route I will take.

But somehow, these pieces of writing often end up somewhere satisfying or complete—or that’s what I think. No one ever said so. I think I write until I am satisfied with where I happen to be. That satisfaction is somewhat arbitrary. I could stop here, for example, or I could take a few steps more because I know there’s something else I want to say, although I don’t know what it is.

The process is more mysterious to me than I realized. It doesn’t feel like some external entity is feeding me words. The words that appear feel more like there is some inner secretary passing on information by teletype (it’s somewhat disjointed). I have the feeling that the inner secretary knows where this is going, but until I write, I won’t know.

As everyone knows, this process can take some time, and I end up with a lot of ground covered before I end up at some resting point. I’ve wondered, in the past, if I should be shortening these pieces. Everyone likes brevity, and internet attention spans are short. So, to please the readers, I should edit. That’s when I realized I was writing to see what I think. I don’t care to edit—too much time in a place where I already spend too much time. If I don’t care enough about readers to edit, then I must be writing to think.

Still, I do want people to read what I say. So it is a challenge to write to see what I think and yet to have the journey be interesting enough that others want to take a ride on the carriage. For me, that means I have to tell a story—a story that has an unknown and unpredictable ending (or stopping place, at least).

I do the same thing in real life. I participate in a number of situations where people take turns talking, and I always challenge myself to talk about what I want to talk about but in such a way that people can understand where I want to go (I hate it when people tell meandering and apparently pointless stories), but can’t figure out where I will get to. They can’t do this, because, as with writing, I don’t even know where I’m going. So I talk until it ends. The story ends, I mean. It almost always does, and it does it in such a surprising way that I never could have planned it. So it’s like I’m watching myself and I know the story will go along until I see a point that wraps it up, and then I press the stop button, and look around to see who’s still with me.


Of course, when writing, it’s a bit harder to see who is still on the carriage.

[No really. STOP!]

[Sometimes the button doesn’t work so well ;-)]

[I said S T O P!!!

cockswain's avatar

Great question. Both, for certain. Sometimes writing helps me solidify my thoughts on a subject. Most of the time I’m writing with the hope my thoughts provide some level of useful value or humor for others.

Roby's avatar

Right now as a beginning writer I write to be read, however I sometimes feel I am writing to think also when my creative juices are flowing…I tend to think deeply on my articles content.

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