Why Write? Why Teach?

One of my students asked, “Why do you teach writing? You must have better things to do than teach this course over and over. Is it worth it?”

handwritten letterThe answer is yes, certainly. But it’s a good question. Why do writers write or teach? Because everyone who wants to write is worth the effort. A person struggling with writing who crosses my path is, for me, a “spark of light” I am required (by my beliefs) to foster and encourage.

I was given the gift of being a writer, but it comes with the knowledge that I stand in a long line of writers who catalog, comment on and witness the world, throughout time.

The same gift was given to a caveman in Lascaux, and she drew horses running to express herself. That was writing before words. Thousands of writers stand in that line, past and present and into the future. Standing in that line is a comfort, but it requires me to add to the line. That’s why I teach writing and that’s why it brings me so much satisfaction. I actually know my purpose in life. Writing makes meaning for my life. And, as I’ve said so often, we don’t find meaning in life, we make meaning. For me, writing makes meaning out of emptiness, confusion, beauty, anger.

How can I not invite another writer into the line and offer comfort and assurance that writing is a way to make sense of your inner journey, which is so hard and steep? I would not honor my talent if I ignored another writer.

And I do believe that writers are born that way. I am tone deaf, but my son is a gifted musician. I took piano lessons for seven dreadful years and never got past The Happy Farmer. No one could teach me to be a musician that anyone wanted to listen to. I can help a non-writer express themselves clearly, and I can help a good writer become a better writer. But I can do little for those who hate writing and don’t want to express themselves. But there are so many who do want to write, and just need a different viewpoint to get started.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer and certified creativity coach who designs and teaches workshops in writing and journal-keeping. See her work at QuinnCreative.com