A Strange Breed, Are We Writers

And Why That’s a Very Good Thing

Robyn Sinead Sheppard
6 min readMay 14, 2020


Photo of ink bottle and calligraphy pen.
Photo by Fang-Wei Lin on Unsplash

Thin-skinned, overly-sensitive, empathetic, brave, frightened, insecure, self-confident — name any pair of contradicting adjectives, and that’s who we are as writers.

People often ask (far too often, in my opinion) in Facebook writing groups, “Why do you write?” There are several variations on this theme — “What’s your motivation for writing?” — but they all come down to “Why?”

I submit there are as many reasons for writing as there are writers.

Why Do I Write?

Damn it all; I wish I knew. My usual answer is that I can’t not write. Something inside me needs it. I’m 69 years old, and I’ve been writing for at least 60 of those years. It’s a habit, an obsession, a need every bit as strong as the need to eat or breathe or drink.

I don’t know where it comes from!

And I don’t care. All I know is that I write because I have to write. Oh, I suppose I could dress it up and say something profound like, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read it.” And yes, that’s a valid reason.

But I’m more concerned with writing than I am with why. And I think that that, as Winnie-the-Pooh would say, is a Good Thing.

There are a finite number of hours in a day. We all have the same amount of them: 24. Some of them are untouchable, that is, they are dedicated to whatever it is we do to survive: hunting, fishing, and gathering, aka our jobs. Some of us have to spend more of our time doing that, and some of us less.

I’m fortunate in that I’m retired and no longer have to work at a job. So I have more hours to do the things that I want to do. One of those things is writing. It is my primary source of enjoyment. So much so that I even define myself as — among other things — a writer.

But I’m also a woman, a mother, sister, grandmother, and a cook. Who or what I call myself depends on what I’m doing when I’m asked; I don’t spend time thinking about it.

What I do spend time doing is writing. For me, that covers many territories: the physical act of writing, thinking about writing, staring at the ceiling, and looking out the window, drinking a cup of tea…



Robyn Sinead Sheppard

A happily retired technical writer, I write in order to understand what I'm thinking. I'm walking wounded from the Sexual Revolution.