Why We Write

December 22, 2007

Why We Write – A Series of Essays

A message to all writers from Charlie Craig and Thania St. John, Executive Producers of the Sci-Fi Network’s EUREKA



Believe it or not, we’ve both been WGA members for more than twenty years.  Each.  That’s like four lifetimes in real job years.  Between us we’ve run, what, eight TV shows?  We’ve been busy, let’s just say that.  Busy enough that we’ve never really sat down and had a conversation on what would seem like a pretty obvious topic:


“Why do we write?” 


What led us to this rewarding and often soul-crushing line of work?  The kind of job that from the outside seems easy and fun, but from the inside has proven to be… hard and fun.  How did we get here?


Over the last six weeks we’ve finally found the time to pose this question to each other and to a lot of other writers.  The answers we’ve received have been humorous, heartfelt, complete bullshit, you name it… but in their own way each answer has been inspirational.  People we’ve known for years and people we’ve just met, Assistants and Staff Writers and Executive Producers, have shared with us the countless stories and divergent paths that somehow led each and every one of us to this same place in life: in our case, picketing in front of the Jimmy Stewart Gate at Universal.


So we had an idea.  Then several ideas later, we had what we thought was a good idea: maybe all writers would be inspired by what we’ve been hearing.  We’re facing a few long, cold holiday weeks without even the camaraderie of eating Luna Bars or the anticipation of who’s bringing their dogs to the picket lines to keep our minds occupied.  As communication with each other winds down until the new year, we thought we could do our fellow writers a service by sharing with them what we’ve heard, and what we’ve learned, from asking our simple question: why do we write?


For the next three weeks we’ll be sending you one “essay” a day, written by someone you might know, or whose TV show or movie you might have heard of.  Nikki Finke has also kindly agreed to post them for us on her site Deadline Hollywood.  It is our hope that the stories we pass on will provide you with a little lifeline to other writers over the break.  Maybe help you remember that you’re not alone.  Hell, maybe they’ll even prompt you to send us a few words on why you write: if lightning strikes, please send us your thoughts at whywewrite@gmail.com.  We will gladly keep posting these essays, even after the break, as long as you want to keep reading and writing them.  And with our thousands of talented Guild members, we should never run out of quality material. 


Tomorrow you’ll read the words of Greg Garcia, EP and creator of MY NAME IS EARL.  In subsequent days you’ll see our question answered by Steve Levitan (BACK TO YOU), Steven Peterman (HANNAH MONTANA), Carol Mendelsohn (CSI), Greg Berlanti (BROTHERS AND SISTERS), and James Duff (THE CLOSER), among many others.  We’re reaching out to the feature community as well.  Please take a moment each day to check this blog or Nikki’s website to see what your contemporaries have to say.  And, if the spirit moves you, let us know, let your fellow writers know: 


Why We Write.



  1. Best of luck to Hollywood’s striking scribes and “Boo!” on the greedy producers and film companies that refuse to realize and accept that “In the beginning was the word…”

    Writing is hard work and no one takes it on without accepting that there must be sacrifices and enormous tolls paid for the years of work (and anonymity and poverty and frustration and pain) that lie ahead. I write because if I stopped I would wither up and die. I’ve written about this in an essay called “The Solace of Fortitude” so I won’t beat my views to death. All success to my screenwriter colleagues–you deserve all you’re asking for and MORE. Hang in there…

    Comment by Cliff Burns — December 25, 2007 @ 7:05 am | Reply

  2. I’ve not had anything produced in all my years as a member of the WGAw. But that doesn’t stop me from trying. In fact, I keep trying harder and harder. I’m a firm believer that the more we picket, if necessary, the more we gain, and sooner or later, I and others like myself will get those spec scripts off the dusty shelf and “into the can”. Am I loyal to my union? You betcha!! I sit on the Writers with Disabilities Committee, and I was a previous member of the Freelance Committee, and the Age Awareness Committee. We must all take part in our Guild, otherwise it falls apart.

    In numbers there is strength and vice versa. Keep that in mind as we hand out flyers and picket the studios after the holidays.

    And drag them back to the table any way we can.

    Comment by Joel Davis — December 27, 2007 @ 12:02 pm | Reply

  3. Why weren’t any of these “Why We Write” things actually written by actual GOOD writers?

    Comment by stuntman mike — January 4, 2008 @ 3:59 pm | Reply

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