Because we have something to say, ideas to share, and emotions to express. Because we need to be heard.
Why do we read?
Is it because we want to hear what someone else has to say?
Or listen to the ideas they want to share?
Or feel the emotions they want to express?
Well, not exactly. That is, most of us wouldn't put those things at the top of the list of reasons why we read.
As writers, one of the best ways to find stories is to, "mind the gap." In the real world, friction arises where things meet. In the world of stories, conflict arises where differing expectations meet.
Did you notice the gap, or potential for conflict, here between writers and readers?
And how, in our stories, do we resolve the problem created by a gap?
Someone must bridge the gap. One or both of the parties must adjust their expectations until they're in-line with the realities of the situation.
I suppose there are writers of such celebrity that people do, truly, want to hear what they have to say simply because they say it. That's not me, and I'm willing to bet it's not you. So given that there's a gap between one writer and many readers, who needs to change?
Fundamentally that advice to stop worrying about expressing yourself as a writer and focus on delivering compelling experiences to your readers is as fundamental as Dale Carnegie's advice to talk in terms of the other person's interest. Your readers only care about what's in it for them.
Editor Victoria Mixon expressed the difference between expression and experience in a post on the Write to Done blog:
Writing fiction isn’t expressing yourself, it’s creating an experience for your reader.
And yet we all write because we love it. Right? I’m not sitting here at my desk thinking about you. I’m actually sitting here thinking about me, about the fact that I know something important and I want you to get a kick out of learning it from me. Which leads me inevitably to admit that the reader is the only one in this relationship who counts. I might very well have something you need, but if you don’t want it I’ve done all this work for nothing. Not only that, but you’re not here just for what I know, you’re here for the experience of learning it, and even more than that you’re here for the indescribable magic that happens when you find yourself sandwiched between what you’re learning and how you feel about learning it. That’s the magic that changes a reader’s life. And the writer’s job is working that magic.
Deren blogs daily at The Laws of Making.