Saturday, February 2, 2013

Why do I write?

In the Script Newsletter they have a regular column which asks this question. Various ITAA members have answered it so I thought I would give it a go as well.

Over the years I have had people who are wanting to write an article ask me, “How do you start to write?” I just don’t understand that question. The problem for me is not how to start but how to stop.


I recall being 13 or 14 and I kind of got my first girl friend. I then spontaneously started to write her love letters because that is what you do, or at least I thought that is what you do. Over time however I discovered that my peers did not do the same. In fact I could not find one who did the same thing. I recall feeling that I was a bit odd and wondered, “Why wouldn’t you write such letters?”. However this, as I said made me feel a bit strange so I stopped writing them.

Then in late high school I studied literature and we had various writing exercises from time to time. I did them all in this exercise book which eventually never left my side and it became kind of my friend. It was not really a diary but a place where I wrote my homework exercises and would write other things that I thought about. I even wrote some fantasy short stories I thought up. Fiction writing has never really appealed to me. It’s OK but it did not really hold any great interest for me. But I can recall having that exercise book and it was kind of quite important to me at the time. I wish I still had it but it got lost some where along the way.

In my early twenties I began studying psychology at university and I discovered that I would get all these ideas about psychology and philosophical stuff. When I read something I would get lots of ideas about it. Different ways of looking at what I was reading or combining different ideas about the same subject to arrive at a different conclusion and so forth. Also I have never read a book from cover to cover, particularly psychology books. I only read sections at a time that are of current interest to me or something I have an idea about.  Then I will go to another book or journal article on the same topic and read what they have to say. I may end up reading the whole book but it is only section by section over time and in any order that interests me at the time.


After a bit of time I found that I was getting over loaded with these ideas in my head and actually went through a bit of a bad patch in this way in the very early days at university. So I started writing them down. These were not assignments I had to do for my degree or preparation for some exam these were outside the requirements for any formal study. I recall a few fellow students who saw some of this writing ask me why I did it to which I initially did not have an answer.

However I eventually came up with an answer of - Why do I write? It serves two functions for me. The first one is it provides me with some cathartic relief. The actual process of writing the idea out provides a sense of relief for me. It kind of gets the idea out of my head. 

Second it means I could then let the idea go. I don’t know if this sounds weird or not but I have this sense of a huge 3D spider web. Like a matrix type of thing and all the ideas are connected to each other in the matrix. Each idea has a number of links (like the 3D web) to other ideas. They are all categorized and each category is linked to other categories. 

When I first started getting these ideas I would not want to forget them because then I would have forgotten them and the link would be lost. So I got overloaded for a while as I said before. However I discovered that if I wrote them down then I had a record of them and then that part of the matrix would not be lost. I could always refer back to it as i do. Writing the idea down allowed me to let the idea go because it would not be lost. I did not have to try and keep it in my head.

Man on stilts

So that is why I write but this created another problem. As time went on what I had written started to mount up. This was before computers so I started to get a pile of papers that I had written. What was I going to do with them?

Over the years they have been complied in different ways and presented to the public in different ways. But originally I created a seminar called the Loftus Street Seminar where I had my office. It involved a series of lectures on the ideas I had thought up and eventually this resulted in a book called  “New ways in Transactional Analysis - Proceedings of the Loftus Street Seminar (Volume 1)” which was published in 1984.

There ended up being 9 volumes

New ways in transactional analysis
Transference based therapy
Creative feeling
The treatment of character
Adolescence, anger and what to do
Employee support programme
Staying alive
Psychotherapy and the art of being human

Then the internet arrived and that was like leaving a child in a candy store. It’s all about writing and now what I write can easily be presented to the world.



  1. Writing is the most beautiful form of expression and communication. If I only ever had to communicate via the written word I would be very happy. It is so much easier to say what I feel in the written form.

    When I read your post I feel happy for you to have that love of writing. The internet has been a great thing for those who write and read and love learning.

  2. I like the analogy of your ideas as a 3D spider web or a matrix with relational links. I’ve often likened my ideas to a platter of cooked spaghetti noodles that are sliding around and falling off to the floor. When I write them down, they change to lasagna - stratified and contained by a pan. I think writing forces us to define and crystalize things better; once we’ve done that, it’s all easier to remember.

  3. Yes Linda the internet has indeed changed things in writing in such a powerful way as you note. I guess we are lucky in that way. Tony

  4. KYLady, I like spaghetti metaphor that changes into more sytematic lasagna. it is funny those metaphors one thinks of isnt it? I have no idea where I thought of the idea of a 3D spider web as I imagine you are about pasta! Tony

  5. What a great article Tony. I did wonder how long you had been writing for, from my perspective you make it look effortless and easy, so it makes sense that you have been writing for a long time. I found it interesting that you stick to a particular subject and then read about that, in terms of dipping in and out of psychology books, as I share this way of working and often struggle to read through a whole book in one concentrated effort. I had no idea you had written 9 volumes of your ideas – wow! Do you know where they can be found, as they do not seem to be listed on Amazon? I would certainly be interested in reading them  Your metaphor of a 3D web was most enjoyable.

    Personally I have had some script issues with writing, any medium where I may be judged, ridiculed, and ultimately shamed, I avoided. I started challenging myself when I trained in TA back in 1999 and wrote my first essay, remembering the awareness of the struggle and attempting to stay present with my feelings of inadequacy – manifested as tears, irritability, and bouts of giving up. Last year I started writing blogs, and regularly posting on facebook, this I saw as my final stage of giving up the parts of me that I have hidden from the world in fear of being hurt. I now love writing, and I’m finding it almost ‘addictive’ too, which is both a shock and a bonus. I am also happy that this is a late development, my creativity in diagram’s and models (my compensatory expression) can now be complemented with words.

    Thanks for your post, you have presented an opportunity for me to reflect on my own growth and learning with a big smile 

  6. Hi Dena, thanx for the positive strokes about the article and I appreciate the candor in your comment. It’s good to hear that you have managed to deal with and overcome some limitations which our life scripts impose on us. A love of writing sounds like a good thing indeed. Glad the bouts of giving up were not permanent. I look forward to meeting you.

    Regarding the nine volumes. The first two volumes of 1984 & 1985 - full versions of these can be downloaded from my website. Go to

    Regarding the others, it has been some time since they were written that they go in and out of print depending on the circumstances. Since volume 9 was written in 1994 I moved more into writing in magazines and journals. That is why the the volumes stopped. Many of those articles in magazines and journals can also be downloaded from my website

    All the best to you


  7. Thanks Tony :) I look forward to reading the volumes you have mentioned. While you are still writing its kind of hard to catch up lol.

  8. OK Dena,
    I will slow down for a while


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