15 Famous Authors on Why They Write

Don DeLillo

White Noise novelist Don DeLillo wrote a letter that appeared in the April 1996 issue of Harper’s, featured in Jonathan Franzen’s article, “Perchance to Dream.” The essay explored the roles of authors, readers, and written works in America. The Cosmopolis writer — who recently had his 2003 book adapted for the screen by David Cronenberg — called writing a “personal freedom,” and dismissed any romantic notions about the profession. “It frees us from the mass identity we see in the making all around us. In the end, writers will write not to be outlaw heroes of some underculture, but mainly to save themselves, to survive as individuals.”

DeLillo expounded upon his reasons for writing in an earlier article by William Leith in 1991. “I write to find out how much I know,” he said. “The act of writing for me is a concentrated form of thought. If I don’t enter that particular level of concentration, the chances are that certain ideas never reach any level of fruition.”