Why I write

Isti Marta Sukma, M.A.
4 min readMay 24, 2024

A version of mine, I’ve just read the one by Orwell.


Unlike Orwell, who started writing at an early age, I didn’t come from a ‘peaceful’ or ‘serene’ background. Brought up in a typical Indonesian family with many siblings, I never actually had moments of serenity.

I was an active child who was very much into art. I drew, played drama with my friends, read comics, and watched TV. I never actually envisioned myself as a writer as a child. I always, however, pictured myself as a teacher.

I found it interesting how they had their own desk, stacks of books, how they could group us, protect us and generally dictate us into doing something useful for our future. Somehow, I admired that ‘class- contract’ I had with my teachers and always wondered how to be in their position.

Orwell puts “why writers write” into four cathegories:

  1. Sheer Egoism: According to Orwell, writers seek recognition, revenge, and lasting fame, similar to other ambitious professionals (politicians, lawyers, etc.). Unlike most people who abandon individual ambition by thirty, writers persist in their personal pursuits.

I started taking writing seriously in university. In school, I was quite a vocal person, participating in debates and similar activities. However, in university, I began writing essays and developed a serious interest in history and political debates. It was during this time that I started to find my political core and identify ideas that intrigued me.

I must agree, that I write, to a certain extent, for the pursuit of ‘remembrance’. I would like to be remembered for my ideas, writings, and research. “Writing to make an impact” might seem naive, but I mostly write out of my concerns, which are often ‘facts’ yearning to be revealed, as Orwell stated in his book.

Revenge? Come on, I am better than that ;) But seriously, haven’t we all been hurt in one way or another at some point in our lives? It’s not just about people mistreating us but also about institutions, perhaps?

For me, my failure to secure a national scholarship was a significant turning point. I’ve never felt so much hatred within me, and I just wanted my nation to see me succeed, without any of their help. Turns out it is the biggest fuel that took me THIS far. I want to be great, by my own, for my own.

2. Aesthetic Enthusiasm: According to Orwell, writers appreciate beauty in the world and language, finding joy in well-crafted prose and storytelling. Even technical writers have aesthetic preferences.

English is my second language, and it can be a little intimidating at times. I don’t relate to my mother tongue as much; I find its style quite ‘radical.’

I hesitate to use formal Bahasa, or Bahasa in general, as much as possible.

Perhaps I want only a small number of people to understand me.

Maybe I don’t want to connect with something that hits so close to home, which is my mother tongue.

I love theories. I always try to theorize my thoughts, from psychoanalysis and philosophy to politics. I enjoy connecting the dots between different areas of knowledge, and that’s how I become more ‘untouchable.’

It is my superpower to connect these dots because I read everything. It’s part of my way to rationalize the beings and experiences around me.

3. Historical Impulse: According to Orwell, writers aim to record and preserve the truth for future generations.

In essays, blogs, and opinions, we all have our own version of the truth. I, too, write down my own version sometimes.

For many, including the over 50 percent of people who voted for Gibran Rakabuming in 2024, they see a victory of the people and the final continuation of great plans for becoming a great Indonesia. I see disgrace. But that’s my truth.

Scientifically, I write in research, which is the objective truth. Truth that has been studied scientifically.

I think balancing both worlds really makes life meaningful.

4. Political Purpose: According to Orwell, writers seek to influence societal views and direction, with every work carrying some political bias. The notion that art is apolitical is itself a political stance.

This is definite. But many writers will negate it. Writing is political. We influence others by bringing up new facts, new data, new opinions, and new ways of thinking.

To be a writer is to be ready to be subjected to political scrutiny. It does not matter how much we negate this; we need to know that once we publish something, it may influence the opinions and thoughts of others.

Many thinkers are not good writers, and many writers are not good thinkers. Some excel at both, but that’s rare.

I aspire to be good at both, to bring new ideas into paragraphs.

That’s my goal.

I recommend this book for everyone :) espesially for those who write.



Isti Marta Sukma, M.A.

Interdisciplinary researcher based in Warsaw. I write political science, tech, security, psychoanalysis and philosophy.