Why I Write
Recently, more people have publicly stated that they have seen or taken interest in my writing, for which I am humbled and appreciative. With their comments comes the usual questions of where can they find more writing, what do I like to write about, who my intended audience is, etc. But, the one question that perpetually stumps me whenever ask is “why do I write?” Usually, I provide some generic (although true) statement that I’ve always like writing, that I’ve always been decently skilled at it, etc. There’s no falsehood in those responses but they are shallow and indirect to the actual question, used more as a tool to move the topic along in a self-deprecating manner borne out of social awkwardness. However, the question of “why do I write” haunts me in a way because: 1. I feel like my writing quality has not been up to par lately; 2. Though people are noticing my writing I would like to retain the joy or “amateurism” of it; and, 3. The only way to move forward on both of those things is to first identify why I write and enjoy it in the first place in order to keep me anchored. So, let’s dive into this question together in order to see what comes out on the other side.
Starting with the generic responses that I generally give, as I previously said they are true and valid but also evasive and don’t actually answer the question that is posed. I have always enjoyed writing whether it was just repeating letters or words as a child or making lists and writing essays as a student and adult. I find writing has been relatively easy for me because of my more pragmatic and process or routine-oriented nature. I have an internal process, generally, for what I want to write about and just begin in a free-write or stream of consciousness method. Rarely do I create outlines unless it is a long academic research paper. I always write things out on pen and paper prior to typing things out. It can be hectic because my mind is shuffling through hundreds of ideas, even paragraphs ahead of the flow of my hand, so it’s a balancing act of pace, memory, and mental acuity (with many thoughts and ideas lost in the process). I write in the margins or add notes or research points with lines pointing to where they should go. It’s a sort of controlled chaos in my head with this being the rawest form. When I type the works out I can also work as self-editor, where I can catch mistakes and errors in punctuation, grammar, and spelling (but it’s an area where I can improve a lot). Then, I send it to 2–3 people that I trust to provide honest feedback and proofread. Moreover, I have been decently skilled at writing for a long time and have used it as a means to side hustle money while as a student in high school and university. But, once again, why I write has always meant more.
I guess I should have known writing would always be in my life because as a child all of the career paths that I wanted were writing-intensive — lawyer, preacher, professor, journalist, policy analyst, lobbyist, etc. But, digging a little deeper, I acknowledge that writing was and still is a way for me to address and confront my social awkwardness. As someone who has always been nerdier, more “mature,” more reserved or shy around people, writing has been a tool for regular communication. As I have improved as a writer, I have admittedly regressed in my public speaking and interpersonal communication. When speaking directly with others, I always feel an internal shot clock in my brain which confuses my analyzing processes and the words that actually come out. So, often in personal and professional settings, I want to write my notes out, review them, and then talk or write an email back with my takeaways — weird I know. In addition, texting is the primary method of contact for me because I can think and then respond accordingly. I hate talking on the phone because it makes me anxious, self-conscious, and needing to always find ways or topics to keep the conversation going. Very few family and friends call me and they know to only call me if it’s an emergency or pressing matter. I even have had entire friendships and relationships derived solely on text (to catfishing be damned). But, more importantly, writing has been an effective way for me to express my feelings via journaling and to communicate with my parents, particularly my Dad. I have journaled off and on since middle school and consistently for the past year. It has helped me remedy my anxiety and OCD triggers as well as keep me focused and serve as a time capsule of progress or regression. In communicating with my parents, I often am stuck on how to engage them or provide them updates or express emotions, and every so often I write letters or notes, mainly to my Dad, to tell him how I feel and what changes need to occur (this is usually after an argument). I feel like he responds to my writing better than any form of person-to-person communication, so I will roll with the hot hand (pun intended).
Lastly, I write because it is my form of self-therapy. As I mentioned, writing helps to alleviate my anxiety and OCD, but it also has helped save me during long bouts of depression. I have written pages in my journal on how I have felt inadequate, how I feel like I don’t measure up to my peers, or even how I feel like it has been hard to find positivity. However, I have also written about how prayer and friends have helped me, how writing releases physical and mental pent up energy — positive and negative — out and became a time capsule that charts the highs and lows of growth and techniques on how to persevere. Subsequently, writing publicly has allowed me to connect my experiences with others in an advocacy role. I take pride in that because I truly believe that if any of my writing can help folks or move ideas and actions in any way, then it is all worth it.
So, I guess my reason for writing is for all of you — to get to know me, to share ideas with me, and to know that we are in this together. I write for me too because I love it and it gives me a voice when I often feel voiceless or too out of place. I thank God for allowing me the ability to read and write because there are many without those skills and I can’t waste whatever talent I was given. I write because it keeps me sane and out of a path of despair. I write because it is helping me one letter at a time communicate with my parents. I write because I can communicate and build relationships with the friends and folks I care about. I write because it is part of, if not my entire, professional life’s calling. I write because, for me, it is freedom and equality, love and courage, medicine and nourishment. I write because it’s in my blood and bones and my ancestors gave up too much for me not use it. I write for me. I write for you. I write for us — each day moving forward together in this journey called. Life.