Let’s empower people by writing
Four insights to remind us how strong this old technology is
Writing is a great way to let people have voice to express their ideas, connect with other people and register their life journeys, no matter the reasons. Writing is cheap, easy and accessible even in the hardest environment — in a war, a piece of coal can write in a ruined wall. The increasing of texts flowing through platforms such as Medium and LinkedIn is the most recent reflexion of this.
As a journalist, I probably should have this concept very clear in my mind. However, I confess that only now, creating a business about writing, this came to me as a strong tool to build the purpose of what I’m doing. Let me tell a few things that are helping me to figure this out.
In the article The Computer For The 21st Century, published in 1991, Mark Weiser reminded us that writing is a technology so powerful that we don’t stop to think we are using it. It just exists. When you think about how to communicate with another person, writing is the first choice after direct language, which comes naturally from our bodies, such as talking and making gestures. Then, we could consider writing a technology very close to a native language, an extension of our minds, to reach other minds.
In the book Writing That Works, Roman and Raphaelson completed my comprehension of this thought when they say that “The only way some people know you is through your writing (…) your writing is you. It reveals how your mind works”.
The power of ideas transformed into words is another side of these thoughts. They can change lives, giving them meaning. Great books of our history are there to prove it. Also the cinema and some particular stories. I was watching the movie Papa when I thought about this. It’s based on the true story of journalist that became friends with Ernest Hemingway when he was living in Cuba. Everything starts when the journalist writes a letter to Hemingway, telling the author that he was an orphan when the reading of Hemingway’s books gave him the dream of also being an author, and how this had changed his life forever.
Registering the trajectory of a soul — in other words, giving eternity to lives than otherwise would be forgotten — is one more great benefit of writing. This came to my mind when I was reading Mia Couto’s book Sleepwaking Land. Full of legends and magic realism, it’s about two fugitives of a refugee camp in Africa. They find a corpse with a journal, which they start to read. The diary tells the drama of a boy who is leaving his family because of the civil war — a lost story if he hadn’t written it.
Thus, I decided to group these four insights in this text, to organize the strong lesson behind them.
But, here comes the practical challenge: what about the real people who surround me? How can I help them to take this amazing simple resource to amplify their voices?
As a journalist, I did it a few times, but it was as more as a messenger than someone to give them tools so they can to do it by themselves. Now I have a business which I can do this through. I’m not a demagogue, I need money for my services and my sustenance should come from my earnings on it. Obviously, I have bills to pay.
Nevertheless, there is something bigger here: the understanding of the importance of what I’m doing.
This will not only improve the way I help people who pay me to write, but also push me to create ways to help who can’t pay for it. I’m not a teacher of writing. But I could probably give a hand to those who have something in mind and need to write it down.
Would you help me with (realistic) ideas?
Special thanks to my english teacher Ray Climie for helping me with text mistakes.