I can’t speak for why other people write. I can only speak for why I do it.
To be sure, people list a lot of reasons they take to the keyboard every day to spill themselves onto the page.
Some make a living from their words, others feel the need to tell their stories to counter feelings of loneliness and isolation, others feel that they are using their voice to pursue justice, and others report that they simply enjoy the act of transforming [abstract-thoughts] into [concrete-words] capable of bridging the [communication-gap] that exists between us.
I’ve felt the potential for my writing to do all of these things, and to be sure, the most important reason I do anything in life at this point is that I find my chosen activities enjoyable — even if they are challenging and difficult.
If I only get one life to live, then I’m not going to waste it getting better at skills I hate just so I can have money to enjoy my free time.
I’d rather spend my time cultivating skills I enjoy so that if I ever do get paid for them, I don’t have to kick myself in the ass every morning to wake up and get started.
No, I want to be motivated to hop right out of bed and get to work, whatever that work ends up being (hopefully writing is a big part of it).
But if there’s one reason I continue to write at this point, it’s this…
Writing allows me to take what often feels like a jumbled, unmanageable [thought-scape] and transform it into something a little less daunting as time goes on.
It’s like there’s a version of me trapped in a thorny thicket nested deep within a dark forest, not altogether like the Devil’s Snare that Harry, Hermione, and Ron run into in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
I’m writhing around, struggling to find air, and sometimes I wonder if the sensation of internally suffocating is all that there is.
It’s when this sensation feels almost unbearable that I turn toward writing, and I couldn’t be more grateful to myself for doing so.
When I read books to explore knowledge and then take to the keyboard to see what new thoughts I’m capable of synthesizing, it’s like shining a light on the snare that entraps me, forcing its thorned-tendrils to pull away.
My body starts wiggling, and I get the sense that it will eventually be free to escape the dark forest, find a clearing, breathe, and stare up at the endless, star-filled sky that sits above it.
And that, dear reader, is why writing is worth it.
There is no better way to become a clearer-thinker and relieve mental tension as time goes on.
This is even more true now that we are an extremely verbal society in which the expectation is that most people will become literate, which wasn’t the case for most of human history.
The British philosopher Alan Watts talked about this extensively, but almost from the moment we are born, we are learning how to communicate.
In the Land-Before-Time of our youth, before word-based language came to dominate our thinking, most of our communication was based on [body-language].
We got a sense of what mom and dad were feeling based on the “vibes” they put off — things like their facial expressions, tones of voice, etc.
But as we got older, we eventually learned our first words, and from that point on our tendency became to think verbally — to have an internal monologue playing out in our heads, constantly.
The problem is this: language is abstract.
It doesn’t map to reality perfectly.
And oftentimes we don’t know what words can best communicate our experience to others — they are something we have to “puzzle out” as time goes on.
Writing is that process of “puzzling out” which words can best describe our experience of life, complete with our fears, insecurities, goals, aspirations, and that yearning to strive toward our limitless potential.
Put another way, writing is one way for us verbal-thinkers to get our thoughts in order and to get our heads straight so that we can pursue life with clarity and conviction.
When we are still stuck in the phase of life in which we’re struggling to find the right way to express what’s hanging us up, then everything is jumbled.
It’s like there’s a kink in the water hose of our [mind-body-organism].
For some people, the kink in their hose is somewhere in the body — perhaps due to trauma, a physical ailment, an injury, or what have you.
For others, such as myself, that kink is located more in the “mind” (which is apart of the body, nonetheless). Some part of my “flow” is blocked, and it relates to the way my organism processes thoughts about reality versus how life really is.
Most of the time, I feel like I’m writing blind with a kink in my hose.
I know that I’m meandering here and there in my blog posts, still struggling to find a “niche” and an audience, and still wondering if what I’m writing will ever be valuable to someone else.
And yet, at the same time, I can feel the value in how writing works to clear my own mind, making me a better thinker as time goes on.
Each time I write, it’s like I’m running my hands over the hose to locate kinks, and with each sentence strung out, the tension in the hose releases, and the water begins to flow.
That release of tension doesn’t just manifest when I’m at the keyboard, it carries over into every other domain of my life.
This is one of the major reasons I like to begin my day by writing. It helps straighten my head out before I tackle the other challenges the day throws at me.
Since beginning my writing journey, I’ve found the energy and motivation to:
- Eat healthier as time goes on.
- Get back into physical fitness.
- Start playing basketball again (my favorite childhood sport).
- Read more books than I ever have.
- Think about how to be a better boyfriend for my girlfriend.
- Cut the excuses from my life and focus on the grind instead.
To me, that’s made the journey worth it so far, and it’s proven to me that the sky really is the limit — the more I write, the clearer my thinking becomes, and the clearer my life’s goals begin to manifest themselves.
I also find that writing gives me more confidence when it comes to trusting myself and what’s right for me, rather than only ever listening to the advice of others.
For instance, many writers say that you should never write a post like this one.
It’s a little on the “journal entry” side, after all, and what we’re supposed to write is what’s entertaining, informative, inspiring, or practical.
Well, maybe they’re right.
But this piece feels right for me at the moment, and to me, that beats trying to figure out what other people want or need from my writing.
Besides, isn’t that part of the fun?
Being surprised when something finally strikes a chord and resonates?
So for now, I’m content to keep clearing away the storm clouds that obscure my thinking, to keep wiggling free from the Devil’s Snare that binds me, and to keep putting thoughts into the [idea-stream] that connects us, waiting patiently for a spark to ignite something greater.
The takeaway of this post is this, dear reader: writing works wonders when it comes to producing mental clarity. I’d go so far as to say that finding the right words to describe one’s experiences is therapeutic.
And that, to me, is all the justification I need.