Writing is something I have enjoyed for as long as I can remember. Despite this love of the craft, I have no idea how this came to be.
I cannot pinpoint one exact moment when the realisation hit me that writing was for me. I have always been a creative person, I need some form of an outlet otherwise, I will go crazy.
It could have been painting, it could have been woodworking, it could have been creating music, for whatever reason, writing is my medium of creative expression.
Although writing is my way of expressing myself, I have never given much thought to the purpose of a writer. For me, writing is a way of releasing the creative juices that I have flowing inside me.
Writing helps clear my mind. It is almost a form of optimisation. I am decluttering my brain of thoughts and musings that otherwise would remain bouncing around inside of my head.
In essence, this is the purpose of a writer. The numerous thoughts that occur to us are fuel for our writing. We also have various events that have occurred during the course of our lifetimes to fall back on.
There is no one reason to write, people write for man different reasons, but it could be argued, there is one purpose of the writer. That is to simply make the sense of their thoughts and the world around them offering a perspective that is unique to them, and them alone.
Writing may appear to be about the vanity numbers. The number of followers, the number of views, the number of book sales, but in its visceral form it is a much simpler act.
Simply put, it is to make sense of this thing we call life.
The Point of Writing
In its purest form, writing is simple. You decide what you want to write about, you put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard in this instance, and you’re away.
While this is boiling the art down to its bare essentials, there isn’t much more to it than this. However, you often need a reason to write. Maybe it is to let off some steam, maybe it is to pay the bills, or maybe it is for a different reason.
For me, it is simply because I cannot NOT write!
I have to write. I have to thrash out whatever emotions and thoughts are swirling around inside of me so that I can make sense of them and hopefully help other people make sense of similar thoughts too.
One of the many obstacles stopping from writing in the first place is the feeling that what they write about has no validity. This comes from a mistaken belief that their point of view has no merit.
It’s easy to assume that because someone else has written about this topic before that there is no point in writing about it. Maybe they have covered the topic in much better detail than I ever could, so why bother?
This misses the point spectacularly. Humans have been writing for thousands of years. The very topics that we write about today have been covered many times before.
The only thing that is missing from this compendium of writing is your viewpoint. Only you can offer your perspective on the world. Each of us sees the world in a different light. We have may have similar views, but they are not one and the same. They are different shades of grey, different pages in the same book.
The point of writing is to tell a story with an insight that only you have. It is to critically think about events, inform, entertain, and communicate this with the reader.
The point of writing is to speak your truth and to speak it well.
Turning Life Into Art
Writing is a volatile experience. Often the best writing comes from deep within, in places that we rather not explore. It is from our darkest recesses that our best work develops.
The writer Jorge Luis Borges was no stranger to trauma. At the age of 55, he became completely blind. He would live a further 31 years, all of those in the darkness that enveloped him in his 55th year.
This must have been traumatic for Borges, I cannot imagine life without the sensation of sight. However, this did not deter him from writing. It merely strengthened his belief that all of life is a resource that must be tapped for writing.
Borges was adamant about this:
A writer — and, I believe, generally all persons — must think that whatever happens to him or her is a resource. All things have been given to us for a purpose, and an artist must feel this more intensely. All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art.
Our jobs as writers are to tap into all that we experience around us, all that we have experienced and make sense of it. There is not much more to it than that. Our whole life is a resource that should dip in and out of.
We must not favour our successes or our embarrassments, we must be honest about all we have been through. They are all a part of us, and they can all be expressed in equal measure.
Writing is not a popularity contest it is not about who has the most followers or who writes the best book. On the contrary, it could be argued that one role of the writer is to be unpopular. The reason being, you are taking your readers out of their comfort zone and making them challenge conceptions which they hold to be true.
No one sets out to write something that is unpopular, but it is a by-product of questioning what we see around us. The job of a writer is to express what he feels regardless of whether it is deemed popular or not.
It is to say true to ourselves, to use our experiences as fuel and to explain to the world what we feel to be true.
In this regard, it is a quote from Anaïs Nin that best sums up the role we play as writers.
“The role of a writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say.”