Writing is a lot of things. Everyone has a different relationship with writing; I hardly hear a middle ground when the question of “Do you like to write?” pops up.
This blog post is an ode to writing and what it has meant to me throughout my life.
When I was ten years old, I often fought with my parents. Once, after disputing something I’m sure was trivial that I was absolutely right about, I would run to my room, flop onto my bed, and think angrily, “If I had magic powers, I could just do whatever I wanted.”
After enough fights (and there were a lot), a revelation finally clicked in my head. I may not have magic powers in reality, but I could write a story about what I could do if I did. In fact…I could write about anything.
The realization was intoxicating. Here was something that couldn’t get me in trouble (erm, I was young and naive), and no one could take it away from me. I could travel to different worlds, create my own, and be as important or as cool as I wanted. Over time, I pulled myself out of the story and made characters who stood without me, but it was still (and always would be) my private sanctuary.
Depression. Anxiety. Despair. Rage. Hope. Boredom.
Secrets. Confessions. Clarification. Purging. Reminders.
Bad work days. Extraordinary personal days. New loves. Love potentials. Lost loves. Unrequited loves.
Writing has been my confidante, my companion. It has been my steady, my constant. No matter what has come into my life or left me, I have always been able to turn to a journal and sketch out what I was feeling. Even if I can’t directly push the words out of my mouth, there are other words that will speak for me on paper or screen, until I’m ready to say what I truly mean.
A few years ago, I worked as a website copywriter for a telecommunications company. The company’s weekly quota was to complete advertisement copy for 10 standard small-business websites, or content for 5 deluxe websites.
There were about 30 writers on the team at the time. Most of them were clever enough to start with reused text base, changing keywords to match the necessary industry. Being one of excessively creative talent (/sarcasm), I tended to do things the hard way: writing each copy anew. With this method, it was much more difficult to reach the quota each week.
I don’t know if it was my HSP or introvert tendencies to overthink every single word I recorded, but I am a slow writer. Not only that, but the words that I want to use don’t often come to me immediately.
Then, of course, there is the proper intonation to consider. Writing “no” to different parties must be formulated based on their background:
- To a child: No.
- To a boyfriend: Nooooo! ;-P <3 <3
- To a customer: Unfortunately, we will not be able to accommodate you at this time.
- To an executive: While this is may require more looking into, we have other promising options.
Now, apply that principle to fiction. To nonfiction. To manufacturing plant manuals. To scientific journals. Add in research and organization and length and whether you want it to be funny, and…
And now my brain hurts. Moving on.
“I’m going to write in my story,” my sister T said, and I looked up from typing my own computer–just in time to see her recline in the lawn chair and cover her face with a pillow.
“I thought you said you were writing,” I said.
“I am,” she said, and shut her eyes.
The great thing about writing? You can do it any time, at all times. It may seem to others that you’re doing nothing, but who cares? You know that you’ve figured out that plot hole that’s been nagging you for months, as you were cooking dinner. Or you now have a name for your main character as you were commuting to work.
Even when a writer is not writing, they are certainly writing.
Everyone has seen at least one of the “You’re Not Yourself” commercials from Snickers. If you haven’t, here’s a classic example:
While lack of food will definitely turn me into a confrontational Golden Girl, not writing in any form produces the same effect. Twenty-five years of using my imagination to develop fictional worlds, whether I’ve released them for public viewing or not, is a fully integrated part of me. When I’m not writing (even “not writing” writing), I become irritable and listless. It’s like being apart from a dear friend.
Regardless of your relationship with writing, I will always be a proponent of re-exploring it every now and again. It may not be your favorite activity, but at least it will help you know just what writing means for you.
What is the one word that describes writing for you?