What Writing Does and What It Can Do If You Let It
I talked a lot last time about several things including:
- books = good
- reading = good
- Reasons why we should read and why we should be talking about what we read with others
- Finding your passion
- Getting inspired
But the summation of all of those declarations and realizations was to get myself my motivation back.
Well, what happened to that motivation and how does it manage to disappear like that?
There’s many reasons to lose your motivation for those things you are – or were – so passionate about even just recently but have somehow let fall along the wayside. Which generally leads to disappointment.
Nobody enjoys becoming disappointed because of somebody or something, but most of us have been there.
Truth be told, I never intended nor set out to write anything inspirational/motivational/self-help like the previous 2-part entry.
It wasn’t what I’ve had in mind over my previous years of writing. Circumstances, however, change your priorities and the things you think about. Writing was always a calmative drug for me and I’ve found that the more and more I do it, which has only escalated significantly this year especially, then the more I can intelligently articulate the thoughts in my head on to the page. That’s what writing is for and the more you do it, the better you’ll get at it. The beneficial results will be too numerous to count.
My favorite passage that I’ve read about all the things writing can do for you comes from a blog by a guy named Jeremy Statton about his personal journey from devastation to healing in which he began to write, detailed in his blog post “How Writing Changed My Life”:
I found myself on a journey that I had never intended to travel. A journey to find myself. This was when I began to write.
My heart was burdened, and I wrote to get what was in me out. I started writing because if I didn’t, I would explode.
Writing was the imperfect medicine for my broken soul.
In some ways life started to make sense again. In other ways it didn’t, but writing helped me heal.
It wasn’t much, just a little blog. A place to confess. A place to explore different ideas. A place to meet new people.
A place to find me.
But writing has changed me forever. Changed me for good:
Writing helped me understand the ideas that were swirling around in my head and gave them substance.
Writing gave me the confidence to explore new ideas.
Writing helped me meet new people, new friends that were either on the same journey or understood my own.
Writing showed me the value in people, especially those that are different from me.
Writing forced me to ask questions about what is most important in life.
Writing taught me to take risk.
Writing taught me to feel instead of just looking at the world through the lens of science.
Writing taught me to love.
Writing helped me find God again.
I think that’s a pretty amazing list of what writing can show you and help you find. I may even add a few more to that list:
- Writing can help you focus on what you are passionate about. It can ignite a fire inside of you to take action on the things that you want to do, and not just talk about them.
- Writing can provide a wealth of inspiration. It’s like an imperfect medicine (as Jeremy states in the blog above), but healing all the same. It helps you relate to things around you and help to sort through the mess.
- Writing brings a wealth of transparency and vulnerability.
- Sometimes our thoughts are just too much and we need to get them down on paper. There’s a beautiful thing that happens when a thought travels down from your brain, through your arm, and into your hand.
- Writing can teach perspective and to see things differently. It can teach you to explore an idea before reaching conclusions.
But you know what? It took me a very long time to realize all of this. Writing about ‘what writing does’ made me look back to how far I’ve come. Probably not even that long ago, I had no idea that writing was capable of any of these things. I read and wrote for simple reasons like entertainment and because I thought something was such a neat, super cool idea. And then I realized there’s much, much more.
Why people usually start writing is because at some point in time, they read a book by an author whom it felt had experienced similar things or thought about and pondered similar things. And then they wrote a book about it. It feels like that person knew you. Their words were so beautiful to your heart that you wanted to be just like him/her.
Many people get lofty ideas of what the writing life is like, and we all want to be like our favorite writer. We want to be like them and live like them. We look and see that our favorite book sold, say, a million copies and was a best seller. He/she is living the kind of life a best-selling author lives. They’re famous and live by their own rules. They get to wake up every morning whenever they want to, stay up as late as they want to. Their job consists of sharing their thoughts and maybe talking about what they wrote. People buy their books and applaud.
Who wouldn’t want to live a life like that?
It’s easy to get frustrated with your life when you see someone with what you believe to be a better, easier one than your own.
But why I write now is such a far-cry from why I used to write. I started writing because I wanted to be famous. I started writing because I wanted to write and sell a lot of books, and I wanted to write a script for what will get turned into an amazing movie. I started writing because I wanted the freedom to live life the way I wanted to live.
But I wasn’t really grasping why writing was important.
Here, I’ll tell you something. Back six, seven years ago in my film production classes of university I had written and made somewhere around three different zombie films. I wrote about that stuff because it seemed cool. Not that I had anything particularly important to say through my art, but simply because it seemed cool at the time.
Go ahead and ask me nowadays what I think of writing about zombies, reading about zombies, or watching anything with zombies and I’ll gladly reply with how I couldn’t give a flying fuck. 😀
Not that anything about zombies isn’t worth writing about, but the point is that I wasn’t saying anything that mattered and, most importantly, I wasn’t saying anything that mattered to me.
Over time, our interests, our priorities, and the things we think about change.
So what are you writing about these days? And why is it important, and what has it done to help/teach/provide/uncover something to you?
Everybody has something valuable to say, they just need to learn how to discover and expose it.
One of my many favorite bloggers, Jeff Goins, sums up a lot of things perfectly in his quick post about 3 little reasons why he writes.
“I write to express. I feel like myself when I’m writing. I write not for the purpose of being published or the intention of being read, but for the thrill of putting pen to paper. I write for the love of the craft, for the sake of writing itself.
I write to understand. I do not write because all the answers are in my possession. I write for the same reason Flannery O’Connor did – because I don’t know what I think until it is written. Because by writing, I am able to see things more clearly.
I write to remember. Writing lets me grasp life in ways that would otherwise escape me. It helps me connect with God and the universe and reminds me that I’m still breathing and there’s a reason why.”
– Jeff Goins