Each time someone mentions the word “writer,” we almost always imagine a quirky recluse, hunched over a desk in some cabin, with mounds of crumpled paper strewn about, obsessively working on the next great piece of work.
And yet, for someone given to drawing doodles and scribbling in the notebooks as a child, writing has always been much more than that. It has been and continues to be, a source of joy and freedom, one that has taken me on a flight of fantasy, away from the everyday banal reality of life. Over time, this habit of drawing and doodling took the shape of diary logs and short poems when an uncle who was visiting us one summer decided to gift me a red and brown diary, as a birthday gift. The diary was accepted with absolute delight, and found its’ pride of place amongst my treasured possessions. It became a safe place for all my sketches and stories. I had just discovered a way of documenting the important events in my uneventful life. Diary writing continued throughout school and college years and somewhere along the way, I discovered writing or should I say, writing discovered me!
I’ve written for pleasure and in pain, to explain myself or chide, when things went awry. Wherever I went, my dairy followed me. In fact, I’ve always thought of writing as an extension of my thoughts, an essential aspect of the person that I am and who I aspire to be, as an individual. I’ve written often and almost every day, through good days and bad ones, through the passing phases of life, through little wins and heartbreaks and failures alike. I’ve always believed in one thing – Writing is ‘thought’ put to page, whether it is an email or a note, a story, an essay or poetry. By virtue of this definition, everyone who writes is a writer — even if we are not all equally imbued with the art to spin beautiful prose.
I recall reading with surprise how there have been many successful people in the world who happen to be writing in private, away from the public eye. If Bill Gates has been known to write as a way to sit down and re-evaluate his thoughts during the day, Warren Buffet has used writing as a key way of refining his thoughts. Writing, for them, became another tool for thinking, expression, and encouraging creativity.
But, is writing just that and nothing more?
And why should everyone write? Why should those who don’t consider themselves writers even bother with trying to make writing a regular habit?
Writing can be a very solitary activity which many apparently find boring. But, for those who write, this can be an incredibly liberating experience and a very useful outlet, irrespective of whether we consider ourselves as writers or not. I have never really thought of any concrete goals or reasons when I started to write initially. Well, nothing apart from the obvious love of writing; the love of coining words and documenting experiences and curating passing thoughts and memories, as many do!
If you ask me now, I’d say that the reasons to write have been many. Today, when I write, I find it helps me purge my everyday mundane worries and puts things into perspective. Writing takes me on breath-taking adventures, the likes of which reality’s limitations don’t allow me to experience. And, let me tell you honestly, I am no writer. I have miles to go on that road before I can call myself one. And, yet, I write. So, what does writing really do for the likes of us-lesser mortals who love to write?
A lot really, trust me. It has a whole range of benefits that makes people, including well-known public figures and business leaders keep daily journals.
- The act of writing helps us clarify things to ourselves, think through situations and events that have happened in the past and help us to communicate better.
- Writing about things that bother us helps to de-stress and unburden the things that are weighing on our mind, and allow brainstorming to lead to solutions.
- Writing helps give vent to pent-up anger by releasing it harmlessly into the world and pulling our emotional state back to a good baseline.
- The act of releasing those innermost thoughts is cathartic and ensures us a good night’s sleep.
- Writing in a gratitude journal about the good things in life makes us happy and count our blessings for things that we often take for granted.
- Writing is akin to meditation when we permit ourselves to follow the stream of consciousness method by letting our words flow unhindered from the mind straight onto paper or the computer.
- Writing about achieving future goals and dreams can make us happier and healthier.
- Regular writing helps flesh out our thoughts in the mind, without that constant ‘tip of the tongue’ feeling that can sap away our confidence when we speak.
- A very important part of dealing with trauma is writing about it. Writing can be a very powerful way to come to terms with what happened, accepting the outcome and has been scientifically proven to help in the healing process.
- As a thinking exercise, writing, like physical exercise, can help the mind from getting ‘rusted’ and instead keep us “in shape” as we age.
- Writing helps us focus on the most important things by closing all the unnecessary ‘mental tabs’ of juggling too many thoughts at the same time.
The list is merely indicative of how wide-ranging the benefits of writing promises to be. So, whether it is a simple note or a laborious work of fiction, it does not really matter what we write, just as long as we are writing.
For those of us who write regularly, writing also gives us a voice to reach out to the world, to express our thoughts and beliefs and in the process, makes us feel brave, strong and empowered. The writing group I belong to, has people from varying backgrounds and cultures, varying beliefs and ideologies-what binds us together is the fact that we all write -Writing makes us aware of our thoughts, helps us to focus and to regenerate ideas. It is fascinating and taxing at times, mercurial and effervescent even; often a pain and a pleasure and a bit like a trusted confidante or a jealous lover at another.
For those who wish to write but hesitate, let me tell you, there is never a better time to start writing than now. You’re never more alive and free than when you yield to the power of the words and let them flow. In the words of Virginia Woolf:
Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.
(Linking this with #WritingWednesday hosted by Write Tribe.)