Why do you write?

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January 7, 2011 by jessperriam

Fingers poised at the tiny, Jess sized keyboard* or pen poised above a blank, bog-standard notebook, I often just think about what I’d like to write and get into it and let the stream of consciousness take its merry path.

But I don’t usually pause to think about why I write.

I think it’s both a positive and a negative. Positive because I don’t (usually) get extreme writer’s block. That kind of agony has rarely afflicted me, it’s been hell when it has. But on the flipside, I rarely hesitate when pressing the Publish button, often causing writer’s remorse.

But here are the brutally honest reasons why I write.

1. Words can be powerful

The main lesson I learnt from the Christmas letter challenge was that words can be powerful. The reactions of recipients included tears, grins, pauses for thought and just some happiness at being thought of. The most startling reaction was the tears, and the volume of tears that came from simple letters of affirmation – the content of most letters was telling those close (and sometime not so close) to me what I thought of them and how much they mean to me. In return it was incredibly humbling to see and hear the responses.

The art of letter writing is breathing its dying breaths, please help resuscitate her. It would be an incredible shame for her to pass away.

2. With words come great clarity

Writing is the best way I make my point known. I am a broadcaster but talking isn’t my strong suit. Case in point: if I verbalised some of what I wrote here, I’m fairly certain it would be met with sideways glances and eye-rolling. There is no such thing as stumbling over words in writing (although come to think of it, perhaps typos are the writing equivalent of stumbling).

I feel my brain connects better with my hands to get my words out than it does my mouth. It’s just the way I was made.

3. It’s catharsis

I’ve been writing privately in stacks of notebooks for longer than I can remember. It makes no sense to the outsider reading it and I’m fairly certain it’s repetitive for me to read back. But it helps to get things off my chest and out of my mind. It makes me a calmer person to deal with. I’m not journaling at the moment, mostly because I think I’m in an ok place.

4. I am hopelessly in love with words and wordplay

I love words. I enjoy crafting a sentence that has the perfect amount of sense, tension and meaning for the reader to carry on.

Nothing makes my brain contentedly sigh more than a piece of prose that reads well in my brain. Perfect rhythm, great writing devices and a cheeky piece of wordplay are all I need.

Scrabble is my playground. Alliteration is my hobby (truth be told, I prefer assonance ). A well-executed simile makes my imagination run wild.

I am a word nerd.

5. It’s just what I do

Perhaps you go jogging and you do it without giving it a second thought. Or maybe you play the trombone with finesse. Or you might even play World of Warcraft without giving it or anything else in the world a second thought. It’s just what you do and it comes naturally.

Writing is what I do and I can give some reasons as to why I do it and what inspires me to do. But simply put: it’s just what I do.

*I have one of those mini-laptops for ease of portability. Now when faced with other laptops, I feel positively midget-like.


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