Saturday, February 25, 2012

On Writing

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

One formal definition of writing describes the action as the act of forming visible letters or characters; ideas put together on the page to tell a story, give a singer a song, or educate those reading the work.
For me, writing is very much dependent on the writer's definition. It is what someone makes of it, and is as integral as the writer itself. Because every writer is different, the way they write is different. The hours they put on, how they come up with ideas, the notes they take, etc. It's very much an individual process.

Traditionally, writers liken it to hard work, something you delve into day in and day out, pounding away at at the keyboard or with the pen. For me personally, it is as much creative inspiration as it is anything else. I find that article ideas, paragraph openers, and simple sentences will just come to me at the most inopportune times- like when I'm showering or eating for instance. It's as if I'm supposed to stop everything and write, even if I've been plugging away all day, as if getting this idea down will be the only way to continue my day. I have plenty of moments where I'm in the middle of something, often conversation, and I suddenly have a better idea on how to phrase an opening paragraph. Article ideas love to come to me when I'm about to head off to bed. I've woken up in the middle of the night under the guise of having to go to the bathroom when I find myself looking for a pad of post-its and a pen.

Of course there are plenty of times when I'm looking at an empty computer screen. On a given workday afternoon when I'm finished with necessary work and have the time to start something else I suffer from momentary writer's block. I become unable to come up with ideas when I have the chance. I call this “radio silence”. It feels like static in my head that is preventing me from writing anything fruitful. It's annoying, and fortunately it doesn't happen a lot. Of course I have my moments where I don't like anything I write (great writing doesn't always just come to you), but you to have write and plug away it to get something great. Even if you think it's garbage, have something written than you can always edit and fix later. Even the worst opening sentence is a great place to start compared to writing nothing.

This is how I know that I'm a writer. I simply have to write because inspiration keeps on coming. It would be a waste not to. My advice to anyone who wants to start writing is to simply do it. Once you start and keep at it for a while, you'll find that inspiration starts coming to you. It won't always be easy- ask any other writer- but if you do it you're giving yourself the chance to write more. You might be like me and sometimes find the things you say sound like something you've written. And that's not a bad thing. It is such a great tool in so many ways. From grasping better spelling and grammar to learning how to form a compelling argument, writing is incredibly important. Try it sometime. You never know what you might come up with.