There is tremendous value in writing.
Committing one’s thoughts to an empty page affords you the willingness and ability to communicate well. Whether the written form is a private journal entry, a book, a blog post, a screenplay, or a letter to a friend, the end result is the same. You get to exercise that muscle in your brain that allows you to organize your thoughts clearly, vividly, and confidently.
For starters, it is important to understand the value of writing.
- Writing is more than just physically writing (or typing) something down. Writing is the practice of creating a roadmap to the intricate thoughts in your mind. Deep inside your head, there are winding roads that lead to forgotten places. Some destinations are worth the journey, but you have to find your own way first. Writing drives you forward to those places worth finding.
- Out of the thousands of objects and sensations we feel, hear, touch, and smell every day of our lives, there are only a handful that truly matter. Our minds are constantly inundated with messages from our environment. In response, we have thousands, if not millions, of thoughts that run a mile a minute through our brains. The practice of writing is a way to distinguish between the thoughts that hold value versus the ones that simply clutter up space. When you write down the burdens and thoughts in your mind, you separate the signals from the noise.
- Based on personal experience, eloquence does not bloom out of speaking alone. When you understand the art and form of the written word, it becomes easier to replicate that form when you speak out loud. There is a reason why writers and journalists tend to be the most eloquent (and quite often concise) speakers in the world. Their spoken words are extensions and reflections of what they write. They have the advantage of understanding the form so that the function becomes seamless.
- Writing creates a quiet space in your life for reflection and contemplation. When I give myself the time to wander through my thoughts, reactions, and feelings, I find a stronger footing within my own convictions and values. I grow to understand what my instincts are telling me in abstract and nonlinear ways. More often than not, the worthwhile ideas are not the most straightforward.
For those of you who know me personally, you may have noticed that I do all kinds of music and visual work, but the truth is that I have always been a writer at my core. All of my artistic work has stemmed from my sensibilities and daily practices as a writer and the way a writer organizes her/his thoughts and ideas.
If writing is something you are interested in exploring, here are some of the lessons I have learned along with way.
- Write every day. Literally, write something, anything, every day. Eventually, your mind and body will grow accustomed to the muscle memory, focus, and internal flow that writing demands. You can keep a daily journal or maintain a blog. (I do both of these.) Alternately, you can work on a book, short story, play, poetry, or song lyrics. The end result matters less. The goal is to create an ongoing habit of writing consistently.
- Write first. Edit later. I have a terrible habit of editing what I write as I go. I cannot resist correcting spelling or questioning sentence structures. As a result, this interrupts the stream of consciousness from which creative ideas can flow and slows down the completion of your work. I am getting better at this, but it is not easy for me. The goal is to first commit to paper the thoughts and ideas you have. Then, make corrections and adjustments afterword. The ideas are what’s valuable here. Get those down first.
- Edit for brevity. Writing that is superfluous is no different than a long political speech that says a whole lot about nothing. If you have ever heard one of those, you get the point. Particularly if you want others to read your writing, be concise. Time will be saved, and your ideas will be more potent.
- Those who write read. I am a bookworm who reads all kinds of books and numerous articles online. I constantly hunt for topics that genuinely interest me. If you enjoy writing, it is beneficial to see how other writers approach the artistry and craft of it. You might find a writer, essay, or story that inspires you. In my case, the day I started to read Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray is one I will always cherish. Even though its story is dark and unsettling, Wilde’s prose is flowing, graceful, and elegant. Reading that book was like discovering magic. I never knew writing could be so rich.
- Find your own authentic and creative flow. Ultimately, the goal is to find your own voice in whatever authentic and creative form your writing manifests. This may take a long time to figure out, but it is worthwhile when it finally happens. Whether you want to write about social and political topics or keep a private journal, the endgame is to cultivate the ideas that matter to you and enliven your spirit.
- Live an adventurous life. Your imagination will only take you so far. The experiences in your life will deepen the emotions and vibrancy of your writing. Take risks. Eat ice cream. Scream aloud on a roller coaster ride. Be sexy. (For that matter, give yourself permission to enjoy sex in whatever form or fetish that demands.) Seek out intimacy. Value your friendships. Defy your enemies. Be bold. Wear high heels. Build a sloppy mess in your kitchen to make something delicious. Get your heart broken and then heal. (Then do it all over again.) Laugh as much as humanly possible. Sneeze loudly. Be grateful. Find love and hold it close. Go for long walks outdoors. Cuddle with kittens and oceans of puppies. Hug your parents joyfully. Cuss like a sailor in drag. Be defiant. Be whatever the fuck you want to be. And yes, eat ice cream.
Now, find an empty page and write aplenty. Words are meant to be seen as much as they are heard. They are the guideposts that lead us to our purest selves.