Why do you find yourself putting paper to pen, time and again? Why do you pour over pages and pages of words? Arranging and rearranging them, to have them come closer to what you mean, bridging the proverbial gap between what is in your mind and what is on paper? Why do you wake up in the middle of the night with the seed of an idea in your mind? Why do you tiptoe to your desk and find yourself writing fervently until the early hours of dawn? Why do you write as if your life depended on it?
To me, the answers to many of these questions are unknown and perhaps unknowable. But I know this – writing clarifies my mind and heals my heart.
I discover myself and the world through writing. It paints a picture of my days gone by and helps create a blueprint of the days to come while allowing me to become fully present to the here and now.
But it is not a bed of roses. Writing is as much pain as it is pleasure. It relieves my trivial concerns but also makes me aware of the other bigger problems that I should be concerned about. In this way, it progressively lifts the focus of my attention from the mundane to the profound.
Also, writing has been healing to me. When I narrate the deepest despairs of my heart to pen and paper, these sorrows somehow lose their hold on me. I find myself a little more liberated from the grip of pain after I have called it out on paper. I find writing therapeutic.
Here are some of the ways I approach writing.
In this form, I approach an idea and describe it in detail, so that at the end of the writing, I have a more refined thought than I started with. I collect seemingly scattered thoughts and ideas, explore them in several ways, view them from different perspectives, compare them to different data points until they all join together to create cohesive concepts. I sometimes use this to help me understand concepts but I also use it to clarify goals and define future states that I aspire to.
Telling your story
When I narrate a life event with so much vividness and clarity that my reader can fully participate in that incident with me, I have shared a page of my life with them. When I write about significant life events, I am memorializing my experiences both for me and my readers. I intend to create that balance where it is my story, told with fidelity to my experience, but with my reader in mind. It needs to be interesting, understandable, and generally approachable to him so that the reader finds himself in my story and experiences it with me.
Telling someone else’s story
This is different because I am not telling my story but that of someone else. Someone I created, at a place I imagined, and in a situation I conjured. This is where my imagination comes alive and takes over reality. Through my words, I make this imaginary person, place, and event come alive and become real both for me and for my reader. This storytelling needs as much integrity as telling my own story because the person that I create, although imaginary, has to be authentic. This authenticity is what makes my story plausible and real.
The above forms of writing are distinct. Yet what is common to all of them is that connection with the reader – the joining of the minds of the writer and the reader through words. Be it expository or narrative writing, I take this as the singular indicator of my success as a writer.
And then there is another form of writing. I call it Self expression. I sometimes write in freeform. It may be several pages of writing spilling from my soul directly to the paper, with no filter and no restraint. This is writing I do for myself. These passages, I will not go back and refine or rearrange. Therefore they will naturally be somewhat incomprehensible to someone other than me. But these passages were not intended for someone else to read in the first place, so that is ok. They are so deeply rooted in the time and place that they were written at and are often transient thoughts that needed an outlet for expression. Truth Pages is my most preferred form of introspective writing.
As I evolve my writing skills, I try to keep centerstage, what kind of writing I am working on. Once I have clarified the purpose of my writing and defined my audience, it becomes easy for me to convey my thoughts most effectively. A couple of books have been most influential to my approach to writing:
On Writing, by Stephen King
Read by detailed blog post on this book here – On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition by William Strunk and E. B. White
To my fellow bloggers, I imagine you have your own experiences with writing. Please feel free to narrate in the comments section, or even drop links to blog posts, how you have explored your connection to writing. I would love to read it!