Last year, a fantastic blog hop did the rounds (going viral, in fact) on a subject close to my heart – ‘Why I write.’ Writers, bloggers, and coaches alike responded to the hop with a collection of truly enlightening, honest, and diverse answers. My favourite was probably the piece done by Tara Bliss, in which she gave a characteristically pull-no-punches, behind-the-scenes look at her unique writing style and processes.
Naturally, all this got me thinking about why I write. Of course, I write all the time and have done since I can remember. First at school, then university (I studied Professional Writing & Editing and majored in Literature), then at work as a copywriter, marketer, and manager. And now – of course – in my own business, where I write my heart out for my own clients across a variety of mediums. In a professional context, writing has become second nature. It’s something I do every day without really even thinking about it.
What I haven’t done so much of though in the last few years (honestly, probably even longer than that) is write, just because. I’m sure you know the story – I got busy with work, bills, renovating, other adult commitments, everything other than being creative. But, late last year, something changed. Perhaps it was edging ever closer to the grand old age of 30? Perhaps it was watching my dear Nana start to slip away due to Alzheimer’s and, as a result, facing my own mortality? Either way, something within me recognised just how important creativity is and once again I’ve started carving out time to really, truly express myself with no real agenda and no monetary gain. The question remains though, why? Why is it important? Why write, just because?
For me, I think, there are two quite simple reasons:
1. There is something I must express.
Sadness and happiness. Disconnection and connection. Melancholy. Beauty. The human experience is a huge spectrum of emotion, and I am driven (always have been) to get it down on paper. Successfully capturing it is another thing altogether, of course; but the very act of attempting to express our humanity, our experience, is so very rewarding. In writing it down, perhaps we are also attempting to capture it forever, because across every experience and emotion is that other inescapable reality: impermanence.
2. There is something I must resolve.
For all those times when there is something clear and embodied that I must express, there are even more times when the human experience is fraught, confusing, and overwhelming. Some people like to ‘talk it out’, but as an introvert, I’ve learnt that my tendency is to internalise it – ruminating endlessly and usually getting nowhere. For me, pulling out a pen and paper (more so than my laptop) and forcing myself to formulate words into sentences has a way of making the complex somehow simple, the intangible tangible. By writing it down, I am able to pull the bits and pieces (often worries and confusion) in to some kind of cohesive whole, and then – most importantly – I am able to let it go. In this way, writing provides sweet release. I write, I make sense of the mess as best I can, and then I move on.
What really kick-started this reawakening for me was an article my Mum passed on to me earlier this year, titled ‘Dream Time’ and written by author Josephine Moon. In it, she writes, “We’re always waiting for the perfect time. And we bargain with ourselves by saying we’ll just be happy when we’ve paid off the bills, finished that degree, got that promotion, had three kids, got a cleaner, got a new car… whatever. And yet we all know the truth: there is only the now. And you can’t be temporarily unhappy to be happy. Deep down we know this, yet we find myriad ways to delay our dreams. We think creativity is something separate from life. But it is life, not something you do for an hour on a Saturday afternoon. We’re running ourselves into the ground with pie charts and timetables and life coaches trying to find the work-life balance when there is no such thing. There is only life. And you only have one of those.”
These words had such a profound impact on me that I can’t bear to throw the article out. I have read and re-read it, and it is tucked safely in to the pages of my journal. Perhaps I should frame it and put it on my office wall as a kind of manifesto. I love it so much, I think, because it drives home the fact that creativity is a choice. We can choose to ignore it, or we can choose to bring it forth and foster it via a conscious practice. For many of us, it’s a life force; and if we neglect it, we suffer. That unheard inner voice makes itself known in other ways eventually – anxiety, sadness, that inexplicable itchiness of ‘something missing.’ The great Brene Brown wrote, “Unused creativity is not benign. It clumps inside us, turning into judgment, grief, anger and shame.” Oh so true.
I look back on the last few years, years where I convinced myself that one day I would make time for my creativity, and it all makes sense. I am, like it or lump it, a creative person. Perhaps we all are. And, in order to be well and whole, I must make time to express and resolve my human experience creatively. This has been such a powerful realisation. In writing again – here, there, and everywhere, just because – I feel I have finally returned to myself.
I have come home.