I have a few friends who have recently begun writing. They have (or, in some cases, had) successful careers doing other things–from designing software to making TV shows to modeling–but they all found themselves wanting something more. “Wanting” is probably not the right word here. They needed something more. Something more personal. Something more immediate. Something that expressed who they are more directly than whatever it was they were doing before.
Writing is the perfect medium for this. You don’t need any financing to write. You don’t need any special equipment. And, perhaps most significantly, you don’t need anybody else. Writing is the most accessible form of creative expression because words are everywhere. They’re as familiar as food and, with just a little preparation, they have the power to unlock the parts of our lives that we keep hidden away from others and, quite often, from ourselves.
I happen to think that everyone should write. We should write in journals, we should write letters, and we should write stories. Writing is a drawbridge that anyone can lower to help them cross the moat of bullsh*t that surrounds most human interactions. It’s an easy way to lose the heavy coat of decorum. For these reasons, writing is also frightening, exhilarating and highly addictive.
And I don’t think people should get caught up in whether or not they’re a “good” writer because, really, who’s to say? And, in the end, who really cares? In this regard, I liken writing to exercise. I run every day for twenty minutes along the Hudson River for no other reason than it feels good, it clears my head, and it makes my dog, Buffy, happy. I don’t have any plans to run a half marathon or even a 4K. I’m not at all interested in speed and it doesn’t bother me that the local running group of seniors trots past me every evening. Running is not a competition for me, it’s just something I like to do. That’s what I feel writing should be: A daily release of thoughts and ideas that we give to ourselves for no other reason than it feels really good.
Regardless of how hard we may try to avoid ourselves, our insides always find a way of getting out. I happen to think we should encourage this spilling over by finding the time to write (or draw or cook or sing) every day. Because if we avoid creating, if we avoid making something that says a bit about who we really are, I believe we suffer. Sometimes in big ways and sometimes in small ways. But even the small ways diminish our ability to be happy, to share with others, and to love. So, go write something.