Revised from a January 2012 post.
This week is National Words Matter Week and I couldn’t let it pass without sharing some thoughts on why I love the written word. The roads that lead us to the writing profession are varied, but we wouldn’t be here if words weren’t imprinted on our souls, or part of our blood. This is just a tiny glimpse into why I love writing.
My mom’s best friend from high school made me a coloring book for my seventh birthday. One particular page was blank, except for some simple script at the top that read “What I Want to Be When I Grow Up.”
I listed different things on that page over the next few years. My occupations of interest ranged from reference librarian (Don’t judge me, the mom on Wishbone had this job) to a dolphin trainer (What kid hasn’t wanted to be this?!) and several other um…random careers.
However, one occupation was listed on every entry, without fail: author.
I got to make that dream a reality at age 26, but for as long as I can remember, I have read and been read to, and consequently developed an abiding love of reading and writing.
In honor of “Words Matter Week,” I wanted to share three reasons why I am passionate about writing.
“We Write to Taste Life Twice.” (Anais Nin)
While perusing the journal aisle at Target several years ago, I saw this quote on a journal.
I have never felt more understood as when I read that quote. We taste life as we experience it and as writers, we enjoy it a second time as we relive the moments in our head and carefully select words to frame those moments. I wouldn’t give up that rhythm for anything.
We Write to Find Connection
In one of my undergrad classes, we focused quite a bit on why people will always read stories about other people. There is an innate pull in all of us to make some kind of connection between our life experiences and others’ life experiences. Whether it is an in-depth profile piece or an anecdote or a comedy bit, we enjoy it, we laugh at it, and we remember best the stories that make us say, “I’ve done something like this,” or “This is something that has happened to me.” Through this, we see that writing is so much more than just the transmission of facts. In his book “Talk to Me,” author Dean Nelson shares this perspective, speaking specifically to the interview process, “When interviews are done well, they have the potential for a human connection that goes past the level of merely gathering information. They become an experience where you are fully present with that other person, and she is fully present with you…“
That’s the power of a well-written story.
Writing is Therapy
Writing is a creative activity and a therapeutic one. Two for the price of one, y’all! Whether I jot down thoughts in my journal (I’ve been keeping journals for 16 years now!) or am working on a piece to be published, I have found that it truly clears my head and allows me to move past certain emotional or mental blocks. This is certainly not a groundbreaking observation. In their book “Expressive Writing: Words That Heal” authors James Pennebaker and John Evans write, “Since the mid-1980s, an increasing number of studies have focused on expressive writing as a way to bring about healing. The first studies indicated that writing about traumatic experiences for as little as twenty minutes a day for three of four days can produce measurable changes in people’s physical and mental health.”
Life can be hard, and I want to use all the tools at my disposal to be my healthiest, balanced self. If one of those tools happens to be what I do for a living, well, no complaints here.
Whether you are just starting out on your writing journey or have been traveling this road for a while, know that you and your words are valuable and needed in this space. Beyond that, we all have immense power with our spoken words which those in our circle experience every day. Let’s wield that power for good.
The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.Proverbs 12:18