Thursday 13 – January 7, 2010: Thirteen Reasons Why Writing Is Better Than Not Writing

I’m a writer. Those of you who know me, know this. Occasionally, I get questions like “Why do you write?” or “How do you write so much?” Instead of answering them directly, I want to share a few thoughts on why writing is better than not writing, in a whole host of ways. This applies to writers and non-writers alike.

1. Julia Cameron, in her seminal work The Artist’s Way discusses the concept of Morning Pages. This is three pages of longhand writing daily. They act in subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) ways to align us with our own creativity and with our own awareness. While difficult to describe, even the evidence of a week can show their power.

2. Writing is a way of grounding. Something about kinesthetically running the pen across the page is therapeutic (I speak here of literal writing, and not just keyboarding).

3. Which is ironic, actually, since I’m typing this list. Which leads me to the next idea, that any writing is good, regardless of the method of doing it. I personally think that it counts even if it’s spoken into a voice recognition software (the one I recommend is Dragon Naturally Speaking ).

4. Storytelling is our birthright as humans. Even if we tell stories verbally, which many good storytellers do, writing them down is a way of preserving them and interacting with them that leads to insight and better acquaintance with repeating issues.

5. Memoir is valuable. I’ve spoken with many people over the years who lament the passing of elders who left this plane without their stories being preserved. Even the vaunted Smithsonian Institution is acting to halt this loss of our cultural heritage with folklore preservation efforts, but more can be done at the grassroots level by ordinary people like you and me.

6. Writing is becoming more and more critical in today’s economy, and only will continue to rise in prominence. Regardless of your opinion about the internet, it’s not going away. While it is a tool of the developed and wealthy world right now, more and more inroads are made every day to bring connectivity to the masses all over the globe, from Africa to Iceland, and Fiji to Indonesia. Facility with written communications, emails, web pages, and whatever the next generation of communication tools will be is critical to professional and interpersonal success. Srsly.

7. Writing is fun. The grammar method of teaching writing is broken, as you’ve probably heard me rant before in these pages if you’ve been reading for a while. If you haven’t, then I’ll simply say, the grammar method of teaching writing is stupid. It isn’t how the human organism communicates, and it stifles creativity. Creativity is messy, like children with finger paints. Rather than be afraid of it, we can embrace it and harness its raw power.

8. Grammar and spelling are even more important now than ever before, despite the proliferation of text-speak and lol-cat language. Why? English, for good or ill, has become the global language of the internet. While there are signs that other languages have gained prominence (German and Chinese, among others), English is still the way that businesses conduct international business and how a very large chunk of the reading population reads – even if it’s in translation. In order to effectively communicate, we need a common language – and simply saying “English” isn’t enough. Grammar is there for a reason, and as much as I dislike saying this, it has importance. It allows people to communicate in a common tongue – which anyone reading the story of the Tower of Babel can see is of a benefit to society.

9. Even non-writers need to write to share their art. Knitters, for example, are voracious consumers of knitting patterns, knitting profiles and interviews, history, design concepts, and all sorts of things. In fact, Nancy Bush made headlines in the writing industry because her last book signing drew 350 patrons – completely unexpected by the publisher (but totally understandable to those of us who are fiber geeks – it’s Nancy Bush, for Heaven’s sake!!).

10. One of the requirements for the national certification of Master Knitter in Handknits is… to write a pattern that the applicant designed themselves. While knitting knowledge is a requirement for this, so is writing. There are a host of other fields for which this is a requirement, from auto mechanics to physics.

11. It’s a marketable skill. You can use it in all sorts of industries, whether it’s for writing letters and such or using them as a copy editor or content provider. Technical writing, for example, is a lucrative profession. While it requires writing skills, it also requires expertise in the specific industry for which you’re writing.

12. You can tutor others. High school students and college students are notoriously weak in the area of writings skills, and there are a growing number of immigrants who need assistance with written English. If you want to pick up some money on the side and help others doing it, this can be a rewarding sideline.

13. You can share your love of writing with others! Group blogs, writing groups, online forums, and a whole host of other avenues for writing are available to you – all under the radar of the traditional publishing world. By that, I mean you don’t have to be a professional freelancer to write and get exposure. Plus, if you follow this route, you will eventually gain the skills necessary to get published professionally – and then, you can remember all of us “wannabe’s” and tell MORE stories of “When I was a newbie writer, I…”

Happy TT!

8 Replies to “Thursday 13 – January 7, 2010: Thirteen Reasons Why Writing Is Better Than Not Writing”

  1. Writing is something I do every day without thinking about it much. I do it because I enjoy it.

    I hadn’t thought of writing in relation to crafts such as knitting – you’re right. I listened to an interview with Michael Parkinson, an English chat show host, and he learned his writing skills by typing out his mother’s knitting patterns. They then sold the patterns all over the world.

  2. I write more at the computer than longhand – when I really get going, my hand can’t keep up writing longhand. I can type faster than I write.

    However, there are times that things are backed up at the keyboard, and the only way I can write is longhand. There is definitely something to be said for longhand.

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