The simple answer is that I've always wanted to write. I wanted to write a book, write an article, an essay or a short story. Writing has been a part of me since a very young age and I enjoy doing it as much as I enjoy reading a great novel or an interesting historical text. There is, of course, a more complicated answer and like many, if not all, authors I write because I have something to say and I want the world to hear it.
Anyone can write about pretty much anything nowadays. With the advent of the internet age and the blog revolution of the last few years, even people who have nothing intelligent or useful to say have the ability to express their opinions in more ways than one. The flood of information sometimes makes me want to abandon my writing. After all, my sometimes thinking goes, how can I compete with so many and how can my voice be heard over the roar that is the blogosphere alone. Thinking like this breeds ever more negative thoughts. It usually turns into I am not good enough to write, or I don't have time to practice writing or the worst of all, what I have to say has already been said a million times and probably much better then I would say it. That is a very wrong direction to go in.
So my main reason for writing is to help me get away from such a barrage of negative thoughts. Writing helps me fortify my own mind against these kinds of thoughts. I force myself to continue and try to improve my grammar, my logic and my composition. Having resolved to do this, my thoughts of not being good enough slowly go away. I gain confidence every time I write something new. That is why I write.
In the not so distant past, I would doubt my ability before I would even begin to write. How much can I write about? Will I have enough to say? These were the questions that bogged my mind before even I would even write a sentence down.More often than not, these questions would defeat me. I would stop or never even start writing. I learned from my past mistakes now. The solution was so very simple. I just needed to write more and write often in order to gain experience. I just needed to dedicate time and focus to writing in order to gain confidence. I am doing that now. That is why I write.
I also learned another important lesson. No matter how badly I write, no matter how incoherent my composition might be, the self-criticism that I usually put myself through is there to help me get better. I can fail at writing a great piece. Hell, I can even fail at writing a good piece, but I can never fail at writing a bad piece. So with that as my starting point, the only way I can go toward is up. As long as I can learn from my previous failed attempts and as long as I can keep trying, I will get better and I will get more confident. I am resolved to do that forever. That is why I write.
There were other things that bothered me while I wrote. I would write a sentence or two, re-read them both and begin editing and changing the content, the order or my initial intent. This process could take seconds or minutes, but it always aroused that pesky little devil called self-doubt. What is this piece about, I would ask. Why am I writing about this? Is this really the way I should go about it or will I have enough to write about? It was not until yesterday that I understood how to deal with this problem. And even though it might not seem useful to all, each person is different, but for me it worked miracles.
Yesterday, I wrote an essay by hand. That's right, I sat down with a pen and paper and wrote out an essay by hand. It was not a long essay, about 450 words and I followed a template set out in a book I purchased called
They Say/ I Say. As I was writing, I noticed my self thinking about each sentence in advance. Planning out what I was going to say and how I would say it. Correcting the already written stuff was a bit harder, I had to cross out a word or two or three or even an sentence and start over. It made me pause before I wrote the next sentence, because I did not want repeat the previous mistake. The two most important lessons that yesterday's experience taught me were patience and focus. Patience and focus are hallmarks of a great writer. The patience it takes to structure your writing in order to lead the reader from one scene to another, or one argument to the next is a skill learned after years of relentless practice. And the focus the author has maintain while composing the work is something that every aspiring author should strive for. I have learned that I need to practice patience and focus and I have to keep doing that everyday. That is why I write.
Bear with me for a few more paragraphs. I promise, I'm almost done. My two other insecurities about writing extended to my spelling and my misguided fear of repeating what I've already said. So here's my way of fixing those.
bear or not to
bare with me, that was my issue. Which word was the correct one to use in that expression. How do I spell presumptuous or does faux pas fit in? Would my misuse of idioms make every reader cringe? These were the types of issues that would stop me mid-flight, or at the least give me pause while I would sit and write. And after having spent some time deciding what is next, I would rewrite the sentence or change the whole context. I would rewrite a paragraph, change many words and phrases. I'd waste my time and energy on few such trivial cases. I learned now that in order for me to become better, I must completely give myself to writing every letter, as if I had already wrote down a perfect sentence, and all my thought and energy should go towards new efforts. Spelling and phrases can be fixed afterwards, I must continue writing to gain command of words.
As I wrote the paragraph above, I noticed myself rhyming certain sections. I like rhyming or writing short poems. It surely is fun. The paragraph above should illustrate how I've learned to keep going no matter what or how I written it. It can always be made better during the revision process. (And after I revised it, I believe the final version is pretty good.) When I wrote that paragraph I paused here and there to ensure that phrases and sentences rhymed. As I write this section, I notice myself thinking what I am going to write about before I actually put it down on paper. I rarely let my insufficient language knowledge stop me from writing now. I learned that I must keep trying in order to get better. That is why I write.
My last thought is about my irrational fear of repeating myself whilst I compose. Repeating myself is a taboo in academic writing. Somehow it has become a hallmark of a great academic writer, the ability write a 100 page paper by utilizing a complete set of original, non-repeatable words. The thought behind this was that the more you repeat, the more it seems as if you don't know what you are talking about. I was schooled in this technique while I was in university completing my History degree. My fear of repetition was such that when I did write a paper that would be deemed repetitive I would always expect a failing or at the least a very low grade.
To my surprise some of my so called substandard work received some of my highest marks. It always made me wonder why that was. I know now. When I wrote my essays as a story, a conversation between me the writer and my marker the reader, it flowed nicely. The whole work was easy to read, easy to follow and easy to grade. I believe deep down inside, most academics yearn for such writing and only bow down to the 'do not repeat' pressure because the scientific establishment forces them to. As a consequence to this, none of my non-repetitive writing ever received a grade higher than a B. I've always struggled with that style.
I've gotten over that fear. I am not afraid to repeat myself when it is required in my writing. I am not afraid to repeat myself when it is useful to arose the reader's feelings and emotions. And I am definitely not afraid to repeat myself because many of the greatest novels, speeches, and stories wore written and made great with the use repetition. I repeat myself often in my writing and with practice I am getting better. That is why I write.
So why do I write? I write because I love writing. I write because I want tell my stories to others. I write because I want to be a master of this craft. As this piece has probably illustrated by now, to become a better writer the only way to do it is to write and write, and write, and write, and write, and write, and write, and write, and write and when you are finally sick of writing, you will be good enough to be called a master.