The Power of Writing, or Why Write?

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“I think all writing is a disease. You can’t stop it.”
~William Carlos Williams

I believe that one you are bitten by the writing bug, you’ll never lose your desire to write. There’s something about creating literature, putting words down on paper. It’s a fascinating process that can be extremely complicated if you have no idea what to do, and yet, from the moment each one of us learns to speak, we are equipped with the most important tool for writing: the ability to express ideas in words. This tool of expression is developed to varying degrees in each of us, but not all of us have the urge to express everything we experience in written words. That’s probably because so many people have not had the opportunity to truly appreciate what the written word can convey. People who are exposed to a great variety of written expression, no matter the genre, will realize that they have that same opportunity to express themselves, their ideas, their feelings. If they have been equipped with superior writing skills and understand the effect their words might have on others, it’s as natural as a block of ice melting in heat. Probably the best motivator is knowing you are able to record everything you think, feel, experience in words that you can revisit any time you want to. For others, the best motivator might be knowing that your story, your ideas, your sentiments, and everything you are able to express in words, will be appreciated by someone else. Writers, after all, are people, who need to be heard, who need to connect with other people, who need to know they are not alone in this wide world that can be alienating and difficult to navigate in any given lifetime. In this case, the best motivator is simply needing to make sense of everything, to organize everything into something that is more comprehensible, more tangible, and in doing so, answering important questions that so many people always wanted to ask but were afraid to. Every writer will have a reason for writing, but sometimes, like the mountain that just has to be climbed, we write because we just have to see our ideas as written words.

Like any other form of communication, all writing has a purpose. It doesn’t matter whether that purpose fulfills something writers want only for themselves or for their readers, any writing becomes legitimate once words are committed on paper–or more appropriately nowadays, in a digital file. Like most arts, literature is produced mainly to entertain. However, literature extends beyond a mere art form, because it is also a valuable means of communication. Hence, as written communication, it can fulfill several other purposes: entertain, inform, explain, or influence readers. This is not to say that these purposes are mutually exclusive. While you might set out with a single purpose in mind, in the end, you accomplish all the other purposes to varying degrees. Take fiction writing, for instance. In general, the purpose of fiction is to entertain. In the process of entertaining, however, writers explain many things, inform readers through description and sometimes even provide valuable real-life knowledge, and, in the end, influence readers. Whether the influence simply motivates readers to read more or moves them to step out of their comfort zones and do something new or different, there is no doubt that people have been influenced. Indeed, many a great work of literature has spurred actions and events that are pandemic. The way people think or see things is often influenced by some literary piece, fiction or non-fiction. Literature has the ability to move people so powerfully that societies and religions have been founded on the written word. I don’t need to name books or other works here, because I’m certain you already have some such influential work in mind. In many ways, writers could be motivated by the same singular desire to be immortalized in their works, because otherwise, they would not want a physical record of their work. When successful, it certainly is much better than anyone else’s fifteen seconds of fame!

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Cindy’s Rules for Writers #4

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Rule #4

Read. Everyday, whenever you have a bit of time, read. Not just anything, although that is good for a different reason, but the kind of writing that you want to do. If you want to be a journalist, read newspapers and magazines. If you want to be a novelist, read novels. If you want to be a poet, read poetry. Not just a little, but a lot. Get to know different styles of writing. Read works by great writers that you can model your writing after. Yes, I believe a lot of what you learn as a writer can happen by osmosis–in this case, just reading a lot of excellent writing–because you remember a bit of what you read (if your memory is better, you’ll remember a lot!), and what you remember will seep into your writing. But don’t just read excellent writing. Read the really bad writing too, and those in between. If you can distinguish the bad writing from the good writing, you’ll be able to apply that to your writing. You will know when your writing is good and when it is bad. You will learn how to avoid the bad writing and write better. I’m willing to bet that no good writer ever became good at writing without having reading a lot. What are you waiting for? Go get something to read!

Cindy’s Rules for Writers

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1. If you want to be a writer, write! Don’t just think about it. Don’t just talk about it either. Write as much as you can whenever you can. You can’t be called a writer if you’re not writing anything. It doesn’t have to be fancy. It can be words. It can be sentences. Words grow into phrases, phrases into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, paragraphs into stories.