Why do I write?

Because I can

Why do I write?
Photo by Aaron Burden / Unsplash

Writing has been second nature to me. Isn't it the first thing we are thought in school after the alphabet? Of course, from a means of communicating, capturing notes and giving exams, writing has always been a part of our lives. But after college, it's a practice that falls through the cracks. Despite this, I have always found myself drawn to the art.

In the April 1st edition of the Startupy newsletter, Sari talks about her push to curate by taking an excerpt from Octavia Butler's notes on why she writes:

I am not a people-person in the usual sense. Much of the time I’m a hermit. Yet I have a human need to reach out to my fellow beings, and feel that I’ve touched some of them.

I found myself empathizing with this point and then I pondered deeply on the question of why do I write.

Octavia Butler's notes

It has been 4 months now (quite a while if you think about it) and I believe I have got my thoughts on this together. So, without further adieu, I write

Because I can freeze time

Writing helps me capture the moment. It is like taking a picture with words. Sometimes, when I read what I wrote, I am transported to the moment, the place and the state of mind I was in during that time. It has always proven effective in freezing a moment in time and storing it for eternity.

The same can be said for a photograph, but there is something about words, that even when only about 999 are used, it just captures things differently.

Because I can extend my memory

Human memory is limited. No matter how much we try to store all the information we receive, every night our mind resorts to a clearing process to make space for the next day. Only the essential are retained.

Moments and moment-fragments can be captured in this form to be referred to in the future. My memory gets an indefinite extension in the notes I take.

Because I am a creator of stories

I have always loved reading. In fantasy, I have found heroes, villains, life and magic exemplified. To be given such a power to create and not make use of it is such a shame. With writing, I can build kingdoms and create worlds of my own.

Because I am an egoist, and the power to create and manipulate whole worlds pleases my vanity.

Stories and characters are brought to life with the power of my words. I take them on adventures from the start of time to the end of space. I chart destinies across stars and oceans.

Because it helps me organize my thoughts

Writing helps me slow down and reign in the chaos of my mind. Whenever I find myself thinking a lot, I take the opportunity to write, to put down in words and bring some structure to the mess.

Those times, where I am plagued by thoughts, I try to write and describe as much as I can. I untangle the mess and look for the story, of what is the source of it all.

"It is the most powerful weapon you can provide someone with."

Writing helps me streamline my thoughts and channel the energy into something productive.

Because I can work it all out

Whenever I find myself contemplating on a problem, there is an array of thoughts and possibilities. One of the greatest disadvantages of a train of thought is that it may all seem connected in the head, but when we actually bring it out, there are many holes in the thought process. Writing helps me identify the flaws in my logic and work out all that is in my mind. It helps me form connections where there seem to be none.

This way I get to see my choices and understand consequences. Outlining paths and possibilities on paper is the best way to gain insight, share knowledge and learn.

Because I love the feel of a fountain pen on paper

The feeling of a fountain pen on paper, esp. if it's good quality paper, is just amazing. There is always something to write, but when I find myself drawing a blank, I write just for this feeling. It's the delightful sensation of scratching the pen on paper that motivates me to write, even when I'm unsure of what to say.

If writing is the most powerful tool in our arsenal, a good fountain pen is the bullet that does the job with precision and finesse (I drew this comparison just for the sake of it. I couldn't resist 😅).

Because I can

I write because I can. It is one of the greatest abilities I have and like I said before, it would be a shame to not put it to use.

"Some wield a sword, some a bow, some a gun, some a paint brush, but for me, my weapon of choice is the fountain pen."

In Closing

Sometimes, we tend to dismiss that which comes easy to us. We let the skill rust and remain unused while we focus on honing the new and difficult.

But trust me, the feeling that comes when I pick up that pen and bring it to the paper is just incomparable. The curves as I write and the words that flow takes me to places I did not imagine or at least ones I was already in.


I wanted to close by quoting Sari, who aspired to Isak Dinesen’s way:

"Write a little every day, without hope and without despair. What a way to live! To make! To be!"