To me, writing is an instinct.
During summer breaks in grade school, I would jot down scientific names of reptiles featured on National Geographic and try to memorize them.
When I was eight, I was sick for a week and watched endless hours of MTV. Inspired by Britney Spears’ big hit Toxic, I penned a song of my own called Rapid and performed it in front of an electric fan.
If it isn’t obvious yet, much of my childhood was spent in solitude at home. Aside from the television, the notebook served as my companion. In it, I stored information that was important to me. It carried the details and feelings of the events in my life.
In fifth grade, I discovered blogging. I would narrate my pre-teenage memories and feelings on Xanga. During college, as I explored photography and creative writing, I went on Tumblr. After college, I started writing more extensively about my travels on WordPress. Now, I belong to a community of idea shapers on Medium.
As a child, I was stuck with nothing more than a pen and paper. Now that I can afford to have much more, I am most joyful with a pen and paper. Through them I can access a rich innerverse some may never get a peek of their whole lives.
That is why I want to share with you why we must all write.
1. Writing puts clarity and structure to our thoughts.
Nowadays, information is served to us within a second from the moment we need it. As a result, we become more passive and reliant on technology to aid us. Our screens wire us to move fast and think less.
Writing gets us to slow down and pay attention. Through it, we describe people, places, and events in detail. We carefully process our feelings and analyze their roots. Vague is defined, fluff is layered, and the abstract becomes concrete.
Writing is the means to clear, coherent thinking. When we put down our thoughts with the intention to present them to someone, we are forced to arrange our ideas in a logical flow.
2. Writing is a way to extract ideas and unpack emotions.
Great ideas are hidden in plain sight. Books and movies may stir us, but they're powerful to the extent that we process our impressions and write down how we can take action.
In lectures, we take notes to plant seeds in our minds. Writing bridges insight and action whenever we think of ways to apply what we learn.
Through writing, we uncover the treasures that lie underneath our encounters. We understand the glow in our hearts that comes after watching a stage play if we write about how it resonates with us. If we are left in awe by scenic places, writing captures the richness they bring. We want to remember the way our soul stirs whenever we meet someone captivating.
3. Writing gives us a sense of control.
Stephen Covey says, between stimulus and response is a choice. As we transfer our thoughts to paper, we make a decision on how we want to perceive our subject or experience. Must I conclude heartily, or should I sink deeper into despair? Whichever way we choose, we become aware that the process is deliberate.
I couldn't count the many times I made snap decisions in the heat of my emotions. Putting a time buffer between trigger and reaction improves the quality of my encounters, more so when paired with writing. It makes me aware of my reasoning, and frankly, how ridiculous it is.
We are a product of the stories we tell ourselves, and we begin to own that the moment we own the pen.
4. Writing lets each of us own our unique understanding of the world.
By default, our minds store little to no details of important moments in our lives. When we write, we ink our mark on an encounter that would otherwise be lost from memory.
The same event can mean the whole world to one person and remain ordinary to another. Perspective is what makes our thoughts special. Through writing, we capture our unique perspective and pass that on to others. Inspiration is a by-product of that.
5. Writing gives us a safe space to express ourselves.
Picture an iceberg, where only 10% of our thoughts are ‘above the surface’ and exposed to the world. The remaining 90% holds our hidden conscious and subconscious thoughts. When they are left unaddressed, they can manifest in unpleasant ways.
Writing allows uninhibited thoughts a place to live, hidden away from the scrutiny of the world. For some, they include bottled-up emotions waiting to erupt, and a blank page is the shock absorber. For some, they carry deep hopes and dreams waiting to be realized, through a blank page they come alive somehow.
We all have thoughts that may need to be fleshed out and refined to cultivate a healthier attitude toward things. You can say that writing is an antidote to insanity.
6. Writing prepares us to face the world.
Many times, I would sit typing away, recalling a conversation from earlier in the day, pondering about things I did and questions I was asked. I thought about how I should have responded to them differently.
When we analyze our thoughts and actions through writing, we can effectively self-correct. To create a record of our daily lives activates our metacognitive abilities--thinking about the way we think and behave. This way, we learn a lot about ourselves and fill the deep well from which we draw energy to face the world.
7. Writing reminds us of the gift of life.
When we write about people, places, and events, we document not only the concrete details but also the valuable lessons that come with our encounters.
Between the lines, our words remind us of ourselves. They remind us of our life, our relationships, our pains and joys. We own the gift of recollection and lasting exuberance that brings joy to our days.
8. Writing keeps us sane.
At this moment, I sit in my office chair at home, typing away after midnight. It has often been this way since the COVID-19 quarantine began nine months ago. No dinners out, no plays, no concerts. Just me, making sense of the world through letters on white space. It is therapeutic, to say the least, to busy myself this way.
The weather outside is turbulent--strong rain, heavy flood, thunder and lightning. Thankfully, I am cozy in my safe house, warm under a blanket with a hot cup of chocolate. The weather is the world, the safe house is my inner universe.
Writing is a privilege of humanity. If we only get rid of the barriers that keep us from putting our thoughts down on a page — fear, distractions, negative self-talk, we can explore the vast inner world in each of us. We can cultivate a quiet kind of confidence that doesn’t need validation from outside.
Hannah has been blogging since she was 10 years old. She writes mostly about travel, faith, entrepreneurship, and inner growth. This year, she started OwnBloom, a personal growth movement with a vision to empower people to direct their own growth and develop personal impact. Each month, she curates valuable resources, frameworks, and tools for growth through her newsletter, Bloom Box. You can find her work on Instagram, Medium, and YouTube.