I write a lot.
I write a lot of chats, texts, emails, tweets and the like. Now, you might say that that’s not writing. You might say that one needs a document or a blank page, that one must have a goal in mind to call it writing. That’s incorrect though. Writing is writing. One needn’t be a lecturer to speak nor an Olympian to swim. Communicating by the word is writing; so be it.1
I also write articles here on the candler blog and, sometimes, elsewhere. Everything I publish starts with an idea. Before I start writing a complete piece I can usually (usually) see where I would like it to end. Often I’ll even come up with a headline before I get started. There is a clear structure to these sorts of writings. As such I have generally approached them in as efficient a manner as possible, sort of like following a recipe.
The bulk of my writing, today, doesn’t appear on the web. Much of it isn’t even digital. Given how many little hacks and workflows I’ve tried out (and apps I’ve accrued) over the years, you’d think I’d have mastered digital writing by now. But I haven’t. And sometimes looking at a screen makes me not want to write. It’s not just about distractions, it’s about the form of digital text itself that sometimes holds me back.2 So for now I write by hand. Daily. Constantly.
How I write is another story. Why I write is my focus today.
I write to slow down my thought process. In my mind I tend to jump ahead while thinking through a new idea.
Say I have an idea for a new website. While I’m considering the site’s function (the idea) I’ll also think of names for it. Are there decent domains available? What would the logo look like? Typeface? Can I build it with Octopress or should I go back to Wordpress? Oh the domain is taken. Nevermind.
The idea gets lost while I fumble three steps ahead. If I write through the idea, though, I can slow down each of those steps and think through each part more thoroughly. Writing, then, helps me think.
The other reason I write is to remember. I don’t mean to recall an event while reading it; I mean I write to create the memory, to fortify it.
Last weekend I went through old notebooks. Some of the events I wrote about in them have stood out vividly for me over the years. I think they are strong memories not because I read about them again but because I wrote about them at all. Writing made them a memory.
I write so that I may remember. Publishing is a bonus.
I will add, though, that this is usually wasted writing. I often “talk” ideas out of myself in this manner. ↩︎
For example, a new document is always blank whereas I have to pass recent writings to get to a new page in a notebook. This is subtle but significant and worth exploring in another piece. ↩︎