Why I like writing

There’s no perfecting writing. It will always teach you about how to structure your paragraphs, which words to use where, what style or voice or inflections to adopt, or how best to tickle your audience. At the same time, you can see yourself getting better piece after piece. It’s the perfect drug.

Thought I’d quickly put my two cents down.

  1. It exposes flaws in your thinking – This is the equivalent of bouncing your ideas off a friend before you explore them further. Writing about the ideas has a similar effect because when you put down your reasoning, it’s easier to jump between different parts of it and pick out inconsistencies. This is harder to do when your ideas are just in your head. Also, writing more often to hone your ideation can make you sensitive to alternate perceptions, and empower you to be your own devil’s advocate.
  2. You’re likelier to remember something if you write it down – And when you write about current affairs, scientific research and history, you quickly build up knowledge that you’re unlikely to forget anytime soon, not to mention knowledge that you can recall easily when you feel you most need it. The process of writing fosters a measure of introspection that can encourage you to be vocal about your knowledge, too.
  3. You can do it splendidly right or gloriously wrong, you’ll still learn something every time – This is because there’s no perfecting writing – whether it’s fiction, non-fiction, anything in between or anything beyond. Writing will always teach you about how to structure your paragraphs, which words to use where, what style or voice or inflections to adopt, or how best to tickle your audience. In fact, it’s probably for the best that your audience’s satisfaction-span is in the order of a few minutes on average.
  4. Despite the timescale required to perfect it (if at all), you’ll see progress from piece to piece – No serious writer is going to ever admit that he or she has perfected the art of writing. Perfection in writing is impossible. At the same time, you’ll see yourself scaling this infinitely high mountain. With every subsequent piece you write, you will be able to tell how you did better than the last time you did it. In other words, writing affords you the chance to see yourself getting better and better and better, all the time.
  5. It’s cost-effective – To write, it takes a pen and paper or it takes a text-editor (I’m not going to say it takes a computer and an Internet connection because you probably already have them). However, the point is not that it’s monetarily cheap but that it’s accessible in terms of resources; not that there’s very little by way of an excuse not to write on that front but that there are more incentives to take it up.
  6. It can be addictive – If it’s addictive, it becomes a habit much faster. Granted, writing takes a bit of time to feel addictive, but if you do it with the right kind of discipline, it can really stick on. All you’ll feel like doing when you’re bored (or not) is writing after that.
  7. It’s not picky to your moods but the other way round – Even when you’re feeling down in the dumps, there’s that down-in-the-dumps kinda writing that many writers have honed (Hemingway, Heller, Plath, etc.). And when you’re angry, writing can often be the perfect weapon with which to display it. There have been times when I’ve looked forward to one of my mood-swings so I could leverage the inherent catharsis to finish writing a story. Yes, it’s an abusive relationship.
  8. A body of work is always uplifting to look at if you’ve nothing else to hold on to – As a depressed person, I cannot overstate how thankful I am to have a blog that I’ve been writing in since 2009. When my day-job leaves me tired and feeling soulless, when all I want to do is shutter myself in my room and turn off the lights, I often also open my blog and just read through old pieces. It feels good then to be reminded that I’ve been up to something and that not all was for nothing.
  9. It can be all these things as well as a career – It won’t pay much and it can be a grueling road to the top – but not so if you’re willing to move to the Middle East and slog it out a bit. When I was in Dubai in 2010, content-writing for corporate establishments fetched from Rs. 9,000 to Rs. 20,000 for a week’s work. Sure, that kind of writing probably won’t make you happy but it’ll pay the rent and keep the lights on while you work on your novel. It’s not a bad place to be because you get to write all the time.

Featured image: A Stipula fountain pen. Credit: Wikimedia Commons