Why write?

I am joining the throws of young adults who feel their lives are interesting enough to document on the internet. For the whole world to see. I started a blog. I’m not sure what I want to accomplish on this platform, other than giving myself an outlet to write. And write and write and write. I’ve always loved writing. I love the way my fingers fly across the keyboard. I love the “click-clack” of the keys as the letters march across the screen. I love the way I can press a pen or pencil on paper and get my thoughts down, corral them on one (but usually more than one) sheet of paper.

I’m a runner.  I love to get out and listen to the way that my shoes collide with the pavement, a satisfying noise that reminds me with each and every step that I am moving forward.  I am accomplishing something.  As hard as it is sometimes to lace up shoes and start my watch, I’m never not happy that I ran.  Perhaps, in a sense, writing for me is a form of exercise.  It’s a cathartic, controlled release of my feelings onto paper (or screen).  It forces me to confront the feelings that are swirling through my mind and sort through them and examine them in a thoughtful, deliberate manner.  I can look back and see myself in the words on the page and see something that is done.

Molly Wizenberg, a blogger-turned-published-author (who still writes one of my favorite food blogs, Orangette), wrote a speech last year about this very topic.  I think she says it better than I could ever say it myself.

But a lot of the time, to be honest, I’m disappointed.  I look at something I wrote last month, and I wish I could have done it better.  Maybe you know that feeling.  It’s uncomfortable – it’s awful – but I’m trying to teach myself a different way to feel about it.  I’m trying to see it differently.  I’m trying to see that discomfort as a good thing.  We’re all in this together.  We’re all uncomfortable.  I can only do the writing that I can do that day.  You can only take the picture that you can take today.  Tomorrow, with work, maybe I’ll be a better writer, I hope.  God, I hope. Tomorrow, maybe you’ll be a better writer. Or you’ll be a better photographer.  Or you’ll make a better recipe.  The key is in the act itself, in the fact of showing up and doing today’s work.

What my blog does is force me to show up.  That’s huge.  A lot of writers and creative people have said things along the lines of, ‘Showing up is 90% of the work,’ and that’s certainly true for me.  Sometimes, the last thing I want to do is sit down and write.  But if I show up, time and time again, it’s worth it.  Even if I think I don’t have anything to say, chances are, if I show up, and if I really put on a good show and act like I have something to say, I will. (My friend George is a poet, and he has a sweatshirt that he wears every single time he sits down to write. It’s his way of acting the part, until he feels the part.) Some of my favorite pieces of writing have come out of days when I thought I had nothing to write.  There is no ideal condition for producing creative work.  I have to remind myself of that every day. You make the conditions ideal by showing up, period. Blogs help us show up, and that’s priceless.


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