To many people, writing can seem like something we do unconsciously—a skill that allows us to make lists, work through the office email mountain, and fill in those blank birthday cards.
It’s simply a way of recording for the sake of ‘not worrying about forgetting’. We abbreviate, condense and write for convenience.
The idea of writing creatively can seem time-consuming, pointless, or could maybe even induce a fear of failure. Why write something that isn’t going to win an award?
There is plenty more to writing than commercial success. Indeed, the commerciality of writing is a recent development in terms of human history. The modern world is a place of pressure, particularly for individuals in their 20s and 30s who feel the need to succeed and achieve. In the past, writing was often a more simple pleasure, and most people would write to entertain family, friends, or to pass down knowledge from generation to generation. Family history was shared via stories and written documents, so personally imbued with character and feeling.
During 2014, why not try to use writing as a form of personal therapy, harking back to a more tangible and personal form of expression?
We are constantly bombarded with information via our televisions, smart phones and WiFi that we hardly have time to compute any of it. We never stop absorbing data and hardly have a moment for any kind of output. It’s as if we lose our own voice amongst the different roles we play for the world and social media. We can’t remember our own song. Living this way without respite can lead to stress, confusion regarding our true priorities, and ultimately a lack of fulfilment. We may not feel quite whole, and lose the connection to the person we always thought we were.
Writing for yourself is an opportunity to make your own inner voice prominent above all others—even just for a few minutes of your day. It can link you to a bygone era of the simplicity of pen and paper, and give overworked, boiling brains a change to stop, breathe, and think things through. Sing your own song—and write it all down!
The process of writing is an act of active meditation. Whether by a journal entry or a poem, the act of thinking about thinking allows for a greater understanding of yourself, your motivations, and how you feel at the exact point of pen to paper.
Try it now. Turn away from the computer screen and pick up a pen and a sheet of blank paper. If you need to type instead, try that, but make sure you don’t have any other windows open to distract you. You have to think about yourself, nothing else. How do you feel? Write it down. Speak true to yourself. Listen.
It can feel like a jolt can’t it—feeling our third eye cease to look at the world, turn right back around in our skull, and stare at us, long and hard.
If this is new, that stare can feel quite unforgiving. The outcome may seem dark, empty, or blank. Keeping a regular diary acclimatises us to this ‘spotlight’ sensation, and hopefully as a result we can access our true feeling and thoughts more consciously, and more freely. Looking through past entries can show you the stages of your mind being freed from constraints.
If you struggle with stories, characters or poetry, it may in fact be easiest to begin with a simply diary entry. Find a book, perhaps a beautiful book you know you can return to as an old friend, and just sing. Don’t worry about making sense, being witty, or including any twists. You don’t need to write song lyrics! And definitely do not write as if anyone will ever read it. This is for you. This is you. If you still find this challenging, try to write how you feel write now, holding the pen, even in disjointed nonsensical words. If you feel comfortable, write words you like the sound of, rather than the meaning. Re-acquaint yourself with yourself, you live together in the most intimate way, after all!
If you’d like to branch out into other creative avenues, the first step in making your voice heard is to find inspiration. This is where the journey begins! You may find that you have all the inspiration you need at home, and you can use your surroundings and home-life as trigger points for memories, wishes you want to fulfil, and dreams you have for your family.
Embarking on your creative journey can also lead you to unknown, unexplored places.
Expose yourself to sensations in a new place. Take your notebook to a café, nature park, woodland grove, or bowling alley. Think of places that inspire a sense of awe or interest you in their quirkiness. Savor the world around you. People-watching can be an entertaining activity and highly addictive too! Watching other people can give you a deep insight into the world we all share, and perhaps offer some perspective on our own situations.
If you’re courageous in your writing ambitions, you can also use this opportunity to learn a new skill! Writing a short story about a gardener will open up a world of wildflowers, soils and itty-bitty bug life, whereas a poem about sailing could inspire trips to the coast, listening to the roaring waves and the smell of the sea air. Whichever subject you choose will be consciously chosen, and will undoubtedly reflect some deep-rooted interest, ambition or yearning.
Exploring yourself will inevitably lead to a desire to explore your world.
I personally find that writing increases my appreciation of silence. For many, silence can be uncomfortable and empty—simply a backdrop onto which music is played, or we have a conversation. Writing urges your mind to speak clearly and listen only to itself. Due to living in a busy world where we are pushed to achieve and integrate with so many technological interfaces, it can be a rare thing to listen to your own inner voice. But how can we know who we truly are, unless we give ourselves the chance to speak?
The Writing Legacy
The joy of writing is not only in the process, but in the end result. If you’ve chosen to keep a diary, it can become a treasured part of yourself you can revisit years down the line. A lifelong song to play back whenever you want to.
Pieces of creative writing can become heirlooms told to children. You could even challenge yourself to write some nursery rhymes or short stories to give as gifts to loved ones. The could be written in a handmade book, framed, or even embroidered onto recycled or repurposed fabric.
The gift of words, stories and tales is a simple one, but one that cannot be beaten for thoughtfulness, meaning or sincerity. After all, the greatest gift you can give to yourself is the opportunity to sing, and the time to listen.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Assistant Editor: Zenna James/Editor: Bryonie Wise