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Five Reasons to Write

The written word has the power to transform us. From the dawn of time, stories have shaped our world. They have moved us and inspired us to make love, to forge peace, and to wage war. From The Illiad to the Bible, the myths, the stories, the fables we tell reflect our deepest needs, our common fears, and our innermost motivations intrinsic to mankind-across time, place, and civilizations.

Whilst writing, we burrow beneath the artificial social roles that confine us; we shed the superficial social veneers that inhibit us, and we reconnect to our essential selves-our primordial being. Through the act of writing, we rediscover our forgotten dreams and unrealized ambitions. We unearth our deepest desires, and we remember who we really are.

If those aren’t reasons enough to sit down and tackle that life-affirming short story you’ve been daydreaming about since college or the heart-wrenching memoir that’s been floating around in your head for the last ten years, then here are five more reasons to write.

1. The written word is the closest thing we have to immortality. Whether it’s journaling, blogging, or novel writing, through the act of writing, we achieve a brief brush with the infinite. With over 6.5 billion people on the planet, writing is a means of recording our lives and giving voice to our struggles, our hopes, and our dreams.

In the words of Bret Lott in “Towards a Definition of Creative Nonfiction,” Lott writes, “[Writing] is, in one form or another, for better and worse, in triumph and failure, the attempt to keep from passing altogether away the lives we have lived.”

2. Writing clears our mind and clarifies our dreams. In a modern world moving at lightning fast speeds, it’s easy to lose our way in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. But writing is a mechanism for reconnecting with the life’s path. Through the written word, we can access our motivation and recommit to the track we’re on. Or if need be, we can change it.

In the words of blogger Joel Falconer, “Discontentment, disillusionment, and unhappiness often come from forgetting why we’re doing something… and it is important to keep those simple reasons at the forefront of [our] mind or [we] run the risk of letting [our] life become a series of boring, menial actions.”

3. Writing is empowering. As stated earlier, writing helps uncover our deepest desires and innermost ambitions. But if we don’t know what we want, we certainly can’t achieve it. As writing unlocks our dreams, we become empowered to achieve them. Knowing what we want, we can now create a realistic plan towards achieving those goals.

Five years ago, I was living in a single-occupancy hotel room in San Francisco and working a job that was unfulfilling. I was lonely, frustrated, and bitter about life. Through the act of journaling, I rediscovered a passion for music, especially blues and jazz music. I bought a guitar and signed up for lessons at the local community music center. Within one year, I was gigging, recording, and playing with some of my favorite jazz and blues artists in San Francisco. Within five years, I earned a music degree, I’ve played hundreds of shows, and I now teach guitar for living.

Anything is possible. But first, we have to know what we want if we’re to fully realize our dreams. In the words of Pablo Picasso, “Everything [we] can imagine is real.”

4. Writing cultivates our analytical skills. Let’s face it; America is a country of experts. Since our childhood, we are taught to defer to the opinion of the experts, whether they’re parents, teachers, coaches, priests, politicians, or the nightly roundup of talking heads.

Writing is an exceptional tool for reflecting on the issues and overcoming the confines of groupthink. Think about it, where would the world be without history’s brave critical thinkers like Galileo, Socrates, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., or Albert Einstein? Each one of these vaunted intellectuals challenged the accepted dogma of their day, and in the process, they redefined the world and renewed the scope of possibility.

5. Writing tears down barriers. There’s never enough time in the day to write, to practice an instrument, to read a good book, to engage in an exciting conversation with a close friend, or to take a long, slow walk holding hands with the people we love. You know, to do the things that really matter.

But taking the time to enjoy life, to engage our minds, and cultivate our creative talents is essential to our well-being and our happiness. Let’s face it; we’re all living in a world with walls-with barriers that confine us. After all, we all have jobs and responsibilities and bills to pay and rent due or kids to feed. In a world with so many demands, there’s never enough time in the day; that is, until we make time. So, trade in the old T.V. for a notebook and a pen. And write. Write with reckless abandon. Be daring and audacious. Write with unbridled passion and watch the walls turn to dust.