What is so special about the act of writing? As writers, many of us can bear testimony to the fact that writing is not as easy a job as some people would believe. Writing a novel, or a piece of non-fiction is not the same as writing an essay on a particular topic in English class. Good writing is not something that can be summoned at will. It taxes the brain, it takes regular practice to achieve a level which seems satisfactory. And even then there are days where you doubt yourself and your sorry excuse of a talent for writing.
Once you become a writer, whether acclaimed or not, you realize that big words are not as important as using the right ones. The right word is the one that comes to you while you are thinking of an idea; rather than opening up a dictionary and searching for a multi-syllabled synonym for that word. You also write to pitch an idea across. You have to write something to hold the reader’s interest. Writing is no longer only about the usage of proper grammar or throwing in a big word.
Writing is when you become a tiny traveller and your brain becomes the land you have to explore. Everything you require is stored in there, but finding it is an arduous task. There are mountains to climb which seem insurmountable, there are valleys so deep that the end looks like a bottomless pit. All your memories which you rely on seem to be rushing by in a murky river, whose current overwhelms you when you try to put your hand in to grab something, leaving you lost and frustrated.
No, writing is hard work. Having an idea is one thing, forming a coherent sentence out of it is another, stringing all of these together to form something meaningful is something else entirely. Writer’s blocks are more frequent than bursts of inspiration, whatever that is.
Yes, writing is therapy. But it is also, more often than not, the cause of our misery. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you just cannot seem to find the right thing. You feel as lost while travelling and exploring the depths of your brain as someone who wakes up in a strange country not knowing the language or the people. Sometimes it feels as though the amount of hardships you face, and the amount of sacrifices you make do not bear the fruits that they should. And sometimes, regardless of your previous writing exploits and regardless of the number of people who have lavished praises upon them, whatever you write feels like absolute crap.
Why then are we so in love with writing? Why does the written word appeal to us so much?
Maybe it is the process of analysing our thoughts, coming to terms with our ideas and hence taking us closer to understanding who we are that keeps bringing us back to this love-hate relationship. Maybe it is to create something that will last forever, even long after we’re gone. Re-reading something we have written in the past transports us to the moment we wrote it for the first time. Suddenly, everything that was going through our brain at that exact moment, every detail, what song was playing or whether it was raining outside seems to come back to us in a flash. We can suddenly remember what inspired us to write a particular piece. Maybe it is this form of time travel that so fascinates us.
Smelling an old, familiar scent from your past brings about a rush of nostalgia and longing. But re-reading your work, or any work for that matter whisks us completely away from the present and transports us to a different time altogether.
The pain and the hardship you undergo to create something you are satisfied with pales in comparison to the feeling of elation after completing it. You feel at peace, at ease, as if every instrument in the world were striking the same chord. It helps you cope with difficulties. Because on good writing days, nothing else matters.