For me, words on the page have always been magical. That is, there was a power present that was greater than the sum of letters, spaces, and punctuation. I loved reading since I was a little thing. But then, along about age eight, I discovered that I could create my own words on a page. The world suddenly expanded.
As it turns out, I became a professional word person—a book editor and a writer. But my impulse to write is not special to people like me, who get to do it for pay. My guess is that, if there are ten people around the table, eight of them are drawn to some form of writing. One person is a closet poet; another has been keeping a journal for years; yet another person does all the composing when the family needs a history written or an important story told. A man in his thirties, father of two, writes sci-fi when he can carve out the time. The woman in her sixties, who has weathered various tragedies, writes meditations for herself and others who try to heal from trauma. Each person has discovered that writing is both a power and a release.
Next week on this blog, Days of Deepening Friendship, I will host a writing retreat, and I offer it to every person who writes, for whatever reason. This retreat is not about helping you with proper grammar—it’s more about helping you free the part of you that wants to speak through the written word.
Maybe you’re not even sure why you are attracted to writing or, if you aren’t yet writing, why you’re attracted to the idea of it. Here are just a few reasons we write.
- Writing down something helps us find words for an experience; often we don’t know how we feel or think until we begin to write it.
- Writing helps us stabilize all the details swimming in our memories so that we can recall a specific event that happened on a specific day. Memories are important, but they are slippery and tricky. Writing allows us to access memories a little better.
- Writing can be a powerful way to pray. Maybe you sit down, full of emotion and puzzlement, needing to reach out to the Divine. But how? Start writing—don’t even think too much, just write. In this way, true prayer can spill out and express the inner self.
- Writing can help us get organized. Especially now that we can write on computers, where it’s easy to delete, edit, move things around, and reconfigure our ideas, writing becomes an effective tool for our thinking process.
- Writing can lead us to the one thing our mind and heart have been trying not to confront. Something about words in motion can override our strong circuitry for avoidance. This is especially true once we learn to let our emotions and intuition speak louder than our rational mind.
- Writing can reveal to us what we missed when the actual event was happening. As we write down our memory of a situation, a series of events, or a conversation, sometimes the writing mind is able to fill in details and show us a progression we wouldn’t recognize otherwise.
- Writing will unfold wisdom we already have but have not yet recognized. The really cool thing about this is how you can decide to write a silly poem but you end up writing something profound in yourself that is ready to be heard.
This list could go on and on. But if this intrigues you at all—if you recognize yourself anywhere on this page—then I think you will find the retreat next week quite satisfying. I won’t promise that it will feel fuzzy-good or that you’ll write a bestseller—only that the process of writing will speak to your very soul. And it’s nearly always a good thing when we converse with our own soul. The Old Testament psalm writers knew all about that.
In one sentence, explain how writing helps you.
As a part of the upcoming writing retreat, I’ll be hosting a Tweetchat on Friday, October 4, at 12:00 CST. Use the hashtag #writethesoul to join in and discuss your experiences from the week. Ask me any questions ahead of time here on the blog or @VinitaKS on Twitter.