What I’ve Learned From Writing
“It starts with this. Put your desk in the corner and every time you sit down there to write remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life is not a support system for art. It’s the other way around.”
– Stephen King
I think we all have an inherent desire to connect. I’ve found writing is a great medium for connection. But I haven’t always thought of it in that way.
When I was younger I wrote because I was told to mostly as part of homework assignments. After school I wrote because my job required it. But it was all work. Of course I’m glad that I was told to and that I had to, because that’s how I learned. These were necessary steps. However, I realize now that useful writing is not at all about work. Today, I write because I enjoy it.
You can learn a lot about anything in a month of immersion. For me, the subject has been writing.
I’ve discovered the differences between two types of writing: journaling and blogging. Journaling has inputs and outputs that are mostly selfish, and blogging has inputs that are selfish and outputs that are selfless. Each serves its own purpose (which I’m far from mastering), but I’ve found that both have the ability to strengthen connection.
It started a month ago. I left my job for what I considered purposeful unemployment. Others might call soul searching. Either way there’s a lot of uncertainty that comes with the lifestyle. You have to find ways to cope. Journaling was my first step in finding comfort. I’m not sure what originally led me to it, so I like to think that it found me.
Just like anything in life, you get out what you put in. It’s all about mindset. Before you begin to journal, think about your intentions. As Stephen King said, “you must not come lightly to the blank page.”
I found that journaling has similar benefits to that of yoga, meditation or any ritual that forces you into the present moment. The feedback that comes from journaling is practically instant. You begin to understand yourself in ways you didn’t previously even think about, mostly because you hadn’t made time for space it. You reach conclusions from past experiences you had long forgotten. Ideas practically come out of thin air. It’s pretty amazing.
Here’s my journaling process:
- Brain dump — I start by writing down whatever I’ve been thinking about. These are mostly shallow, short-term thoughts that are plaguing my mind at the time. I’ve learned that what I think about during the day is mostly nonsense and remains an area for improvement.
- Intention — Once my thoughts are cleared out, then and only then am I able to move on to whatever my intention is. At times it’s difficult to get to this point because I’ll get sidetracked, often not ever reaching the intention. But I enjoy going down the rabbit hole because you never know what you might find.
Just as journaling provided me an outlet for building inner-connectivity, blogging has given me a medium for connecting with the world (well, really just friends and family).
I mentioned before that the inputs of blogging are selfish and the outputs are selfless. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the best part of blogging is the output. I discovered this completely unintentionally.
A few days after publishing a few of my first posts, friends (mostly of whom were historically reserved) approached me wanting to discuss my writing and how it related to their lives. I’ve found that if you open yourself up by putting your thoughts into the world, people are more likely to open themselves up as well. This sort of connectivity is strong.
I believe everyone has a story to share, yet very few people choose to share their experiences in depth. It’s too much effort and so the story that we hear, mostly in passing social conversations, is shallow. I swear to you, virtually every day I think, “I would love it if so and so had a blog.”
There’s a lot we can learn from the people around us. It often takes asking the right questions, but what if people simply chose to be more transparent? I think those who do not share have something to hide from themselves.
After you’ve experienced something really special, I invite you to tell people what you’ve learned. If you believe you’re not experiencing something special, I invite you to create change. Be grateful for your experience and choose to share it with others.
I know one day the time will come, the day which we should all work for, to make that decision which completely shifts one’s life path in a new direction — the opportunity to chart a new course. By that time, I hope to have built a system of values to guide me in that journey. Building the connection inside of us and between us will cement those values and its never been more important to get started than today.
That’s what I’ve learned from writing.