Sunday, July 21, 2013

Help When I Needed It — How Writing Gives Back

Writing is often seen as a chore. A habit you have to enforce. A discipline you practice. An endeavor you pursue. And all of this is true. Writing is a practice that must be honed and worked at; one that requires commitment and perseverance. We see writing as something we give ourselves to — an output of ourselves and our stories onto the page. 

But it's also more than that. Writing is an expression that helps us to get through all of life’s challenges. Writing provides a forum for the truths we hold important, and the difficulties we seek to both describe and further understand through our writing of them. It receives our words, like a good friend offering a listening heart. It provides structure in an often unpredictable world. Writing gives back. It gives to the writer, just as the writer gives to her writing. 

You see, often I fall in the first camp of thinking. I suspect most of us do. I like writing, but mostly I like producing stories that might one day affect the heart of another. I know some people who can't wait to write every day, which is totally great. But no matter how much passion we have to our craft, it still becomes work. As my good friend said to me this week after I described how much time I put into my work —"Books don't write themselves". And she's right. They don't. So we write them, dedicating hours and hours and restructuring our days to make sure to fit it in; and in that sometimes that feeling of "work" overtakes the feeling of "fun" or "passion", and habit overrides emotion. 

In theory, this is good. We writers want to be people of habit and dedication. But what about what writing provides to the writer? Don't we want to get something from this journey, too, apart from the ultimate dream of publication? Don't people say art should be for art's sake and not the end game? 

We could also answer these questions different, but here's why I'm writing this post: Last week, I realized just how much writing does for me. That's right. What it gives to me. And, to be honest, I could probably expound and expound on why I write and why choose this as such a major part of my life, but in this post, I'm just going to make one simple point, which I already alluded to above.  

Last week was a particularly hard week for me. And while I am more than happy to say everything turned out well, it was a difficult week to get through. It was trying. And in the midst of it, when there was nothing I could do but go about my day hoping and trying to be as normal as possible, I found my writing. 

Of course, it has always been there. But this week, I found how much my practice of writing helped me. In the middle of hardship, I found my writing a comfort in a way I had not anticipated. This habit allowed me to feel normal again. My characters allowed me to focus on another, very real part of my world. And above all, my writing was there - consistent, structured, unchanging, all determined by me. It provided the constant, reliable outlet that I needed. And before last week, I am not sure I ever realized just how valuable writing is in this way.  

No matter where I go or what happens, my writing is there. It's familiarity is comfortable to me. It lives within me and on the page. In times of trouble, I am sure writing will not always be easy. But the simple fact that it is there, waiting for me, ready to receive the weight of my heart or create something entirely new, that was a revelation that really helped me through. 

This whole writing thing, it's not a one way street after all :) Wishing you all comfort in your writing, and all good days ahead!

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