The Joy of Writing, and some thoughts thereon

I feel like I’ve posted a lot to this blog over the last few months – more than I usually would. But in truth, the general concept of ‘writing’ has been on my mind a lot, and not just because it’s something I want to make a living out of one day (as some kind of reporter). Last month, I hosted for a weekend retreat entitled ‘The Joy of Writing’, led by two members of community who both write (one mainly poetry, the other mainly lyrics). It’s cool enough getting to hear their work read out at entertainment evenings every so often, but actually being let in on their creative processes wasn’t something I was going to pass up in a hurry. Even though this wasn’t exactly the kind of writing I’d normally attempt, it was still exciting for me and I’m sure it has influenced my writing some.

One of the things that interested me about the retreat was how mixed the group was in terms of past writing experience. Yes, most of them already wrote fairly regularly in some way or other – a number of them had been told about the retreat through the Association of Christian Writers (ACW), who had a representative there too – but there were some who had never attempted to write, or at least had never attempted the particular kinds of writing that were touched upon (primarily poetry, journaling, songwriting and scriptwriting). It was inspiring to me that even though not everyone had written much beforehand, most of them gave it a go – and actually came out with some pretty good content in so doing.

I see a lot of people – in any creative sphere, not just writing – saying that they’d love to be able to create, but they can’t. Or that they don’t feel like there’s any use for what they want to do, because the world already has enough people doing it already. And I’ll admit, that train of thought sometimes makes its way through my head as well. I find myself wondering: does the world really benefit from my writing? Does the world really need another writer? What am I doing that hasn’t been done before?

Well, the fact is that writing is an extremely personal thing, and because we’re all different people, each of us is going to bring something different to the table. Maybe the world already has enough writers in it to last several centuries, but at the end of the day, all of them (us?) are just individuals with notebooks, pens and computer keyboards seeking to express their own unique thoughts and feelings. There can never be too many writers insofar as there can never be too many unique individuals willing to put down their thoughts and feelings in words for others to read and be inspired by. I know a piece of writing is good when it feels like the author has been honest and expressed themselves.

I follow the ACW blog and am usually a big fan of what I read. What interests me about the blog, and what makes it different to most other blogs I read, is that a different writer will post every day. There’s around 40 ACW members on a short-term rota that stipulates who is to write on every given day, and it shows through in the things that are written – I can tell that today’s post was written by a different person to yesterday’s, because there are differences in their personalities that show through in how they write. I can’t write exactly like Helen or Patrick, but they can’t write exactly like me either.

So with all of that said, let’s go back to the above questions and answer each of them one by one:

  • Does the world really benefit from my writing? Insofar as it benefits from you being you, yes. If the world benefits from Helen’s poetry, Patrick’s songs or anything I’ve ever posted to this blog, then it’ll almost certainly benefit from whatever you choose to share with it, since you’re of no less value as a person.
  • Does the world really need another writer? Well, arguably the term ‘writer’ is a little bit misleading here. It’s not so much about being ‘another writer’ as it is about you – a person who already exists – putting down your thoughts and feelings for others to make what they will of.
  • What am I doing that hasn’t been done before? Again, you’re being you. You’re being you and expressing it through the written word. And you’re blessing others in so doing.

This, I suppose, is what keeps me writing even when I feel least motivated. I have to remind myself that it’s not ultimately about keeping a brand going, but rather about expressing my own (inimitable) thoughts and feelings by writing about them. And that’s true for everyone else who writes. If any of us were to put down our pens or shut our laptops, then the world would lose something.

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