Sunday, September 18, 2016

Why We Write - Jennifer Egan

I write. Everyday I journal, blog and read books that hopefully help me to write better. Why do I do this? Firstly I think from a young age I would write my thoughts on pieces of paper or in my teenage angst filled dairies and then as an young adult I began to write in journals.

I couldn't articulate why I did this then, but I knew somehow it made me feel better. It was therapeutic and a way of being more objective about what I was experiencing in life. Writing was a kind of philosophical or spiritual kind of self-care. Much of my writing took the form of prayers to the God of my understanding. I'd write down quotes from books and writers that I admired, with words of wisdom that helped comfort me and gave me strength.

I wasn't trying to be a writer, or to even write well. I certainly didn't consider myself to be a writer. This was for my eyes only. Most of it wasn't good writing but regardless I persevered, until eventually my writing improved.

"You can only write regularly if you're willing to write badly...Accept bad writing as a way of priming the pump, a warm-up exercise that allows you to write well "

                                                                               - Jennifer Egan, Why We Write

In the early 90s I got more serious and committed to writing regularly on a daily basis after meeting an art therapist who'd introduced me to The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. Everything in this book affirmed what I had already thought about creativity, but had never been told to me while attending art school. The principles were spiritual and made the direct connection between creativity and the Creator.

Journaling long hand or what some might call slow-journaling, everyday after a lengthy period of time, I realized if I stopped journaling for a week, I didn't feel right. I found myself physiologically down and out of touch with myself. My state of mind felt dark, detached, and feelings of negativity surfaced and were becoming apparent to me. I needed to get myself together and so I'd get back to my regular writing routine. I was afraid if I stop longer than a week, it would be much harder to get back into the habit, but I didn't ever think I would stop permanently. I didn't want to do that, because I had been writing long enough to know how good it was for me.
Finding this article today from Brain Pickings,  again affirmed just why I write.
 Jennifer Egan who wrote the book Why We Write, put into words, what couldn't be expressed more accurately and succinctly.

"When I’m not writing I feel an awareness that something’s missing. If I go a long time, it becomes worse. I become depressed. There’s something vital that’s not happening. A certain slow damage starts to occur. I can coast along awhile without it, but then my limbs go numb. Something bad is happening to me, and I know it. The longer I wait, the harder it is to start again"
When I’m writing, especially if it’s going well, I’m living in two different dimensions: this life I’m living now, which I enjoy very much, and this completely other world I’m inhabiting that no one else knows about.
                                                                        - Jennifer Egan, Why We Write

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