Thursday, November 1, 2012

The value of writing

Andrew Sullivan's blog "The Daily Dish" has an amazing diversity of links, making it an ideal internet site. Today, readers are directed to a brief but very valuable bit of advice on writing by James Somers.

He says, in no uncertain terms, that more people should write. Like me, he has friends who are thoughtful and intelligent, who read a good bit, but tend to keep their ideas to themselves.  Somers' thesis is that "you will live more curiously if you write." 

You will be more open to nature, people, and the world around you. You will pay closer attention and also remember what you observe. I might add that the writer cultivates an interior life, a kind of spirituality that many of us unknowingly long for.

He reminds us, as I always do to my students feeling nervous about committing anything to full sentences, that writing need not be formal; you can "just talk onto the page."  If you can talk, you can write. The rest is revising and editing. Don't be crippled by old fears of not knowing "the rules" or of remembering your high school English teacher's red marks.

As Somers says in his post, writing emails in which we share our thoughts and feelings with others might draw out from them a similar type of thoughtfulness and interiority.  I find talking on the phone personal and immediate, but I would rather engage with my far-flung classmates and old friends in writing emails since it is in this medium that I can explore my thoughts more thoroughly and express them more clearly.

So I am grateful to Mr. Somers ( blog) for this fresh bit of encouragement to the many people who want to write but are reluctant to do so.

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