Every once in a while, I need to renew my dedication to writing. It’s a curious ritual that I find myself performing every year, a self-imposed checkpoint in my writing journey. I’m sure many writers do this, perhaps with varying frequency or intensity. For me, I find that about every year, I need to refocus myself and ask the question, why do I really write?
This isn’t the easiest question to answer. After all, writing is such an intimate, personal affair; wordcraft is a complex tango between the mind and the blank page, a play of words and ideas, and a revelation of the self. Yet, as each year passes, I find that this question becomes more urgent, as if my dedication to my craft depends on it.
To answer this question, I first consider the many reasons that have led me to write in the first place. There are three that always immediately come to mind: the catharsis that comes from pouring my thoughts onto the page, the pleasure of playing with language, and the joys of connecting with readers and fellow writers. Each of these reasons, though valid and essential, can sometimes become muddied in the hustle and bustle of the writing life – the deadlines, the rejections, and the endless quest for inspiration.
So, with each coming turn of the calendar year I pause. I take a step back from the frenzy and find a quiet corner to contemplate my relationship with the written word. I ponder the countless hours I spend wrestling with ideas, the routine insomnia leading to sleepless nights dedicated to polishing sentences.
But I also meditate with satisfaction over the moments of triumph that have accompanied me throughout my journey. These are somewhat muted by the many lows I’ve encountered in writing, but those come with the territory in any creative endeavor and are but par for the course.
When I delve deeper into my motivations, I begin to realize that there is something more beyond the superficial reasons that drive me to write. At its core, writing is necessarily an act of self-discovery. In order to properly do my job, I must travel to the farthest reaches of my imagination and into the deepest recesses of my soul.
With each word I write, I have a likely chance to uncover a piece of myself that I didn’t before know existed. I’ve mined many a hidden truth or a buried emotion that has laid dormant for indeterminable times, even if what I set out to write didn’t seem to call for that level of soul searching.
Some of my motivations and challenges have shifted a bit over time especially in the past few years as I’ve transitioned from freelance writer to self-published author and essayist. While the obvious reasons are still very much in play, there is a fourth reason that has taken precedence for me as I become my only client; more than anything else, my writing is an act of defiance.
Throughout my life, which has been more often than not chaotic and uncertain, my writing has allowed me to attempt creating order out of the turmoil. Moreover, I needed a way to forge meaning out of the apparent randomness. It took me decades of laboring over my craft to assert my own voice, and I yearn to carve out a space for myself in the vast landscape of literary achievement.
As I mentioned earlier in the first three reasons for writing, it’s an act of connection. Through my words, I bridge the gap between my own internal universe and the wider world. I share my thoughts, my dreams, and my fears; in doing so, I remind myself that I’m not alone. I’ve been immersed in the online writing world long enough to learn full well there are others out there who share my passions, my struggles, and my love for creative expression through wordcraft.
But what ever may come with my writing, while I do write to connect with others, take pleasure in wordplay, and enjoy cathartic moments when the perfect sentence comes together, there is the overriding theme of defiance to consider. One major change I made to my writing process is that I intentionally write at a much higher reading level. This isn’t to appear pretentious, limit my readership, or be any sort of difficult. I’m going to write as my heart, soul, and mind agree that I should. I’m not writing to confound anyone, but help others to recognize what’s lacking in most literature today, a decided limited palate for substance and style, especially in popular daily reads.
So, as I renew my dedication to writing each year, I remind myself of all these truths. I must remember why I fell in love with writing in the first place, which comprises the first three reasons I mentioned. I also must remind myself why it continues to captivate and challenge me, which is the motivation of thoughtful but passionate defiance of the status quo. Each calendar year, I reaffirm my commitment to this beautiful, maddening, and ultimately rewarding pursuit of happiness and self-expression.
With a renewed sense of purpose, I return to the keyboard, eager to continue honing my skills in my vocation. Who knows what new adventures await me in the uncharted realms of my imagination? I have so many ideas yet to be realized, and so many more possibilities to explore. There is too much to write about, so I better get started.
Related: The Ebbs and Flows of Creative Juices | Finding Sanctuary in Writing