Why do I write? I never had to ponder upon that question because writing comes naturally to me, as do other basic human instincts like hunger, lust, and desperation. My father is a writer. Perhaps, it is a familial legacy.
This instinct, in fact, is such an intrinsic part of me that an idea without a pen nearly makes me jittery. Any day you bump into me, you can see scribbles down my sleeves. I cannot exactly pinpoint why this happens, but here I present four things that writing does for me and can do for you too.
Part of the reason I write is that the coursework at TISS, where I study, demands a lot of independent thinking. For me writing and thinking go on simultaneously, and at times writing facilitates thinking. Also, when we are emotionally charged, we tend to overestimate the situation. Writing helps us calm our nerves and have a clearer picture of reality. Your billion dollar startup idea might seem less glorious once written down.
If the skills of our species were weapons, writing would be among the nuclear ones. It is one of our greatest comparative advantages: an ability to preserve knowledge and communicate it to posterity. From stone tablets to the digital ones, only the ideas that were written down stood firm.
A great example is the very own Indian tragedy, where the tradition of orally communicating knowledge stripped it of authenticity and meaning if not the entire content. As a result, we have to rely on the foreign travellers like Hiuen Tsang and Al-Biruni to know about our own land.
If Aristotle and Plato were never found, our lives would have been fundamentally different. If you have ever gone to college, you would know how extensively these philosophers are cited across disciplinary boundaries. Their words, to this day, enrich us. There is profound learning in how they thought, lived, behaved, and conducted themselves. We can also relive our fate through them. They faced the same challenges as us and only the forms were different. Years later, someone may read your work too and find a new insight about the functioning of their time.
Somewhere someone is about to give up – enough is enough. They feel they are alone , weak and “unnatural”. They may only be different but feel trapped and meaningless. And then they read you. Ah, they were not alone. They sensed it and your words proved it.
Your writings are potent and can help thousands not to succumb to despair. Your words can be that fine decisive difference in someone’s life.
Writing helps me venture into my own emotional conundrums and those of my character’s. And when I think about my character, I am able to delve deep into the human psyche.
It is profound, because at first everyone except you seems “normal”, but then you discover that everyone has their own superstitions. Grab your own, and stick to it. The category of “unnatural” thus starts dissolving.
For instance, just thinking about why a certain character is evil forces me to come up with several plausible explanations. When I see someone acting irrationally, my first reaction is giving them the benefit of doubt. Perhaps something must have happened during their childhood, or perhaps they are going through an unexpected event. Soon the bitterness turns into compassion and empathy.
Finally, a practical advice. Many a times we fancy ourselves as “writers” and it creates a lot of anxiety to perform and write “well”. It can be counter intuitive and can make you freeze. Your solace will thus become a mental drudgery.The key hence is not being harsh on yourself. Keep reminding yourself that as long as you are putting pen to paper, you are a writer. As Don Shula has said, “The start is what stops most people.” Congratulations if you started!
The author is a part of the Youth Ki Awaaz Writers’ Training Program.