Write Now: Writing Can Be Cathartic For Some
Since I began this column some months ago, I have had several people ask me why do I write.
I always answer the same way: It’s because I love to write.
But I also add that I love learning about writing including grammar. After all, grammar is code behind the words. If one doesn’t know basic grammar, then one may have difficulty when writing. Another way to state it is if there were rules to follow, then there would be only words on a page left up to one’s interpretation. When reading, one wouldn’t know where to begin or end. Grammar takes care of that. One could compare grammar to HTML code. Without HTML, one may not be able to see a website or page on the internet.
For me, writing is everything, but I don’t let it consume me. I have a work-life balance of which I adhere. I do take breaks when I write to recharge my brain. When scholarly writing, I take breaks because I need to write in chunks to make sure I am covering all of the points I need to cover.
I also follow a routine that may be different from other authors and writers. I do follow the writing process, but sometimes I combine two steps. It’s how I write, and I am not suggesting to any authors or writers to do as I do.
I try to answer two questions: what do I want to say? How do I want to say it?
For prewriting — brainstorming — I don’t write words or ideas on a sheet of paper unless it is a long list of topics or ideas that I don’t want to forget. Brainstorming for me is usually ideas that percolate in my head. I may go for a walk and an idea may pop into my head or I already have an idea and walking helps me sort out the details. When I come back from the walk, I know exactly how I want to start. About 95 percent of the time it works, while the other 5 percent I have to figure out another way to say what I need to say. So then I start my rough draft.
If you can, ask a seasoned reporter what he will write about after covering an event. He will probably tell you that his lede — yes that’s how the beginning of a story is spelled — was already thought of during the event.
After one has a solid beginning, it is usually down hill from there. For a fiction writer, the rest of the information may seem to fall into place. And for the non-fiction or scholarly writer, after writing the thesis statement, it’s just presenting one’s findings to support the thesis.
For me writing is cathartic because I feel much better after I get some ideas on the page. Writing let’s me be me. If I am angry, I can release my angry words to the page without having to say any of them. If I am sad, writing can help me figure out why I may be sad.
Writing has been a part of me since I was fourth-grader in Persell Elementary School. While there I learned about the writing process without knowing what the process really was. Maybe the process had a different title, but I didn’t know it at the time. The most important things I learned about writing, while at Persell, were that writing is a reflection of one’s self, writing is very important way to communicate, and writing is a difficult task. It still is a difficult task, and if one can write, then one will be able to communicate. But even though it was a hard task back then, I kept practicing because I liked the results. If anyone tells you that writing is easy, then that person’s writing may not be ready for publishing.
I also love learning about other forms of writing. It’s very different writing a movie script or a play than it is a book. In writing a movie or a play, one has to follow a form. For both plays and scripts the forms are similar. And one has to stick to that form or one will be asked to rewrite it in the proper form. It was a daunting task before because one had to set tabs on one’s typewriter, where now one can download a program that will take care of all of the formatting, so the writer can concentrate on writing.
I can say this much: computers have made writing easier for the same reasons, but computers do not write or better, choose my words, but allow me to erase and move sentences to different places, where with a typewriter, I may have had to write the whole paragraph again to fit in a revision.
With a word-processing program, it is basically cutting and pasting.
When writing this column, my brainstorming session started as soon as I completed writing my previous column. I like to stay ahead. Sometimes when writing, writers may listen to music. When I write fiction, I sometimes listen to music, but I will listen to a drumbeat that has been isolated in the mix. The beat is the half-time shuffle beat to “Fool In The Rain” by Led Zeppelin. For some reason, that beat motivates me and it keeps me moving.
Rarely do I get writer’s block because writing as a journalist, I don’t have time to waste. And being a journalist has taught me that almost any idea can be written about. When writing fiction, I try to write about 1,000 to 1,500 words per session. Because it looks like a typewriter, I use the Courier New font. For some reason when writing scholarly papers, MLA wants the Times New Roman 12-point font to be used. I don’t have a problem with that except sometimes the font looks too condensed. It really doesn’t matter because the font won’t dictate how long the article is. The length is dictated by word count. The page count is affected by font choice and its size. A 12-point font takes up less space that a 13-point font would.
Except for this column, when writing a newspaper article, the story will dictate the length, so some articles can be long or short.
When writing fiction, some days, words come easier than on other days, while when writing a non-fiction piece, the information is readily available, the writer has to the information in the correct order.
Writing is different for everyone. For me writing relaxes me, keeps me sane, and makes me happy.
Writing is that easy.
Writing is that hard.