Why I Continue to Write

I used to hate to write. My mother and I used to have a constant battle on when I would write, how I would write, and what distracted me when I wrote. I was eventually banned from the use of the word “interesting” because of overuse. I avoided writing like the plague. I was capable of being distracted by the most minute thing in the universe. My mother used to say that I could be distracted by a blank room with a single light bulb. Table or not.

When I would write for my classwork I would eventually eke out enough to complete the assignment, but I hated all parts of writing, including most especially editing. When it came time for me to decide what I wanted to do in college I was considering studying religion, but I knew how much it would require me to write, and so I was turned against it, possibly afraid of what I was going to have to do.

I kept a journal off and on during high school and college, sometimes writing some teen angst poetry and other things that we think are dreadfully important. When I graduated college I was determined to keep a journal, and so I was faithful in keeping it throughout my service in Peace Corps Kenya, for two and a half years. After that time, I decided that I didn’t like the way I was keeping my journal, and I decided to change from keeping an account of my day’s activities to keeping an account of my journey of thoughts. It seemed more helpful than a daily list of what I ate and did.

Then, I went to divinity school. For some reason, I felt the call, and instead of walking the other way, I entered divinity school, eager to see where it would lead me. The first semester was very hard. I felt like I was learning to write all over again. I didn’t have the option of not writing, and so I learned to hone my skills that first 4 months. The second semester, we had a total of something like 14 papers to write in as many weeks.

It was as if a dam was broken. Words began to flow. It was no longer like pulling teeth in getting a hundred words on paper. Writing became a instrument of grace to me. That summer after first year, a friend challenged me to write every day for a month. I wrote for 45 days straight. I did something I never would have considered previously, and joined a writing group.

Writing was no longer a hardship, but became something I enjoyed and actually looked forward to. Sometimes the assignments that I was supposed to complete were still difficult, but not in the way that any words on a paper had been before. People said they liked the way I wrote, and I was able to use my love of words in a way that was productive, rather than continuous consumption.

See, one of the reasons that my mother didn’t understand why I didn’t like to write when I was growing up, was because I devoured books ravenously when I was a child. I still can devour a book. I love to watch a story unfold before my eyes. But now, I can share other stories, I can build and tweak and grow a collection of words into a cohesive essay or story or narrative.

And, amazingly, I like to write. Even for its own purpose, even if no one else reads it. I like that I can use the medium of the written word to build my thoughts and draw them together into something that makes sense to someone besides me. I like the way that words have power when they are written in ways that they don’t seem to have when they are merely spoken.

And so, as I write, I find that my life becomes more ordered. I find that my thoughts have more direction, and that I am able to bring together what I want to say, instead of words slipping out of my mind just as they enter.

I want to begin to keep a prompt journal, a list of ideas that I have had throughout my day of things that I want to write about. Possibly a list of word pictures of things that I have seen as I walk or drive through my rural community. There are many places of beautiful disrepair that I want to explore, both with words and in person. Life is far too interesting to be unexplored. I will continue to explore this thing we call life in this place I have been graced to live.


1 thought on “Why I Continue to Write”

  1. Where to start?

    It’s apparent that you have a knack for writing, because your archives date back to 2009 and you’ve written this post very well. I’m hoping to someday get to your level of writing where I am able to sit down and, almost, effortlessly let the words flow from my imagination and out through my finger tips.

    Thank you for this read because it has given me some hope that my recent writing difficulties are only temporary.

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