Why Write?

I’ve been writing a lot lately.  Some of it good, some of it.. less.. good.  And slowly, consistently, I’ve been getting messages.  Some from people I talk to often, some from people I don’t talk to so often.  The gist is almost always the same: they want to ask what has caused the sudden change from 1 post per year (maybe), to a post per day.  Generally the subtle undertone to these conversations is “Are you ok? What is going on?”

So yes, I’m ok.  And yes, I’m writing a lot, often half formed ideas, sometimes ideas that make people vaguely uncomfortable.  Why?

Serendipitously, a coworker shared a video on Facebook last week, which was specifically about how good the movie Arrival is.  Not necessarily good like entertaining (although it is), but good as in well crafted.  Thoroughly thought out.  Compelling.  It’s an interesting video (embedded at the bottom of the post), but it leads with an idea that got to the heart of why I keep vomiting words every day:

An idea, no matter how profound it feels to you, does not exist until you can write it down or… put it on film.

I have a lot of ideas.  I like to think.  I like to question, I like to get to the heart of things.  And I spend a lot of time doing it – walking, running, laying in bed.  But the ideas, when they’re just cycled through a quiet head on a walk, or mumbled to yourself while doing the dishes – even if they’re discussed briefly with a close friend – tend to be ephemeral.  They’re here, they feel important while they’re around, and then the next hour, or the next day, or the next week, they’re gone.  I’m on to something else, having almost entirely lost all the ideas or mental exploration I found so profound just a short time earlier.  Then in, time, I’ll loop back around, and think through the same problems again – with a slightly changed perspective, maybe – but with almost no lasting benefit from the previous round.

So I want to write.  Writing, especially writing in a context where other people might (gasp) actually read it and try to make sense of what I’m thinking, forces a different approach.  Suddenly things have to make sense, they have to go together, there has to be a reason for the idea, and maybe (ok, rarely) a conclusion to them.  And I think that, similar to physically writing notes during a lecture you actually want to remember, forcing this change in perspective, this requirement to actually form thoughts fully (half-fully?) means there’s some traction.  The ideas are better.  They stick with me further.

What’s more, I get better at explaining things – at forming thoughts at making sense of them.

So you’ll get more writing from me.  Maybe, if we all just really believe, the writing and/or ideas will even improve.  In the meantime, watch these well formed and interesting ideas about the movie “Arrival”:

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