The Benefits of Being a Writer

The other day I ran into a guy that used to come into the coffee shop I worked in, a guy that shared a similar love for writing that I did and who was now, or would be soon, going to school for English. We talked for a moment and then parted ways, but I couldn’t help thinking of how envious I was of his position. Sure, college, an artistic degree, English in particular, is far from being sunshine and roses–there’re papers you don’t care about, pieces of work you have no interest in studying–but I miss being an English major if for nothing else than because I was around other writers.

I’ve made this point before, but I am of the belief that more people should write. Too many believe that if you’re going to write, or draw, or knit–what have you–then you have to be doing it for money, else it isn’t worth doing. Others believe that because they aren’t particularly good at writing, they have no business doing it–that they should leave it to the professionals; “let the janitor clean it up, that’s his job,” if you will.

But that isn’t true.

I could make the case that a handful of the individuals I graduated college with, each of whom received an English degree, weren’t necessarily all that great at writing. I could argue that I myself was fairly hit or miss too and sort of lucked my way through it all. But I heard those same people–and I’m including myself here–make some incredible statements about their own work and the work of their peers. I heard them tie together obscure themes, draw to light difficult to read motivations, and contribute to the conversation a different voice than any of the others in the room.

As a writer, you’re a thinker–it’s a requirement, believe it or not. And having an outlet to think, and I mean really think, not just yell out politically into some Facebookian abyss, allows you to discover something more about yourself. I grew to know myself better through my writing. I grew to know my friends better too because writing, even if you aren’t trying, even if you’re lying or being satirical, is something that is always honest. Maybe not in content, but in way of speech, in tone, in voice and inflection and when jammed together into a whole, when the patterns become clear, something arises that is wholly you, whether you like it or not.

I am of the belief that more people should write because we aren’t honest enough with ourselves. We don’t think about the reasons why we believe the way we do, or think the way we do, or argue the way we do; we don’t take time to consider the why behind the what. And I know so many people with so much to say. Maybe they aren’t able to phrase it as well as they’d like, but they have the ability through a written word to contribute a different voice to the conversation and that’s something worth investing in–even if it doesn’t always sound so pretty.

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