Ideas for writers: Think about why we write…
I don’t know why I write. I just start writing and there it is in little digital fonts across the electronic page.
That’s not true. Not completely, anyway. I do know why I write. Sometimes. It’s to explore something that people reading my blog might be interested in. Inspiration often comes through someone elses’ writing, like the Adelaide academic writing about the community food movement recently. What she wrote about were things I have thought about only briefly. I was well aware of them but I hadn’t bothered to explore them in mind and word. Her writing inspired me to explore them more fully. I did that and as I write comments largely favourable are coming into my social media feed.
Word and image
I also write to accompany photographs on my blog, or is it that I make photographs to accompany my writing? It’s both, really. Both are so closely entwined I coundn’t separate them.
Once, now quite some years ago at a photojournalism course, the instructor told me how fortunate I was to be able to write as well as make photographs. That would make my work more salable to editors, he assured me. He was right. It’s that combination of the visual and the textual that I now find difficult to separate. In fact, one of the first things I did on opening this blog page was to look for the ‘insert media’ button to include a photograph.
Writing as brain dump
Just this afternoon my partner said that I sit here with my brain dumping words onto a page. It’s what I do all day, she said. That’s not quite true, however it is somewhat true.
It is as if writing is a part of me and that, just as I speak as part of being me, so do I write. Maybe that is why I prefer to dicsuss things with colleagues and even with strangers via social media or email rather than by phone or, as we call it today, ‘voice mail’, a peculiar term for someone brought up and educated in the days when the only options to communciate were the spoken word or the printed, one-to-one format of letters.
An overpriced notebook and a pen
Once, not so long ago, I would carry a notebook — 0ne of those A6 size, overpriced Moleskinnes — and a pen. I would go into cafe, order a coffee and croissant, and sit there observing and writing about people in the cafe — what they looked like, my guess at their age, the clothes they wore and what they suggested and, when I could hear them, what they talked about.
It was an observation and writing exercise and I didn’t do anything with those notes I wrote. What it did was make me focus on the minutaea, the detail that we often overlook in out daily activities. I think that observational writing benefited me because I now find I notice those small details when I sit, coffee in hand in some cafe, even if I no longer write notes about what I see.
Writing as learning
Some people learn by reading. Others by watching video. I learn, I realise now, by writing. It’s like thinking textually.
This is to do with that exploration-by-writing that I mention at the start of this story. Sometimes I just write down ideas and things I read as a set of notes, and sometime in doing that I stop and start to assemble those notes into a coherent article. That just sort of happens. Other time I’ll read something and start to write an article that is both my way of learning more, for writing necessitates research, and of exploring something and constructing that information in a form that can be published on a blog.
Yes, that’s it. That’s the reason I write. To explore. To generate discussion about things others leave untouched. Doing this, I realise, is part of me… words are part of me as are images… combined, they constitute that brain dump my partner mentioned just this afternoon.