Society now produces more texts than ever, yet we rarely really write anything. Updates, texts and emails are increasingly automated because, for the most part, they were already pretty generic to begin with. They require no thought and they provoke no thought, leaving both creator and consumer with nothing more than a cheap, fleeting fix for their content cravings. The market has realised that it can sustain itself on this fast food, but the resulting saturation feeds the idea that anything not automated has become more and more like an irrelevant luxury for posh people.
This is wrong. Anyone can write. It’s not about writing a novel, or a poem, or anything else for widespread publication, just as cooking for yourself is not the same thing as opening a restaurant. We need notifications and ready-made meals because they save time, but that does not mean that writing and cooking are not useful skills.
When you write about something, you physically grapple with it. Writing turns thinking into an active process. It’s deliberative. It’s meditative. It’s real. Most of all it’s a physical action. While writing does deal with a lot of abstraction, it always manifests as something physical outside of yourself. Whether you’re typing or scribbling, you are engraving invisible concepts into the page. The process takes you out of autopilot as you come to know your thoughts and yourself. The mental and the physical become one in this activity.
The physicality of writing also appears in the ways you grapple with your thoughts. You can spend hours mulling over a single thought only to discover that, upon writing it down, it consists of a single sentence. The focus writing demands tears you away from the constant media feed that surrounds us. As cooking from scratch reconnects you to the world through your engagement with what you will eat, writing reconnects you to yourself by channeling your attention to what you are actually thinking.
Most of all, though, writing is a process that is open to everyone. All you need is something to make your mark with. There are no rules. There is no set result and nothing that you have to conform to. You can write about anything in any manner you choose, from the strict formula of a sonnet to the freedom of prose. There is no one way you have to write and there is no limit. If you can think it, it’s possible to write it. Writing is the ultimate thought puzzle.
So write! Sit down, open a new document or, even better, toss your computer aside and pull out a frighteningly clean sheet of paper and write! Write about whatever comes to mind. Have fun with it.