What we write about tells us who we are…

write

“What is the issue that is eating you up? What is the personal fear that you can’t resolve and you can’t tolerate? Are you getting old with fucking NOTHING to show for it? Then, write Invisible Monsters. Are you worried that your brain or talent isn’t capable of creating anything interesting or unique, and you’ll die and rot and be forgotten – failing everyone you love? Well, then write Diary. My point is, use the story to explore and exhaust an issue of your own. Otherwise, you’re just dicking around, playing “let’s pretend.” If you can be ruthless and honest about your own fear, you express something that other people can’t express. You can resolve your own anxiety – through research, discussion, experiment – and that freedom is what brings you back to writing.

What could you never talk about in a million years? Then, write about that.” – Chuck Palahniuk

I always find it funny when people tell me that in order to be a writer you need a vivid imagination. Or drugs. Or both. But the truth is that you don’t.
Then there’s this simple question: Why do we write? And why do we feel at times that only the written word can express our deepest fears and emotions, our love and pain and hatred; basically everything we can’t speak out loud.
Truth be told, writing is a liberating experience. It’s like shouting in a crowded place. It’s a way of attracting attention.
In real life, I don’t really like to tackle philosophical issues very often. Actually, I don’t like to talk too much about life, love, and other important issues such as the physical impossibility of death in the mind of someone living. More so, I usually make fun of those issues.
Why do I do that?
Maybe because I’m shy, and that’s why I’m a writer in the first place. Or maybe because I know that the written word has a better chance of surviving the cruel passage of time. I’m not sure, but I know that most of the times, in real life, I do my best to act as shallow as possible. Serious conversations kind of bore me.
I just listen. I smile and nod and act like I’m interested in what everyone’s saying, and then I go home. I go home and  write. That’s when everything changes. Because I write about what I love or loved once, about what I hate, what I’m afraid of, what I’d like to see changed in this world. I write about ambition and passion and courage and pain, and there’s nothing for me to be afraid of.
Not the people I shamelessly turn into characters, not the real tragedies that I turn into stories… because the same thing I do to myself. Every experience, every kiss, every heartbeat gets dissected countless times. Some of them find their way into my stories. And that’s a very painful process.
A lot of writers out there, if asked, will say that writing isn’t easy. But it’s not because of the rules you have to obey, or the conventions, or the need for a vivid imagination. Writing isn’t easy because you have to relive the most painful moments of your life, over and over again, and then you have to write them down, hoping that they’ll matter to someone else other than yourself.
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28 thoughts on “What we write about tells us who we are…

  1. Hm, I really like that quote. It’s true.

    Also, I don’t think that a writer needs a vivid imagination to write or even to write well, though day dreams seem to plague, or bless, many writers. I find it interesting how people who could seem shallow in real life conversation can actually be quite passionate about the world and wish to change things for the better and many people would never know that about them.

    It’s true what you said about how writing is not easy… we have to relive the crap and terror that’s inspiring us to write in the first place and then hope that someone else will care enough to read about it.

  2. Oh gosh, Cristian, I just tried to tell myself this very thing tonight before I sat down to write! Getting ready to move my copy to draft, edit, maybe publish tonight, with all the forces inside myself pushing me otherwise. I love this post! I’m pushing through. Thank you.

  3. I have a lot to say. I write from my heart zone. I write what I have lived, learned, endured and suffered. I write because my son is my mentor, my latest and greatest inspiration. He has a difficult TIME putting his thoughts on paper but does not have a difficult TIME expressing himself even when he arrives at the crossroad of Social Blunders. It is what I do for all those who cannot write. It is that which I aspire to. It is the question WHY which motivates me to reach the next story. I love what I do for each and every one of you. Visit http://nldrecognition.wordpress.com. NLD MOM/cancer survivor

  4. Anytime I’m writing a story or fleshing out a character, sometimes I’ll sit back and think Oh my god, this character’s exactly like X, or this scene is similar to when Y happened, or this character is exactly like me, and I almost always put those things in unintentionally.

    I try to avoid it, actually; but sometimes the influence of the events and people in my life would work well for whatever I’m writing, sometimes even better than if I just made something up.

    This almost goes with the motto, “Write what you know;” so why not incorporate the people, places, and events in your life? You know your life more than anyone, really.

  5. Awesome! This post reminds me of the quote “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” You are right, writing makes you relive your joys, pains, ups and downs etc but most importantly it helps to release the burdens you hold close to your heart so you can acknowledge how you feel and move forward!

  6. Totally agree. I think my writing also gives me a safe place to freely explore ideas, to help me figure them out before I spout word salad into a conversation. Also, the kind of stuff I write usually involves Superheroes and lasers … which automatically makes those ideas more interesting to me.

  7. I love that! It’s so true! Issac Asimov once said ” whenever I have endured or accomplished some difficult task- such as watching television, going out socially or sleeping- I always look forward to rewarding myself with the small pleasure of getting back to my typewriter and writing something”.

  8. So much realness to this post. Will say also, when someone reads they give it their undivided attention and if they get distracted they will go back and reread it so they “hear it” completely so to speak. When we talk our emotions and feelings people can get distracted and never dully hear us. Writing is our voice so we will be heard in full!

  9. Its true. Writing might be a hobby or a profession for some but for a lot of people out there, its like the release valve of an air tight container. The entire day or days or weeks or sometimes months of turmoil within is just realeased when I write. I could go tell a friend but the satisfaction that writing gives is completely different. It gives so much more clarity. Also knowing that someone somewhere is reading and is slightly more relieved to know that he’s not the only one going through that pain or suffering. Writing definitely changes a lot of things.

  10. So true. I am glad I found your blog. Writing is a cathartic process. I too find that I’m unable to connect in person often, but once my fingers hit the keyboard, my world makes more sense to me.

  11. This is really an inspiring post, especially if you’ve sort of lost your way in terms of the reason why you write in the first place. I think writing is just one form of expression that has its own value to different people much like other forms of art

  12. Nicely put! I used to think I didn’t have a vivid imagination, and still do sometimes, but I’ve written a few blog entries that have convinced me otherwise. I must confess though, that there are times I fear are may run out of ideas to write.

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