“People write,” he said, “to make sense of their lives.”
Brenda, an outstanding writer and member of our local writers’ group quoted that line from a workshop she recently attended. Being the excellent writer she is, when Brenda makes a writing point of emphasis I take notice.
People write to make sense of their lives.
The line struck me as profound and I immediately began exploring my own writing experiences. Is that why I write, too? To make sense of my own life?
“No,” I thought to myself, “No, I write to share what I’ve learned with others.” Trained and experienced as an engineer and manager, I began writing shortly after retiring. That’s also about the time I began to seriously explore my place in the universe.
Maybe I was subconsciously trying to make sense of my life in the big scheme of forever. Pondering further, I realized something else; when faced with life events that overwhelm me, I compulsively write about them. Some examples came to mind:
- When political rhetoric building up to the invasion of Iraq left no doubt in my mind where the administration was headed, I wrote about peace.
- When a young man went berserk, launching a shooting spree in Blacksburg, Virginia, writing about the ingredients of our culture that made his actions possible helped me make sense of it.
- When diagnosed with a serious health issue—something I had never considered or been concerned about—I came to grips with it by writing.
With hindsight, I guess I do write to make sense of my life. As anyone who has ever taught a class knows full well, teaching something stretches your understanding of a topic like no amount of self-study can possibly accomplish.
That’s what my writing has accomplished—for me. I hope that others benefit, too, but I know that when I write about overcoming fear, learning to love unconditionally, or finding life purpose, my writing-journey is personal and heartfelt.
Write from the Heart
That’s the other point Brenda made that day—writing from the heart is powerful and attractive. When it matters to me it will matter to others, too. Cranking out an article simply because one is due just doesn’t work for me. I don’t have the raw talent to pull it off.
I can do it, but the results aren’t satisfying to me and readers notice that. There’s a certain mechanical feel that results from “turning the crank.” Without the well-honed talent to turn out words that sing, my writing efforts must spring from the depths of my best insights and deepest feelings.
So that’s my promise to myself and to you; no scheduled articles, no deadlines, no quotas. Write when the compelling force to write surges from within. Write what I feel. Write from the heart.
Does this resonate with you? Do you journal, blog, or write articles when dealing with something very difficult to understand in your life?
How Do You Make Sense of Your Life?
If you deal with these things by other than writing, what do you do? How do you process and come to grips with events that disrupt your sense of who you are and what your life is all about?
I’d love to hear more about why you write and if you do write to make sense of things. How do you make sense of your life?
Sources: Image courtesy Flikr user Kevin Dinkel, CC Attr. Lic.