Writing: Paradise or Imprisonment?

Writing is a privilege that most people in the developed world obtain at a young age. This ability arms us with power and agency through expression. We derive this power and agency from such a capability; it is liberating yet dangerous in offering boundless possibilities to spark change and instigate thought.  A strength comes from the written word that is arguably temporary in speech. Whilst words dissolve in the air once spoken, the written remains permanent.

The act of carefully selecting words, and wielding a pen like a knife in which to carve out thoughts, is intimate. In today’s technological climate, it is convenient to use laptops or phones to realise our thoughts (I am heavily reliant on them myself!) But, there is a feeling of power that comes with the act of writing. Holding a pen in your own hand, and feeling the paper under your fingers as you scrawl your deepest, darkest thoughts across the page. The blank sheet is your canvas; the writing tool a brush, with which master pieces are made. It is personal and freeing. You feel more connected to the experience of writing when approaching it this way. Words become a physical manifestation of parts within yourself that you are not prepared to show the rest of the world. The way you dot your i’s and cross your t’s; the choice of writing cursively or having each letter stand isolated; it speaks true of your character.

Writing can feel like being in paradise; in that moment you are the purest, most honest version of yourself. It is easy to splurge onto a blank piece of paper, because it’s literally objective. It is unable to shut down your ideas or disregard thought; the writer has no limits with this and the possibilities seem endless. However, one can argue instances where writing can be somewhat restrictive.  As a literature student, language is approached analytically. Countless hours are spent meticulously investigating the effect of words. Everything is done with reason and attempting to uncover this, in a scholastic manner, can be stifling.  Having to approach writing as a subject of study, rather than a form of liberation, does leave you turning away from it at times. Having said this, enjoyment can be found in this style of writing. You are made to think deeply about literary devices, such as language and form, in ways unaccommodating to blindly skimming over a text. Such close readings give birth to new and exciting forms of interpretation with minute devices, such as punctuation, completely changing your reading experience.

A creative writer or storyteller uses writing as a tool to make tangible the implausible; maybe also aiming to create a narrative that relates to people from many walks of life. Either way, it becomes a form of escapism. In a single moment, the reader leaves the present and is taken to a place that transcends reality. The journalist may aim to educate through reporting current affairs, or to make you think on a topic in ways that contrast with your initial beliefs. Either way there is a theme here: writing inspires. Not only is the writer enthused by the act, the audience can see the world through a different lens. This opportunity for fresh perspective and vivid thought instigates a chain of new ideas that conceives further inspiration. Power comes from making the abstract a part of the physical world. The reader is transported from one space to another- this being of a character or the writer themselves.

From this perspective, writing isn’t a gift or skill, but rather a necessity. We need to write to connect with the deepest parts of ourselves. Where spoken word fails, pen and paper remain standing. You may fumble over your words or freeze in scenarios of public speaking. However, curled up on your bed or in the corner of a coffee shop with a notepad and paper- there is nothing holding you back. There is no need to speak at all. You are purely authentic. One doesn’t need to hide behind a guise, because when writing, words make abstract thoughts real.

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