Have you noticed that people often have a love or hate relationship with writing? My guess is that it is a result of years of getting blood-stained papers back in school with comments such as “awkward” or “???” or “wrong word choice.”
When a math problem is wrong, there is nothing personal about it. We aren’t offended or made to feel insecure. We simply didn’t know the correct answer. The same is true for mistakes in science or history. But writing…that is a whole different beast. Our writing is an external reflection of our innermost thoughts and feelings. The words we choose represent our desire to communicate with another. When that is graded, when that is called “wrong,” when that receives an “F”…it makes us doubt not just our writing ability, but ourselves.
Relearning to Write
As adults we often need to relearn our ability to write. We need to recognize that we all have stories to share and that only we can share them. No one else can produce what we can, and we have not only the ability to do so, but the obligation. Unlike anything else, writing becomes a permanent representation of who we are, what we have experienced and the lessons and ideas we want to impart to the world. Years from now we may not even remember an event, but if we wrote about it, we will instantaneously be reminded and transported back to that time and those feelings will become real once again. We take endless pictures when we travel to capture the places we visited, but how much more powerful when we put those experiences into words. And unlike pictures which only remind that person of that event, writing allows anyone who reads it to share in that experience.
There is a powerful concept in Jewish philosophy that choosing not to write is likened to stealing. It sounds harsh, but the message is beautiful. If you truly believe that you have unique insights and that you are the only one who can express and share them in the way that you can, then by not doing so, you are robbing yourself and the world of your ideas. Your lessons from the past can help others when facing that challenge today. Your message can bring relief and encouragement to strangers who you may never meet, but who need it desperately. Your words can impact, they can inspire and they can transform the life not only of yourself, but of others.
So never doubt yourself if your writing matters. It does. We need to hear it and the generations to come need to hear it. Just write.