“A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.”
I’m a writer; so I write. There are many reasons for that, many motivations behind my never-ending dream to be a writer, to be a better writer, and to write more and more.
This week I want to share a tip that has, throughout my life, been invaluable to me, not only as a writer but as a human being as well.
Keep a journal. You’ve probably heard it before, and if you have but never started one, then you have no excuse. You have done the unforgivable to yourself. You have deprived yourself of one of the richest forms of writing known to authorkind.
One of those many reasons to write out there is that, like any art, writing is a form of expression; it’s a unique way of saying what you have to say, and sharing your thoughts and ideas with the world. Every story, every word is an allegory of who you are, written in the spiritual blood of your soul. It can be painful, it can be relieving, it can be joyful and elating and it can teach you things you never knew about yourself.
Then how can you do this, if you do not know your own soul? How can you write from the heart if you do not know how to write about your heart?
By keeping a journal, you’re exploring yourself, your thoughts, your feelings. You don’t have to share a word of it with a soul. You can take it to you with your grave. So you don’t have to be afraid of what other people are going to think; you don’t have to worry about grammar or syntax or style or anything other than everything you want to write, the way you and nobody else in the world wants it to be written. Not even the sky is your limit here; the stars and the farthest reaches of the universe are within your grasp.
Your journal is the record of your life. It is your every memory, it is everything you are, everything you have ever been, everything you hope to be; everything you are learning to be and everything you are becoming.
The lessons a journal can teach you about writing are endless: lessons about sincerity, emotion, self-expression, truth and honesty, authenticity and realism, and about understanding yourself, your own heart and your own mind; just to give a few examples.
One small caveat: Writing is about bigger things than you. Another reason I write, more than to discover myself, is to discover something higher. Through my own eyes, existing by necessity through my own spirit, I want to truly live through something above myself. I write to open my eyes, not only widening my eyes to the wonders around me, but expanding my visions to places and things nobody has ever seen before. I don’t use my journal to create a private world where I am God. I use my journal to keep track of my thoughts as I watch the stars. I use my journal to understand myself, and to improve myself, and to broaden my mind; the reason I personally write, more than anything else, is enim sapientia: for Wisdom.
Write to explore. Write to learn. Write to discover yourself, to express yourself, to be free, to be limitless; but whatever you do, write to reach for your star. Whyever you write, write for a reason. If you don’t know that reason, start a journal to help you find out. Then continue that journal; it holds memories, it holds ideas written when they were fresh, it retains and preserves everything you were days ago, weeks ago, months or years ago. You might forget, but it won’t. Your journal will be an invaluable companion throughout your writing career and, I believe, throughout your life.
One more caveat: Don’t live in the past. Those who forget it, are doomed to repeat it; those who live in the past, are doomed. The journal is a tool. In bad times, use it to look back on the good times and let it give you faith; in good times, use it to look back on the bad times so you don’t forget the lessons. Use your journal to improve yourself as a writer and as a person. The past is full of memories, the future is full of hopes; but the present is full of savor. Live it and please, don’t forget it.
Live, love, write. If you want to be a writer, write.