Thursday, March 31, 2016

Why Write?

I'm not really interested in writing about writing very much. I don't have a degree in English, so I'm not sure I have the vocabulary for talking about processes, purpose, or technique.

However, today I listened to the song "Non-Stop" from Hamilton, and the refrain from that song begged the question:

"Why do you write like you're running out of time?"

"Why do you write like it's going out of style?"

The song's been stuck in my head ever since, especially that phrase. And it's hard to have a question rattling around in your head without thinking of an answer.

I do write an awful lot. Every blog is about 500-1,000 words, written nearly every day. That's the equivalent of an A Song of Ice and Fire novel every year or two, and that's just in my leisure time. At work every day I'm at my computer constructing emails, composing messages for our internal communications, and taking personal notes for hours on end. I honestly couldn't begin to hazard a guess as to my daily word count.

I don't write for an audience. If my intention was to build an audience with my blogging, I'd have either given up or significantly changed my approach long ago. It may not be obvious to my handful of readers, but very few people read this blog. Some posts don't break ten views. Very few break twenty. I've had a few get into the hundreds, but those were posts about controversy, and I'm not interested in making my blog "about" controversy. That's not why I write.

The fact is, I don't need an audience. Not yet, anyway. I may need one down the line, but it's not time to put effort into that yet. I still have a lot to learn, and a lot to think about.

That's one of the reasons I write so much. Every blog isn't just me recording what I think; it's often me figuring out what I think. I'm working through a question, an idea, or a problem. I'm advocating for my own beliefs or justifying my actions. Even my recent post about matching up Fire Emblem characters isn't really about video game characters so much as it's a window into my thought process: how I assign value and make decisions even about things as inconsequential as video game relationships.

I review movies to work through what I think the movie meant. I can't just say whether or not I liked a movie; I have to try to understand why I liked it, or what it was that made the movie fall short. I'm also fascinated by storytelling, so I often work my way through the plot of a movie during a review. (On that note, I don't recommend reading my reviews unless you've already seen the movie or don't care if the whole thing is spoiled.)

Another reason I write is simply to be in the habit of writing. This was my original reason for starting a daily blog, in fact. Every skill requires spending time honing that skill, and the hours and hours I've spent writing blogs have definitely made me a more articulate writer. I don't spend much time staring at blank pages anymore; the words flow... well, not quickly, since I'm still thoughtful and prone to examining my words before I write them, just as I do when speaking them. However, I find the words I want to write much more quickly than I used to.

In short, I'm writing to practice many things I feel are important to me: critical thinking and self-reflection; communication and and exposing my thoughts and words to an audience (regardless of the size of that audience); and the discipline to maintain a healthy, daily habit.

Anyway, here's that song that got me thinking about this. It's a good song, but it's from deep in the second half of the show, so there are characters and lines in there that won't make much sense out of context. I recommend just starting from the beginning and listening to the whole thing, if you haven't yet.

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