Why I Write


(Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash)

There was a time when I didn’t write. For the first 3 or 4 years of my twenties I didn’t scrawl in notebooks, or furiously tap away at my keyboard like my life depended on it. I didn’t jolt awake in the middle of the night, hurriedly writing down ideas on a scrap of paper next to my bed before they escaped my sleepy brain. I didn’t write down random words or sentences in my iPhone notes, or keep a list of ideas stored away in a Google doc. I didn’t write at all - not essays, or blog posts, or even letters to friends.

I didn’t write because I couldn’t see the point anymore. Despite having taken a couple of modules in creative writing and contributing an odd article here or there to the student paper, I graduated with a degree in economics. And that degree had been hard won - as much as I loved my university experience, my studies themselves didn’t bring me much joy. My course was difficult and dry and serious, and at times, it felt way beyond my capabilities.

So finally getting my hands on that BSc certificate felt like a validation of sorts. Maybe I was as smart as all of the privately educated kids on my course. Maybe I could have a big, serious career with one of the many corporations advertising at the university job fair. Maybe I was destined to have a different kind of life to the one I’d imagined, complete with a fancy job title and board meetings and business cards.

I couldn’t see how writing slotted into this new life or my brand new graduate job, and so I denounced my creativity with alarming speed - I was a serious economics graduate now, and I didn’t need to waste my time with poetry or journalling or other such frivolities. Those teenage dreams of being a journalist or a published author were set aside, and instead I poured every ounce of myself into my day job, where I was learning how to master spreadsheets and calculate profit margins and put together presentations that someone much more senior than me would end up delivering.

But the urge to write is a funny one. It isn’t so much a conscious decision as a physical pull to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and use words to make sense of the world in some small way. After years of writing nothing more than an email, I suddenly couldn’t resist the stories and ideas and essays bubbling up inside of me. I found myself jotting down thoughts and ideas, scribbling the odd sentence in a notebook. And before long, I’d registered for a domain name, tentatively started typing, and shared my first blog post with the world. The rest, as they say, is history.

I found that once I’d taken the lid off of my creativity, there was no wrangling it back on, no matter how hard I tried. One thing led to another, and before I knew it I was writing on my lunch break and at the weekends and during my commutes. In the past 4 years I’ve published 900 posts, equating to more than half a million words, here on this little blog. That’s before you count the newsletters or the private journals or the rough drafts that never made the cut. For someone who regularly took a fortnight to finish a 3000 word essay at uni, I’d say that’s pretty impressive.

I get asked a lot why I write so much. Why I choose to add the pressure of writing blog posts and newsletters to my life when I already have a busy and time consuming job. But the truth is, I write because I have to.

I write because writing helps me process the difficult things in life, like grief, or mental health, or loneliness.

I write because my memory is sluggish, and without those half a million words archived here on my blog, I might have forgotten how funny our wedding rehearsal was, or how magic it is to hear your favourite little people sing and giggle.

I write because getting my thoughts and ideas down on a page makes them feel less overwhelming or isolating or scary.

I write because I want to remember what it feels like to fall in love with a new city. I write because I want you to have your own experience of falling in love with the places that have brought me so much joy.

I write because it lets me reconnect with those people who are no longer here, because putting the words down helps me to preserve the memories we made together for a little while longer.

I write because writing is the only thing in my life that I do purely for me. I write because it reminds me that I’m a creative human, capable of more than making quick business decisions or knocking up an impressive spreadsheet.

And I write because there is no greater feeling in the world than hearing that my ramblings have in resonated with someone. Nothing brings me more joy than hearing that my words have inspired one of you in some way, or made you feel less alone. Nothing feels as important as the fact that by crafting these sentences and sharing them with the world, I can somehow have an impact, or create a connection with another person.

To me, that is pure, real life magic. And for that reason, I'll always keep on writing.