To young writers, from a slightly older one: on why I write, and how to make it meaningful.
I am certainly not George Orwell, but this is Why I Write:
Catharsis: Start off writing for catharsis. When you’re overwhelmed, take pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, and write. It is often the most emotional moments that create the most poignant words. Personal recommendation? Always keep a pen and paper handy, even when you’re travelling. You never know when inspiration will strike!
Social Cause and Effect: This works in multiple ways. As a journalist and a writer of fiction, I tend to write about issues that are plaguing both my immediate society and the world. This can be translated to fiction quite easily. Issues may or may not affect you immediately, but your friends, or people you know might be affected. Societal experiences need not necessarily be direct to translate into wonderful words.
I like to observe: This, in fact, should have perhaps been the first thing I mentioned. Observation is crucial to being a good writer. Watch everything. People, birds, leaves on trees. Traffic that goes by you. An insect on a leaf. If you can remember it, that’s wonderful – but this is also the reason I recommend carrying writing materials with you, or some way to record what you’re thinking.
People-watching (NOT stalking!) is also quite fun, and a wonderful way to spend time if you’re just looking for some peace and quiet. I recommend local parks. Take along a book to write what you see, sketch and remember.
Because I love it: In the end, writing should be fun. Something you love. You start off working on it, and with practise, you get better and better all by yourself. But by no means should writing ever be forced. Styles come and go, and yours will change too before you find the style you choose to stick with as an adult. But it will find you, and you it, as you continue to write. If it is forced, it is not a joy, and it will reflect in your written work. Do it because you love it, and as time and words pass through your fingertips, you will grow to love it even more. While my list may not have been like Orwell’s, this quote most certainly reflects my thoughts:
Writing is not a serious business. It’s a joy and a celebration. You should be having fun with it. Ignore the authors who say ‘Oh, my God, what word? Oh, Jesus Christ…’, you know. Now, to hell with that. It’s not work. If it’s work, stop and do something else.
About Anuradha Santhanam
Writer and communications professional by day, musician by night, Anuradha Santhanam is a former social scientist at the LSE. Her writing focuses on human rights, socioeconomics, technology, innovation and space, world politics and culture. A programmer herself, Anuradha has spent the past year studying and researching, among other things, data and technological governance. An amateur astronomer, she is also passionate about motorsport.
More of her writing is available here and she can be found on Twitter at @anumccartney.
A Writer's Tale
Scarlett Van Dijk
Writer of young adult, fantasy series, the Sky Stone series, poetry and short stories.
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