If you don't know yet, I just started my first year of university, where I'm majoring in English. That lovely bit of news is also the reason why posts on SOI have been so sporadic. Never fear though, I'm back! One of my first assignments was to create a manifesto where I explain why I write. At first I was unsure of the assignment and didn't quite know where to start, but after a week or so of humming and hawing I started working on it. I was amazed at what I came to realize about myself as a writer. It gave me a much clearer goal on what I'd like to write and how I'd like to write it. All that being said, I thought I'd share it with all of you.
The Selfish Writer
I write for selfish reasons. I do not undervalue the role of the reader, but I must be perfectly honest; at the root of all my reasoning, I write for myself first. I write to entertain myself with amusing scenarios, interesting characters or witty dialogue that I wish would occur in ordinary life. I write to create my own personal escape from the mundane bits of everyday life. However, I write for more than just my own entertainment; I write for my mental sanity. When I ignore my thoughts, ideas and stories my brain feels unsettled, like gears turning out of sync, that can’t quite click into each other. I write to unload my mental chaos onto the page; I write to organize all my strange and wonderful observations on life. I write to encourage myself to think new thoughts about old ways. I write to explore moral gray areas of life, because there are many, that all seem to demand impossible decisions. As Cary Fagan so succinctly put it, I write to reveal conflict. I don’t write to solve conflict, because that is an impossible feat. I write to pull inner conflicts out of the shadows, where they are often times forgotten, in hopes of increasing my (and if I’m lucky, the reader’s) empathic range. The form my writing takes is varied, but whether it be a short story, an essay, a novel, or a simple blog post, all of my writing is an attempt to observe life, in the different ways it’s lived, and to simply enjoy the pleasure of creativity.
Now that I've created my manifesto and seen the good it's done for me, I would encourage all writers to do the same. Even if all you write are blog posts, it's extremely helpful to focus your writings. It helps to look back on why you do what you do when you're having a rough writing day.
Here are some tips that the prof gave us before my class wrote our manifestos:
- Use bold language
- Think about any "Aha!" moments you've had with writing
- Talk about a writing role model and how you draw inspiration from them
- Talk about what hinders you from writing and how you can overcome it
- Be open to surprising yourself
If you decide to write one of these manifestos, and share it (sometimes they are extremely personal), I'd love to see it, so feel free to leave it in the comments or link back to your own blog. As always let me know what you think, and if you share any of my motivations for writing.