Writing amplifies everything

In an attempt to remember what makes me tick, I reminisce about a time in my life I could not write well.

I was terrible.

But I wanted to learn.

The determination to be a good writer spilt onto other parts of my life. Serendipity, an amazing friend.

I wasn’t aware at first of the progress I made because of writing. I couldn’t discern and truly appreciate my mind getting stronger as a result of launching a blog in 2014. I did not connect the dots.

By deciding to publish my mind, I took the plunge into writing my thoughts, stories and ideas in public. I had spent almost all my high school years writing on pieces of paper, and the notebooks I set aside for collecting quotable bits from the media I read and watched.

The blog was me pushing past the doubt about whether anyone will care to read what my mind offered. I had to push past the self I had grown accustomed to, and writing was a conduit for that process.

Fast forward seven years later, I care more about writing for my mind. Sure, it makes me happy to know that you are reading these words. I appreciate your stopping by. But instead of getting worried about whether you will fall in love with my writing, I focus on writing for my soul. I speak to myself in order to speak to you.

That’s another profundity I stumbled on while chasing words: I cannot talk to you in a meaningful way if I don’t take the time to push past my own resistance — i.e. facing my emotional bugbears.

A decision to visit uncomfortable memories and thoughts can be a tricky experience. And to that end, writing gives me catharsis.

And so, as my mind strengthened, my thinking turned more lucid. I became a better reader, more voracious than I ever was in high school. I stopped falling asleep after five pages.

My mind changed. I learned to keep track of threads between conversations in the stories I read. A skill that a few years later became valuable in jobs that required me to synthesise information, come up with ideas, write content/marketing strategy, and present ideas for different projects.

Reading taught me different ways words could be written. I found people who write in ways that move me. Reading their work changes the way I see the world, and indeed myself.

Unbeknownst to me, writing online was my writing school. I set off a chain of events wherein I met new people, learnt new ideas, got feedback on my writing. And then there was a time I stopped writing altogether. But I picked up the pen and wrote again. Right up until experience taught me how words fit into business, and the different parts of society.

Writing is now my trade.

I had no idea it would lead to that when I began writing (talking to myself) inside scrappy books in high school. I wrote because it made me feel heard. I made more sense to myself when I wrote my thoughts down. I was also peeling away layers of ignorance and fear through the process.

So I hung out with the words and learned how others tell stories. My observational tendencies were put to good use. Thus I made sense of the world through writing.

I threw myself into the craft of writing, and found a way to read myself in the process.

Hence I need to place it as the foundation of my education again.

Writing has been a central pillar in my progress. And in retrospect, it is responsible for other talents I’ve developed.

For example:

  • I learnt to process and express my feelings by devoting time to writing.
  • Writing allows me the courtesy of a higher level of thinking. Hence I’ve learnt to build a note-taking system through which I freeze my thoughts, store stories, and generate ideas. I am building a second brain.
  • Writing is the foundation that taught me to speak well.
  • I have a latent talent to connect dots and synthesise information. Looking back, it definitely came from reading and grew stronger through writing.
  • And years later, I am able to work in writing, thinking and strategy development roles across different types of organisations.
  • Writing helped me build an audience of readers. Friendships sprang from the interactions, which lead to a wider perspective and growth opportunities.

Before the writing bug bit though, I had no outlet for self and creative expression.

In hindsight, writing spread itself onto other parts of my life because it exercises and clears the mind very well. And as a practice, it doesn’t get any more important than that!

** Sigh ** At some point I loosened my passion for writing and paid the price for it. My mind became wobbly. My heart grew unsettled. The mind started to disintegrate, pulling all of my life and energy down to the dumpers with it. It was an unmitigated disaster.

That’s why I truly get it now. Writing is connected to and amplifies everything else.

By THEMBA JAY

A Wordsmith: I write and edit. I speak and facilitate public conversations.

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