Sunday, March 13, 2016

Why Write?

Image: Wikimedia Commons
This is a question I ask myself often. Especially now, midnight on a Thursday, when I should be sleeping. Why am I here, seated at my computer (where I spend all day), still working? And not working on anything particularly useful to anyone else?

There are a few reasons I write, and why I enjoy the act of writing. It's about time I put them in some sort of order, to explain the value I get from writing these posts.


No, not discipline in the form of "not getting in trouble." I’d be fine and dandy were I not to write a single word. I’m using discipline in the sense of building a self-reliant practice, for the purpose of self improvement. It’s what I imagine martial arts is to some people: a means to develop one’s self. In my case, writing helps me put my thoughts into order, explore ideas more deeply, and find out if I’m right (or, as is often the case, to learn more about why I’m wrong).


It’s immensely satisfying to put together a thoughtful piece of work. That’s why I enjoy doing my job - it allows me to develop an idea from a hazy notion to a fully developed package. Often, when I start a project, I have a clear idea of what I want to accomplish, but haven’t yet mastered a full vision of the form it will take. Seeing something through from start to finish is a good feeling, whether it’s creating a piece of software, developing a learning experience, or just getting all my thoughts into a coherent whole. I enjoy not just the act of creating, but of then releasing my creation to the world-at-large. I suspect the “world-at-large” isn’t as large as I’d like, but I continue nonetheless.


I use the act of writing to look carefully at my own learning, and reflect on how I’ve arrived at my opinions. Through carefully explaining and revising, I can actually gain a lot of insight into how I learn. Instead of simply accepting something, I want to explore ideas deeply, investigate, and follow my curiosity, and the act of writing affords me the opportunity to follow those pursuits. I find that when I write, I spend a lot of time investigating, researching, and refining my thoughts.


When I spend time writing, it allows me to organize my thoughts. I can carefully consider the vocabulary, tone, and structure of how I put together a convincing justification of my opinion. This helps me when discussing big, complicated ideas with friends and colleagues: I have already invested effort into developing my own perspective. Since I have such a strong foundation from which to work, new ideas, challenges to my opinion, or conflicting perspectives are easier to examine. I’m confident in my own thought, so it allows me the freedom and security to explore thoughts and opinions different from my own.

And my final answer is...

Ultimately, I write because I enjoy it. I’m not writing for an audience, I’m writing as a part of my own learning process. I enjoy sharing because I’ve put effort into creating what I share. I enjoy writing because that effort help me develop clarity of opinion.

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