I empathize with O’Connor. I often sit down at my desk and think, “What do I know? What do I want to say to others?”
But then the words come, one after the other, in their own time. And I think, “Wow. I had no idea I knew/felt that.”
Most of the time I begin typing just to type. Opening a fresh new document and simply adding my name to the page can be the only nudge I need to commence. Other days, writing requires much staring and daydreaming. In any case, the words only come when I figure out the why.
For years I wrote to fill pages of a trade publication. Ads drove the page count. Decisions over which articles were pulled or added in order to fulfill that page count were made in mere minutes, even seconds on late deadline nights. It was easy to fall into a rhythm—interview, write, edit, print. And begin again, to fill the pages. Yet I had to know why I was writing. Fulfilling sales quotas wasn’t enough for me. I needed to know the magazine could land in the hands of someone who needed to read what I wrote. Maybe a therapist, burnt out from never ending healthcare red tape, needed to reignite her passion. Maybe a parent, despondent in the wake of her child’s recent dim diagnosis, needed to rekindle hope. Maybe a patient, burdened from the literal weight of her prosthetics, needed to regain her balance and recharge her energy. That’s why I wrote. To speak to people.
Today I want to speak to you. I am writing because I want to help you find your why. What do you think? What should you say? Why should you write? I don’t know the answers, but I bet you do…although you may not be aware of them just now. So sit down at a desk with your laptop or curl up in an oversized chair with a journal. Add your name to the top of the page. Allow your mind to wander. Gaze out the window and take in the world around you. Who do you see? What do you hear? Where are you? How does it all make you feel?