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Why Write?

by Robert Baranello

Perhaps more than any other form of self-expression, writing carries with it a great mystique. Writing is hard. Writing asks that we develop our ideas with detail and description. And writing begs the most intimidating of human demands–self-discipline. Yet for our effort we receive numerous rewards. As our pen touches paper we enter a place of stillness, where serenity, joy and self-honoring are possible. We may struggle at times, to find the right words and phrases, but when successful we are transported to a place where beauty and creativity live. And there are surprises. We may assume that great concentration needed would be exhausting. Instead, it energizes. We also find that our writing takes us deep inside ourselves, to uncharted territories of our consciousness. We understand how our words build bridges between our everyday busy thoughts and our deepest intuitive instincts.

Self-expressive or confessional writing in particular provides an effective channel for self-illumination. Our pens become excavation tools that mine the caverns of our psyches, unearthing rare gems of insight. These writings can act like a self-aware ego, to see objectively our desires, behaviors, and motives. Confessional writing can also provide a chronicle for our inner work, a map that reveals our place in the here and now. And when we re-read work months or years later, it can mark our journey to the present moment.

Writing our lives creates communion with ourselves. The Sufi poet Rumi spoke of the sohbet, or "mystical conversations on mystical subjects." He had thousands of these talks with his constant companion, Shams of Tabriz. During one such sharing inside Rumi’s house, Shams was called away to the door and vanished mysteriously, never to return. Rumi fell into an inconsolable despair, but his search for Shams brought him eventually to a spiritual epiphany:

Why should I seek? I am the same as he. His essence speaks through me. I have been looking for myself!

Our self-expressive writings are our sohbets, mystical conversations with our souls. Each time we write, we have the potential to dip our pens into the river of infinite wisdom that flows through our own instincts and inner knowing, to which all humans have access. For spiritual seekers, our essays can give voice to our aspirations for deeper truth, but also provide useful and practical insights into our personal psychology: What limits us? Why are our relationships dysfunctional? What are the true motives behind our actions? Our personal essays act like mirrors to the unseen parts of our inner consciousness.

Writing on a regular basis, optimally at the same time and place each day, can finely hone our artistic instincts. Some say true talent is a rarity, but creativity exists in everyone and can be cultivated to high levels of performance. A child playing a video game, a novice golfer on the green, or a virtuoso violinist all have equal access to flow. Flow is often a writer’s greatest impetus to work, and we all know that regular practice enormously develops ability.

So we can think of writing as a kind of active meditation. While meditating, we focus on our breath and quietly observe our consciousness. To write of our lives is to do something quite similar, but to add a decisive power to harness our awareness and creativity, to speak the ultimate truth. And we realize, too, that writing takes courage and faith: the courage to open our hearts on paper, and the faith that what will be revealed will be a benefit to our personal growth and development.

Robert Baranello is a Press Club award-winning journalist, personal writing coach, Nassau Community College writing instructor and founder/director of Creative Core Writing Workshop, www.creativecorewriting.com a student-active instructional method designed to awaken creativity, develop artistic ability, and enhance writing skill.



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