Yes, you. Right now. Stop reading this and write something.
Words connect us across time and space, class and race, culture and gender. I can’t talk to Frederick Douglass because he’s dead. I can’t visit Pompeii because it was destroyed. I can’t see a dodo bird because they’re extinct. But I can read about all of those things, and it’s almost as good as being there in the flesh. In turn, two thousand years from now, when we’re all dead and our civilization is gone, people will wonder how we lived our lives. They may or may not be able to play our DVDs or log into our Instagram accounts. They will certainly be able to read our words, and your experience today can live forever in the imagination of a person who won’t be born for centuries. You enter into eternity when you write. You become a record keeper for humanity’s journey through the universe.
I read an essay by a woman for a class I tutor in. The topic of the essay was how much she hated writing. As you might have guessed, this young woman wrote an amazing essay about how much she dislikes writing. In the last week, I’ve read great writing from my brother and from my girlfriend, two more people who’ve told me how little they enjoy writing. While I’m pleased that they shared their insight and ideas, I’m also saddened by the possibility that they won’t write again unless compelled to by school or by work. How much of their perspective have I been denied? What worlds exist in their minds that I’ll never be privy to? And not just them, but all the people I know who don’t write. I want to hear those thoughts, and live in those worlds.
Writing is unique among art forms because it’s the only one that (basically) all Americans are taught. Even while schools are cutting arts programs to the bone (which is a tragedy of our own making), reading and writing remain crucial to learning. Once school is over. most people aren’t forced to study music or art on a daily basis, but if you’re literate, then you read and write every day. Everything, from reading a novel to cruising social media, increases your exposure to the written word, and all of that makes you a better writer than you think you are. All you need is an experience, an opinion and some time.People say I’m a good writer. That happened because I wrote. Thousands of words, hundreds of pages, for years and years. Things that you’ve read, and things that you haven’t. Things that I haven’t read since I wrote them. All it takes to write, and to become good at it, is to write.
You already know how to write. You don’t need any special equipment to do it- just a pen and a paper, or your work computer, or even your cell phone. There are free services to host your writing everywhere. People will pay you for your stories. You’ll get better with every word you put down, just like I did.
Why are you still reading this? Go do it!