Greg de la Cruz works at NCR Corp's R&D center in the Philippines and is the author of two published titles on Amazon.
7 Reasons to Not Give Up Writing
When someone observes me at a distance and notices me either composing an email, drafting a legal memo, or immersing myself in a new article, they may think that writing comes “too easy” for me—that I naturally excel at what I enjoy doing. But this is obviously untrue. The only reason why I breeze through organizing my thoughts onto a blank canvas is because I wish to reorganize those thoughts later on.
If you’re someone struggling to put pen into paper, or going through such heavy inertia to even jot one sentence down, what follows are seven reasons why you shouldn’t give up writing, based on my own writing journey.
- Writing Is an Open Door to Your Life
- Writing Is Therapy
- Writing Makes You an Organized Thinker
- Writing Can Help Remove Biases
- Writing Is a Form of Inheritance or Legacy
- Writing Deepens Relationships
- Writing Is Understanding
1. Writing Is an Open Door to Your Life
Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, the words you put on paper or on screen will likely be influenced by what you go through in life. Writing is a way of inviting readers into your own life, allowing them to get a hint of where you’re coming from and the experiences that have shaped you. This is one important reason to not give up writing, because both where you came from and what you have gone through, especially if genuinely expressed, could cause any reader to reflect on their own condition.
When I was new to the craft, I was also afraid of being judged by others. I would criticize my own thoughts before I even had a chance to express them. “Why would anyone find this interesting?” or “I’m not any better than most people”—such thoughts were unnecessary sources of inertia. These may have held me back, but it doesn’t have to be the same for you.
By permitting yourself to become vulnerable through self-expression, you draw sympathy from your audience. Some may be quick to judge, but there will always be those who will actually listen. “Writing” comments in social media or composing “hot takes” that become long online posts that draw attention from opposing sides will often make you easy prey to close-minded people, so you may want to be more cautious about which platform or medium you choose to write on. That said, let writing make you bold enough to share your story.
2. Writing Is Therapy
How many people still write diaries? It’s as if blogging has become a modern substitute for writing diary entries. Some compositions were once meant to be completely private, but in this age of sharing information that we live in, it’s easier to find a willing audience.
Whether you choose to share your thoughts to others or not, writing is therapy. Some write letters knowing that the person they’re intended for will never read them. Some write just to let pain out. And some write to lift their own spirits, because maybe the right person to cheer them up isn’t around.
Writing as therapy doesn’t have to confined in a psychiatrist’s office. You can write just because it feels like the right thing to do at the moment. Some thoughts just need expressing—you may be unnecessarily keeping yourself from ‘feeling’—and doesn’t that feel less human?
3. Writing Makes You an Organized Thinker
Writing to organize your thoughts feels like a chicken-and-egg thing. You write so you can organize your thoughts better; or you organize your own thoughts so you can write—both statements are correct.
I find it hard to write when I haven’t read anything in a while. It feels like my thoughts are in disarray and I lose my own cadence. When I’m able to read works of my favorite authors who write with perfect rhythm, I suddenly find my footing. My favorite authors write with simplicity—and because they write in basic language, I get to subscribe more to the philosophy that even ordinary words and phrases can be turned into spectacular stories.
Writing to become an organized thinker is another great reason to not give up on your writing journey. I can’t emphasize this enough—writing isn’t supposed to be an easy task. But just because it isn’t easy doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyable. Making mistakes, acknowledging them, and learning from them—these are necessary for you to become a more organized thinker.
4. Writing Can Help Remove Biases
Reading ‘widely’ can expand your perspective. Read works outside the contemporary, try reading authors of different descent, and read on different subjects—each of these will help remove or correct your own biases.
Writing, too, will help you become more open-minded. For you to write different characters when drafting a story, you need to develop empathy. And you don’t develop empathy if you don’t try to think like the character you’re trying to write.
I’ve noticed in some cases where a male author will write a female character so carelessly that the latter just doesn’t feel like a believable, real-life person. This type of writing gets on my nerves. Then again, I have to ask myself, “Is my annoyance a sign of my own bias?” “Do I understand enough about the writer to judge his own perspective as to why he would write a character that way?”
Writing to remove bias is another great reason to keep writing. You learn more about the people you don’t quite know yet, and you learn more about yourself.
5. Writing Is a Form of Inheritance or Legacy
It’s eerie to listen to a song from coffee shop speakers or from a car radio that’s sung by someone who isn’t alive. Like musicians who leave their work for the rest of humanity to consume or utilize, writers leave their thoughts as written words that eventually enter someone else’s mind.
Did you ever stop to think that when you read a story from Charles Dickens or Jane Austen, that these words were once thoughts of someone who existed from almost two centuries ago?
Writing is a form of inheritance. Whoever it is you intend for your writing to benefit, whether that crowd’s big or small, know that you’re leaving your well-guarded thoughts to someone else in the future. Make it count. To not give up writing means that you are willing to make your future sentences better, or more beautiful, or more useful—because one day, someone else will read them and find something he or she needs.
6. Writing Deepens Relationships
Do couples still write letters to each other? Like diary-writing which has somehow translated into blogging, writing letters to important people in our lives has in a way been diminished by the convenience of instant communication.
But this doesn’t mean that you can’t make those instances count. You can still make the most out of your messages and chats to loved ones by being more intentional and sincere. It takes hard work to compose something honest and sincere. When you haphazardly put words on the screen using quick taps, you may not be at your best as a writer—and as a person.
As author and editor William Zinsser would say, writing is re-writing. You can deepen relationships by being more intentional with how you communicate with the people who matter to you. Writing love letters will never fall out of fashion, because they’re pre-meditated, curated, and they take time. You can deepen your relationships by taking more time to write for the people in your life.
7. Writing Is Understanding
Lastly, don’t give up on writing, because it enables you to understand. A perfect statement from the book First Light by Charles Baxter which quoted Kierkegaard says:
“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
Writing memoirs can open something in you that you didn’t fully understand when you lived in that time. Those arguments your parents had, those opportunities that you missed, things that may seem regretful—you suddenly view these through a whole new lens.
And there’s no limit to how many ways you can write about those. In your 30s, you may write about an event in your teens that may eventually be drastically written differently come your 50s. The meaning of past events is something fluid, as we gain more knowledge and wisdom.
Writing for understanding is perhaps the most important reason why you shouldn’t give up on writing. It is writing for yourself. It is reflecting. It serves to satisfy you more than any other reader.
How I Started Writing
My writing journey began when my high school freshman English teacher told us in class to compose 200 words. That was the first onerous writing task I ever had—and before that task which was given to us barely teens, I can only recall quizzes, exams, spelling bees, and all sorts of homework that had to do with the English language.
Burdensome as this assignment was, I remember feeling this burst of creative energy, which used to just simmer inside, had now found its way out my inner thoughts and onto a yellow piece of paper. (Remember when students actually used pen and paper to submit homework? This wasn’t the age of word processors just yet.)
But ever since that day, I’ve always thought of myself as a writer—even if it would take me another decade to write my first novel.
The Fear Any Writer Has: “No One Will Read This”
Writing a novel is a weird flex for some people. Knowing that I finished a somewhat coherent work, not in my first language, and novel-length at that—it’s a confidence-booster on any bad day. Even so, every time I visit thrift shops that sell books a dime a dozen, I see bundles of dust-covered fiction and nonfiction works with obscure titles, sometimes with author names intentionally trying to sound like popular authors (i.e., Stephen Kingsley instead of Stephen King, Robert Woodrum instead of Robert Ludlum).
Nobody reads these books.
Or at least, someone used to read them, and here they are swimming in a sea of obscure publications priced at a dollar or less each, begging for someone to open them up and take them home.
Among many others, that’s a fear I have as a writer. I can write something very interesting to me—the words will come naturally and flow like a river and the subject matter will keep me up at night—but what if no one will be gracious enough to spend their time to absorb the thoughts I had meticulously prepared for them?
What if no one cares?
The self-awareness that I may not actually be as interesting as I thought, plagues me as a wannabe literary every single day. And I’m never afraid to admit this.
How to Overcome Your Fears as a Writer
For grounding, I turn again to the great William Zinsser, who said, “Ultimately, the product that any writer has to sell is not the subject being written about, but who he or she is.” Zinsser’s classic guide to writing, On Writing Well, overflows with so much wisdom I wish I had come across when I was younger and had struggled with writer’s block.
Yes—writer’s block. It happens to everyone, and it happened to me a few times. But as I wrote more and more (over 100 articles on HubPages, most of which are now featured on partner websites), the writing task became less daunting. The self-doubt still finds a way to spring up, but the body of work finds its way of soothing me—self assurances like “I’ve done this over a hundred times, I can do this again.”
But that doesn’t mean that writing, as a task, is easy. It is by no means easy. Turning it back over to Zinsser:
“Writing is hard work. A clear sentence is no accident. Very few sentences come out right the first time, or even the third time. Remember this in moments of despair. If you find that writing is hard it’s because it is hard.”
Be Content With Your Writing Journey
There shouldn’t be any pressure to produce vast amounts of writing (unless you need to, for financial reasons). No two writing journeys are the same—I never wrote anything creatively before the age of thirteen. And I never finished reading a novel before eighteen. Even when I was convinced that I’d developed my own writing voice, there were distinct years where I hadn’t written anything, and there were also years when I couldn’t even finish reading a single book.
Reading and writing come hand-in-hand, and it is through reading your own work and attempting to make it better to read, that you improve as a writer. I’m no expert in teaching you how to write, but by capping these words of encouragement, I hope that somehow, you won’t give up on writing.
Writing may be hard, but it’s fun!
© 2022 Greg de la Cruz