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If I can just give to the world more than I take from it, I will be a very happy man. For there is no greater joy in life than to give. Motto : Live, Laugh and Love. You can follow me on Twitter too . My handle is @Raja_Sw.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Why I write

There is this bloggers’ initiative that I’ve recently started participating in. Every week a topic is given to participating bloggers – they need to write a blogpost on the topic.

This week the topic is “Why I write”.

So here goes.

I must start by saying I’ve never thought about this – and wouldn’t have, even now, if I hadn’t been prompted to do so.

I guess there are a few reasons I write.

1) My need to dump my thoughts onto SOME platform
Those who know me will vouch for the fact that there are some subjects that I am rather passionately interested in. Subjects that I follow on a daily basis. Like politics and current affairs. Social issues.  Films. Music. Sports, especially cricket.  And economics too (the practical side of it), though I don’t claim to understand much of what I read.

Anyway, I spend a lot of time reading on these topics. And formulating my own thoughts and opinions based on what I read and hear.

If all these thoughts / opinions remained only in my head, I think I’d go crazy. :-) I want to share them with others. Hear their points of view. Or, at the very least, get these thoughts out of my system.

Now, different people have different ways of expressing their thoughts – an artist might do it through a painting, a sculptor might do it through his sculptures, a cartoonist might do it through his cartoons. Since I sadly possess none of these skills, the route I have chosen is through the written word.

So that is one of the main reasons I write.

Note that the platform for dumping my thoughts is pretty random. It depends on what those thoughts are – and the level of detail. If it’s just a few lines, it usually ends up on Facebook or Twitter. Sometimes, I do decide to post it on my blog.  Sometimes, I just dump my thoughts on a Word document – and leave them there. And some thoughts don’t get dumped at all – they just die in my head.

My frame of mind often determines the format. Sometimes I think in poetry, sometimes in prose. But most importantly, once I’ve got my thoughts put down (in whatever format or platform), it feels good to have it out of my system.

2) Writing helps organize my thoughts
Another reason I write is that my thoughts tend to get better organized when I put them down in writing. This is something that I realized early on in life - in my school/college days. I’d read something, I’d think I understood it well enough – but then I’d try to put it down in writing, in my own words. And then realize that I hadn’t quite understood it as well as I thought I had. And I hated not understanding things.

So it became a habit for me to try to write down my thoughts. It was often a test of how much I knew and understood. And if I couldn’t write them down, I knew I was fooling myself.

This habit got into my work life too. Often I’d have meetings where we’d discuss a whole lot of things, often in a chaotic manner. At the end of it, I’d feel the only way to make some sense of it all would be to write down what was discussed.

So, for my own satisfaction, often right after the meeting, regardless of whether official minutes were being taken by anybody else or not, I’d make a “meeting recap” for myself. Point by point, with action points of who/what/when. I’d distribute it to the other attendees – who would then validate my understanding. But importantly, I felt comfortable and satisfied only when I made this recap. Often this recap would end up being treated as the official minutes of the meeting.

3) Have it in writing
Another reason I write is that my memory is rather poor (I know some people will disagree with my saying this, but it is true). 

I was once in a parking lot, staring at a whole lot of cars not knowing which one was mine. And that, when I'd been having that car for years! :-) I sometimes think I'm lucky that when I go out somewhere I manage to come back to my own home, instead of knocking on somebody else's door!

So I often write things down to remind myself. I know this isn’t “writing” in the sense of writing an article or a blogpost (as was probably intended by this writing prompt) but it still has to do with the written word.

Talking of the written word – and following from the above point about a poor memory - I must say I like written confirmation of verbal assurances. Whether given TO me, or BY me. If something is in writing, it leaves less scope for misunderstandings as people tend to think more about saying something in writing, than just verbally.

4) Longevity of the written word
Another reason I like writing is that there is a sense of longevity about it. The spoken word is nice, but it is here this moment, gone the next. The written word is there seemingly for eternity.

For example, if we look at scriptures or the holy texts or anything that has survived several generations over hundreds, or even thousands, of years, we find that much of all this still survives because, at some point in time, these were put down in writing. That which has been passed by word of mouth, from generation to generation, is more prone to adaptation and interpretation by the concerned persons, with consequent dilution of content.

And I’m not talking only about the Bible or Shakespeare’s works. There’s much to be said in favor of the written word. My father passed away a few years ago – I remember fondly some of the things he used to talk to me about. But what I have, as part of his legacy, are some letters he wrote to me at various points in time. Sometimes about mundane matters – but written with utmost love and affection, in his own, very good, handwriting. He is physically not here anymore – but his letters are. And they are part of my treasured possessions.

So this is an important reason I like to write. Not that I am leaving a legacy of any sort with what I write – but at least my thoughts do not remain only in my head. One day we all have to die – and when I do, hopefully my blog will still be around to let people (especially my family and friends) have some idea of my thoughts at a particular point in time, should they be interested at all.

Of course there is increasingly the other option – the video blog (or the vlog, as it is sometimes called). I have not tried it yet – and I think I might try it sometime – but I doubt it will replace my penchant for writing out my thoughts.

5) Love for writing
I think this might really be at the crux of it all. All the above reasons are valid reasons, no doubt, but at the heart of why I write is probably the heart itself. And that heart clearly has a love for writing.
If I didn’t love writing, it would be a chore. And it most certainly isn’t. Even when I’m writing rubbish (and that’s, more often than not, the case), the process of churning out this rubbish is quite enjoyable. And I’d say, even therapeutic. Which is also the reason why, even if there isn’t one person in this world who reads what I write, it doesn’t really matter.

As with most things one truly loves, the destination isn’t always the most important thing, sometimes the journey itself is.

For me, I guess it’s the same with writing.


Ava Suri said...

I love how well you analyse your need to write. Your write up also provides an important tip on how to write well. To make a list of what you want to write about. And to write about as clearly as possible.

Thank you for this, Raja.

rudraprayaga said...


Anonymous said...

Beautifully written, Raja, and what I especially love is how well you analyse why you write. I've never got down to it, but I think my list of reasons for writing will almost certainly be pretty close to yours. (Incidentally, I write down things I need to remember, too - and invariably, I end up not having to refer to what I've written).

Suzy said...

That was a detailed account of why you write - longevity of words - that is ever so true.
Dropping by from "Why I write"

Richa Singh said...

It was the element of the spoken word being elusive that is so me. I often feel that spoken words disappear like they never actually existed but the written ones outlast us forever...


Anonymous said...

Well explained......

Ritu said...

Now this is so refreshing, you have such an organized brain. Mine is an impulsive take on things, I write because I love to write, to express

Anonymous said...

Writing should never be a chore. Good reasons for writing.


Bhavya said...

Wow! You have made your point, and how clearly :)

Afshan said...

writing for sure lasts forever. Good way to say it all :)
good day

Corinne Rodrigues said...

All of your reasons make me glad that you write, because that's how I connected with a fine gentlemen like you! :)

Leo said...

I think that love for writing is what drives most of us on :) The dumping part works for me as well :D

Raja Swaminathan said...

@Ava, tbh, I didn't plan anything beforehand. It looks planned but it's just how my thoughts rolled out.

@rudraprayaga, thank you. Glad you liked it.

@dustedoff, I guess many will identify with these reasons. I also often don't need to refer to my lists - but I make them (just in case!)

@Suzy, thank you. Indeed longevity of words is a psychologically very important reason to put things down in writing.

@Richa, Very true, very true.

@shellymona, thanks. :-)

@Ritu, I'm much more impulsive than this post lets out. :-) It turned out far more organised than my brain normally allows.

@Jyothi, indeed writing shouldn't be a chore. It should be a joy.

@Bhavya, thank you. Glad you liked it :-)

@Afshan, thank you. :-)

@Corinne, the pleasure is very much mine. Honoured to have connected with you through writing. :-)

@Leo, yes, the need to dump one's thoughts is rather compelling sometimes, isn't it? :-)

Poonam said...

You know you're an obsessive control feak, right? :-)