By Lyndi Scott
It is easy when someone says the word “writer,” to immediately think of names like Ernest Hemingway or Jane Austen, Shakespeare or Mark Twain. You know, the Greats (relatively speaking). The writers that defined what it meant to be a writer. It is a great misfortune that we often make this association. Just because you didn’t write Paradise Lost or Harry Potter doesn’t mean you can’t “write.” It also ignores the technicality, of course, that anyone who writes is a writer: to write, and write something significant, doesn’t mean you have to be a professional or that it has to be awe-inspiring poetry that transforms the nation, or a masterpiece of the novel genre-- it just has to be written.
With that adieu, I will further this perspective using the great writers who wrote great quotes about writing but not about writers. (Say that three times fast-- or even once, for that matter.)
“A word after a word after a word is power.” ― Margaret Atwood
Even writers don’t write to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Writing is therapeutic and is a powerful thinking process for both the individual writing, and those who read it. The act of writing is a cognitive process, so no matter what you are writing about, you are going to think very deeply about it before and while your pen touches the paper.
“The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” ― Albert Camus
If philosophers like Plato and Socrates or ancient scientists like Galileo or Copernicus had never written their thoughts down, not as writers, mind you, but as thinkers, gravity would’ve taken centuries longer to understand. Do you think? Then write. It is through writing that the world connects, grows, and accumulates the mass of knowledge that is currently swirling around in Google databases.
“A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called "leaves") imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time ― proof that humans can work magic.” ― Carl Sagan
When you think about writing in the reductive form that Sagan puts it, it probably makes you feel a little silly at first-- it is such a simple thing, so useless when taken out of context. Sagan goes on though, giving writing context and emphasis, and suddenly the BuzzFeed article or that Tom Clancy novel is now an historical document, and is a small cross section on the web of writings that expands infinitely. And like Sagan says, our ability to access that web of ideas is the greatest gift we give to each other.
“A good poem is a contribution to reality. The world is never the same once a good poem has been added to it. A good poem helps to change the shape of the universe, helps to extend everyone's knowledge of himself and the world around him.” ― Dylan Thomas
Replace the word poem with “idea” and suddenly you are contributing so much more than new perspective, you are contributing to progress.
“All I need is a sheet of paper and something to write with, and then I can turn the world upside down.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche
Nietzsche was a German philosopher who believed God was dead due to the increase of secularism in Western civilization and wrote many theses on nihilism, which is the idea that life lacks purpose because nothing has an innate value. Maybe you knew that, maybe you didn’t. But you have heard of Nietzsche, because like me and you and Nietzsche, we are part of that web of writing. This blog you are reading this very instant is now a part of the great expanse. Writing is not reserved for writers, but for thinkers, for those who have ever had a question and desired an answer. And something tells me that you are one of those people. So go write!