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Writing As An End In Itself

I haven’t written as much lately. I’ve wondered if I’ve forgotten to take out an imaginary pencil in my backpack. Recently I thought maybe I’ve been struck with the dreaded “writer’s block.” Fortunately, I don’t believe in writer’s block and I don’t entirely consider myself a writer. In my mind, technically speaking, anyone that’s capable of understanding and communicating through language and can put that language on paper or Google Doc or social media post could call themselves a writer. The degree to which they’re skilled may vary, but they’re capable of writing nonetheless. And no one get’s “talker’s block,” so why should there be a block for writing?

When my opinion is at its most extreme, I only consider those that can construct complicated narratives as writers, and the rest of us as capable constructors of written information. But what’s it all matter anyways? We don’t classify humans as walkers or non-walkers. Or as talkers or non-talkers. Regardless of how often we all participate in writing or how well we do it, I think there’s a writer in all of us.

But I’m not sure where my recent lack of writing has come from. It isn’t that there’s ever a lack of things to write about. It’s more that there’s a lack of writing worth sharing, whether that’s because of the quality of the words or the topics discussed. A lot of writing is a glimpse at a person’s inner world. Their thoughts. Their worries. The recollection of ideas that passed through their mind at 2 pm when they should have been focused on finalizing their PowerPoint slides.

Who wants to share all those things? We praise vulnerability, but is vulnerability really the answer? Historically private and public lives were separated. Now the lines are blurred. Why should we make ourselves readily available? Simply because it’s the norm?

I think I’ve realized that some topics shouldn’t be written about. I’m not even sure all topics should be explored in one’s own mind. I’m not sure I’m aligned with the Nietzschean idea that everything should be up for examination and taken to its most reachable conclusion. I definitely don’t agree with what seems to be the modern inclination that everything that’s up for examination should be done so publicly. I can’t help but cringe when I feel like people are oversharing. The lack of having to be viewed by the masses is one of the greatest perk of being an ordinary citizen.

Some tough topics should be written about. They should be written about to engage readers, to start conversations. Other topics should just be written for writing’s sake. There doesn’t have to be a particular reason. Awards don’t have to be won or dissertations defended. It doesn’t even have to be read by anyone. Writing should be an end in itself, not the means toward something else. All silly writing included.

I think a disposition toward doing things as ends in themselves is something some of us have lost in the modern world. Much of what we do is to hack our lives to improve something else.

We track calories. We track walking steps. We track our sleeping. Why’s everything have to be measured and improved? Why can’t we just be and do?

And why’s everything have to be structured or definite? Why can’t writing trail off and head in different directions? As someone who gets paid for writing words, I understand that many forms of writing require structure, direction, and cohesion. But that doesn’t mean they all do. There’s a time and place where writing has to consider its audience, but there’s a time and place where it should consider no one. I appreciate the tangential writers for this reason. And the writers who are willing to make a statement and then contradict themselves a few paragraphs later. I appreciate the people who are willing to jump from topic to topic, omit conclusions, and do what they will their writing.

If there’s anything I’ve realized in my curiosity toward philosophy and psychology, it’s that we actually don’t understand that much about how the world operates, or why we as individuals do what we. Worst yet, even the philosophers who search and search never get to any definite answers. Some even go mad in the process.

We do tell ourselves stories and believe stories others have told us or that have been passed down through generations. We use these stories to make sense of things, and we seek the stimuli that validates our stories so that we can keep our worldview intact. Without a worldview we’d be lost. But in reality, we don’t actually understand all that much.

And for that reason, I appreciate the people who say “I don’t know” more often than they make up answers they don’t have. And I appreciate the people who understand their brains create internal narratives to make sense of our world. I especially appreciate the people who work to improve their narratives.

Because for today my story is that some of the use in writing is to not worry about being right or structuring words in a way that wins applause — and to not overshare personal information in my writing — but to write as an end in itself. And that’s the story I’m sticking with, at least for today.

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Diego Contreras

Diego Contreras

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I'm a communications and content writer. Follow me on Twitter @thediegonetwork.