The problem with writing is that it’s utilitarian. We write every day—a text message to a friend, an email to a coworker, a grocery list, an essay. When writing is your art, but also your communication, the former is easily overwhelmed by the latter. So how do you embrace the art of writing?
I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember. Absorbing language was an act of exploration, pure enjoyment in the art of writing. I have rosy memories of summer holidays where mornings were spent biking to the library and afternoons whiled away in a corner surrounded by books. In high school I carried a notebook with me everywhere. I wrote nonsensical stories, dramatic scenes and meandering thoughts. I wrote without necessity—purely for the joy of expression. When I went to university words became something to pile upon each other to reach a required word count. In magazine school I became a self-conscious writer. Was I doing it right? Was I killing off enough darlings? Then I graduated and got sick. I stopped writing for a little while. When I started to get better writing became a healing process. A few years and a few jobs later and now I write for a living. Underneath the weight of proposals, tweets, taglines and web copy, writing became just another task to complete. A pesky to-do list item that required increased concentration. Then I enrolled in an online writing class.
My biggest takeaway from Ann Swindell’s Writing With Grace class—besides the insider publishing information and the amazing community—is the awakening of something I hadn’t realized I’d let fall dormant. That the delicate layering of words could be something playful, something joyful. That there’s always something new to learn; ways to hone my craft, to fine tune my skills. Writing is my art. I pulled out my copy of Reading Like A Writer. I looked forward to my next day at the office. I was excited by each opportunity to knit sentences together word by word, to rearrange the pieces and find the missing bits of punctuation.
So to all my fellow writers out there: don’t be afraid to reclaim the art of writing. Proudly hold onto the title of writer and let a little joy infuse each thing you write. Insert some playfulness into that Instagram caption. Take ten minutes to journal or follow a writing prompt. Allow yourself space to work on your craft. Write simply for the delight of writing.
Are you a writer? How do you make room for writing in your everyday?
Want to invest in your writing? Check out our free course The Creative Nonfiction Primer. We dive into 5 categories—literary journalism, memoir, profile, essay, and travel + food writing—and share some of our favourite reads and writing prompts.