Posted on Mon 11 November 2013

The writing habit

This post was inspired by Startup Edition

My current job titles are Content Crafter (Buffer) and Co-founder (Hello Code), but I usually explain what I do by simply saying I'm a writer. It's much easier when talking to those outside the tech industry than initiating them into the confusing worlds of startups and content marketing (I actually have a friend who was incredulous that I get paid for content marketing when I explained to her what it is. She works in sales and finds the concept unbelievable).

Writing is a pretty good descriptor, since I do it in so many different forms, for so many different reasons. I write this blog to collate, express and shape my thoughts. I write for Buffer to engage with and build our audience. I write on the Hello Code blog to engage with and build our audience for Exist. And I write on paper to remember things and organise my thoughts.

Expressing myself with words

This doesn't answer the question of why I write, though.

In fact, I actually have a theory as to why I write so much, aside from the fact that I happen to get paid to do it now. I didn't always get paid for it, obviously, and yet I wrote a lot as a kid. My sister likes to tell tales of the mess of paper and pens that was my bedroom floor from around age three until I got a laptop in high school. I wrote stories, songs, poems, diaries and letters. It was just what I did—I never questioned it.

So my theory goes that perhaps each of us is predisposed to a particular form of creative expression. Maybe this is cultivated through childhood. I was read to a lot as a kid, and I grew up loving and devouring books. I think a love for reading easily translates to a love of words in any form, and thus, probably shaped my writing habit.

But even as an adult, I continue to write. My dad often encourages me to draw/doodle as a way to express ideas and emotions when I'm struggling with big decisions, but my doodles always come out as words. It seems to be simply that the way I think out loud is in words.

When did writing stop being art?

An interesting observation I made recently when thinking about writing as creative expression was that I no longer think of writing as art—at least in the way I see other types of art. Theatre, for instance, still seems magical to me. Dance, drawing and sculpture all seem incredibly difficult and impressive. But writing has lost a lot of that magic for me—though I can still appreciate great writing (and despair at that which is not), it doesn't amaze me so much anymore.

I'm not sure whether this is because I've done it for so long now, or because I do it as a job (perhaps all art loses some of its lustre when you start to get paid for it?), or for some other reason. It just seems like "what I do." It's one of those things I happen to be okay at naturally, so being really good at it seems within reach (unlike being a great dancer, which sadly will probably never happen).

This also means I'm keen to get better at it, though, so it could actually be a good thing.

Regardless, I think writing will be something I do forever in some shape or form. I hope that others whose natural talents lie with words are duly encouraged to explore writing as a form of expression, and all that comes with it.

Read the other Startup Edition posts here.

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