Writing is a habit. It is also an art. It has to be cultivated and nourished and put into practice. I also think of it as a way to exercise the mind. I have often wondered why writing is so difficult when speaking comes so very easily. My answer is twofold. Firstly, I attribute some kind of formality to writing. This is probably because of the extensive written examinations we had when we were kids. Our school system trained us to write essays, composition, summaries, etc. Most of what we wrote as kids was reviewed and graded. This has probably caused the notion that writing is formal to be ingrained in our minds. Secondly, as a lazy reader, I expect that every paragraph that I read in a news paper column and a journal or a magazine to be comprehensive and convey some meaning. Books, stories etc need to captivate the audience and encourage them to continue reading. Trying to be true to this expectation, it elevates the pressure on the written word, naturally making us more careful and cautious about what we write, not to mention the "Forward" command and distribution lists on all email apps.
Living in times when a word processor is handy and probably the next biggest writing aid, second only to the brain, it makes me wonder how difficult writing might be without these. Thinking cogently before you put your pen to paper, collating all your thoughts, putting a summary together seem intimidating at best and almost impossible to achieve without the spell checker, grammar checker, “Copy and Paste”, “Insert” & “Undo” commands. I can remember how some of my essays and summaries looked on my answer paper; like a battlefield. Scratches on full or partial sentences and arrow marks for Inserts. Thinking back to our ancestral days, I can only imagine a world where paper was a scare commodity and people used feather pens to write in ink. We have come such a long way from that. Now, we can dress it all up. Even cover up the fact that there is no natural flow to your thoughts. You can go up and down your article and edit it to your heart’s content before you publish it and no one is ever going to find out how these thoughts were en-meshed in your brain and has to be painfully drug out.
One question I have sometimes debated is whether writing requires creativity. I conclude by thinking, “..not any more than speaking.” By that I don’t mean speaking as in a conversation, rather speaking as in a prepared speech addressing an audience. Persistence and a quiet, calm place, I believe are much more important than “inborn” creativity. One thing is for sure, the more you exercise and train a muscle, the better it gets at doing that specific function. It was fun writing this. My first work of art in a long time! And I intend to make this a habit. Do you want to guess on how many times I relied on word processing tricks?