Writing Is Enlightenment

Woman writing

I don’t always know what I want to write, but as I write, I discover meaning on the page – stories and ideas. And these shape my beliefs and convictions. I do not write what I believe and think, but believe and think what I write.

When writing non-fiction, you usually know what you want to write about before you begin. You probably have already a more or less definitive outline on paper, or at least in your mind. You know the direction, you know the main ideas, you know the message. The joy of writing comes from combining all the pieces together into a beautiful puzzle.

When writing stories, however, you often have only a vague idea about the plot, the setting, the characters. You have to discover them on the page. Even when you have a more or less clear outline of the plot, you still don’t know how the characters will react, what they will feel, what they will do. Sometimes they do the opposite of what you expect them to do.

The process of discovery on paper, of endless writing and rewriting, is to me what writing is all about. It’s tedious and hard at times, but it’s fulfilling, like exploring a dark dungeon full of riches not with a lantern, not with a torch, but with a flickering candle in your hand. You see only a little at a time.

The same process of discovery applies to my blog posts. I have only foggy ideas and beliefs about the topics I cover. But as I write, the fog fades, and I see more clearly.

This is what I love about writing. This is why I write. Writing helps me know what I think, what I believe, what I feel.

57 thoughts on “Writing Is Enlightenment

  1. Whah!! I love this post so much, I mean, you feel that too? Especially the part about believing what you write…and when the characters do the opposite of what you expect. Love the metaphor too, I guess this is how writers get their kicks, no? 🙂

      1. No, unfortunately I haven’t. Camden Market is in the more nicer part of London, but I have heard about how huge it is! Do you want to go there? Have you already been to the market?

  2. Absolutely! I love what I discover about myself and others and the world as I write. I’m fascinated by the fact that I can sit down to write one thing and end up with something entirely different.

      1. No immediate response to that. I either haven’t detected that it does or I haven’t been writing long enough. No, wait, I think I did have something unfold in my Real Runners are Just That piece that has made me more comfortable with the running crowd. And I think my writing changes my writing — as in I’m getting better at it — but that’s something different.

  3. I have a wall covered in post it notes with topics, devices or approaches written on them. I don’t srt out to write until i have taken one down and appraised it and them I won’t move onto anything else until i have solved the puzzle on that post it note. It’s a good way to make sure you never repeat yourself and you are always writing from a position of discomfort.

  4. I like this line, “not with a torch, but with a flickering candle in your hand. You see only a little at a time.” How true that is and what a beautiful description of the feeling when your writing begins to expose itself to you.

  5. I believe it’s most of all developing. The more I write, the better I speak, and the easier it is for me to name my emotions and beliefs. I do not write as much as I wish to. Or better said, I do not write about the things like touch my soul deeply. At least not in my blog. I like my blog. But I do not like the writing on my blog. It seems shallow. And I know there’s just so much more important things to say. Yet I decided on a beauty blog. And it’s hard to speak beautifully about shallow things. With all the tasks and challenges I’m taking lately, I have no time to write stories or to start a book. But I wish to write a story soon. To reset my mind. Writing is enlightening, my Friend. And enriching. And I’m glad you write. It suits you more than well.

    I feel soft now…

  6. i definitely agree. sometimes i write, and then read it back to hear for what seems like the first time, my own opinion on something. i also find that this happens more when i write with pen and paper rather than a keyboard and screen. my unconscious thoughts flow out more organically and unpolluted through ink than text. it is the wonder of writing that it teaches you so much about yourself. its seems like a simple thing, to know your own opinion and ideas, but the more i write, the easier i find it to discuss in conversation, because i have heard myself speak on the topic once before, and therefore can be more coherent. great post 🙂

  7. Over nearly ten years of writing stories I’ve slowly realized that the fewer surprises my characters give me and the fewer plot turns I leave to chance, the better the stories I write. But if I hadn’t muddled about for all those years letting my stories surprise me I wouldn’t have isolated so well how I feel and what I believe. I know what is important to me because my stories fizzle if I wander away from what I believe in aid of ‘moving the plot forward.’ So I plan and plan and daydream each moment in advance of writing it so my story will ring with what my past writing explorations have shown me I value.

  8. So accurate.
    Its the same with me. With non-fiction, like you said, we know. But with fiction, we don’t.
    When I get down to write fiction, the idea usually comes to me in the form of the opening line, or the last line or just the title! I don’t think I’ve thought out the plot much before I started tapping away on my keyboard. I just let it design itself and end up with something that is not too bad!
    And no, this post didn’t help things… I’m still in love with the way you choose your words, Vincent. Do something about it!

  9. I am new at the writing thing but I think twice your age..I like to write about what is bothering me in a moment sometimes and I love writing fiction because there seems to be less pressure when I do that then when I try to write what my thoughts are and what I am feeling…and as always…thank you….I love to read your thoughts on writing

  10. Yes, definitely. I experienced this often enough to know that when I take a pen and write down what I think, put it in words it somehow becomes clearer. To me writing is learning.

  11. This makes me realise that I am not alone!

    In school, our teachers used to make us plan what we wanted to write. I never did it and got punished for it. All my classmates did it. Ultimately, I did it backwards: wrote the story then the ‘plan’.

    Now I know I’m normal. 😀

  12. Reblogged this on Peace&Chemicals and commented:
    Definitely in love with this post. Extremely accurate, especially with the comparison to holding a candle. Funny, but very true. Writing is so unclear at first, but I’ve always said its like water. It just flows. Minor word error in paragraph 2, saying what instead of want. 🙂

  13. I would really love an invisible gift!
    I have not written much lately because 2 years ago, we bought a new house that was not built correctly. It is rocking and rolling like a boat in rough seas.And I have been spending way too much time up on a ladder trying to hold it together with caulk. I have also learned to mix and apply mortar, because (in many places) the mortar the builder put between the bricks has fallen out like sand. I am tired.
    I am a writer, not a construction worker– and I miss writing. I agree with you completely — I wrote something similar: “I produce my first draft by think-writing. The thoughts think themselves and I write them down so I can see what they are trying to say. The unruly thoughts can go on for many pages before they decide on a central idea. I try to stay out of their way at this point, because I am at their mercy and they are usually out of control. If I try to force the thoughts and intimidate them with narrow lines and spaces, they vanish like smoke……..”

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