In Praise of Written Words


Translating your thoughts and emotions into words on paper is comforting. Even if you do it only once in a while, even if you do not try too hard to give your words a specific form. The same is true for the act of reading — it brings a quietude that is calming and fulfilling.

Communicating with other people has never been easy for me. When someone speaks, I tend to listen. Even if I have I outgrown my childhood shyness, sharing my thoughts and emotions with others as opposed to simply listening remains a challenge.

It is not even with myself that I communicate effectively. The conversations I have in my head, the words I say to myself, are often confusing. They are seldom decisive. Rather, they tend to repeat my thoughts and carry me away from the problem at hand. Which is why most of the time I prefer silence.

For many of us, writing is an attempt at better communication with ourselves and with the world. It is an unburdening of the subconscious. It is an act of understanding, and at the same time, one of creativity, because we do not write only as we are, but we are as we write — the written word passes through us on its way to the page, and then, when we read it, it passes through us once more, broadening our understanding and knowledge.

My grandfather is illiterate and my grandmothers could handle only light writing, like labels on the jars of preserves. My parents may have read once, but I grew up in a house without books or writing. A house where effective communication was a problem.

Whenever I am lonely, angry, or cannot make sense of the world, I go to a quiet place that I call my own, to the page and to words, to reading and writing. I find there a great comfort.

Life itself, the whole of it, with its ups and downs, all seems translatable into the written word. It is an act akin to the transmutations of the alchemists, who tried to turn rough substances into finer things.

They may not have succeeded turning lead into gold, but then writers don’t have to do it either. Turning life into words is enough.

To write is to live more deeply, to plunge beneath the common surface of experience into a richer world of fine details and possibilities. It is a way to get more out of life. Writing enhances life.

You should try writing, too. Anything that comes to mind. Even if it’s only a grocery list. It makes things better, you’ll see.


Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

6 thoughts on “In Praise of Written Words

  1. This is so well written and similar to my own feelings. i am able to talk to people and sometimes express my emotions, but in writing I find comfort and therapy for whatever turmoil I may be facing. Keep writing and reading 🙂

  2. I’m not sure if that’s the case with you, but I find it easier to speak with some people than others. If you are talking with someone who just likes to talk a lot and isn’t really keen on listening, then there is little reason to speak. If I feel like my words won’t make a difference, I stay silent sometimes, too. The other person (and you, too) must foster conversation. Not just talking at you.

  3. I’ve always been more comfortable writing than speaking. I think there are two reasons for that. One, nobody’s standing right in front of me to give me immediate feedback, which might be negative. Two, when I write, I have the opportunity to edit and rewrite until my writing says exactly what I want. Those are both advantages, to me.

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