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Why We Write
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Why We Write

by Dhabitah ZainalMarch 7, 2017

Writing is a painful process. There is no point in sugar-coating this. Whether you are writing essays, poems, novels or even copies, you are constantly battling uncertainties in your head: Will these words be enough to convey the message? Will people understand what you are trying to say? Will your work be good enough for what they are supposed to represent? Will you be happy with the final product?

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Chances are, the answer to the last question will almost always be a no.

Regardless of whether you are telling a personal story or crafting a work of fiction, you will find that the act of writing is similar to peeling the layers of yourself as you progress deeper with every word, sentence or paragraph, so that you can leave behind some traces and remnants of yourself in your writings, be it a piece of wisdom or a speck of truth; A personal experience or a lifelong fear.

As a full-time content writer, part-time freelance writer and other-time poet, I frankly thought it would have gotten easier by now. That writing would be second nature, and the words would effortlessly spill onto the paper or my dusty laptop screen. That ideas would naturally flow, and writer’s block has gone back to being a myth I’ve only ever heard of before I started writing. That translating my thoughts, feelings and ideas into words be as simple as 1, 2, 3.

The truth is, it never gets easier. In fact, it only gets tougher once you have committed yourself to do this for a living; to take your passion seriously and to live the dream.

Writing, to me, is all about honesty. It is about giving away parts of yourself and hoping that your readers would catch them and keep them well (while being fully aware that some of them won’t). It is about pouring out the caged voices inside of you and hoping it will not be too overwhelming. It is about finding yourself and allowing others to witness the process.

And all of these often require a lot of self-trust and self-assurance, both of which I am still struggling with, as most writers do. Sometimes the disruptive voices that tell you “you are not worth it” will speak louder than the voices you wish to set free, and you are always expected to overcome it no matter how loud they get. Sometimes the battle gets tiring and your bed gets the best of you, and all your undeveloped ideas will follow you around like a lost puppy looking for a home. If you do not give them one immediately, they will eventually fade away you will be left to deal with the loss.

I am not sure if we’ll ever really learn to overcome this. It is an ongoing battle that we will have to fight on a day-to-day basis. We will have a taste of victory on some days while some other days we will lose, maybe what matters is that we are still relentlessly fighting to not let the disruptive voices win.

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As a poet, I write to make sense of the world. It is a way for me to absorb the external phenomenon and internalise it to better process the things that happen around me. Not everyone is born with the gift to completely understand what goes on around us, and without full understanding, it will be difficult to move on from a difficult situation or even fix what is broken. Writing is also a way to give a sense of clarity to my own thought processes. When you slowly abstract them one by one and lay them all on paper, it will eventually declutter the mess in your head and you will begin to understand why you think or feel a certain way. You will eventually figure out what, when and how to let go.

You will eventually, slowly, learn to let go.
This is why writing is important, and this is exactly why writers choose to brace through our battles every single day. And sometimes the best that we can do is just to try and write as honestly as we can. We might not owe anyone else the truth, but we know for a fact that we owe it to ourselves to be truthful.

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Dhabitah Zainal

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