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To Say You’re Not a Writer Is to Say You’re Not Human

by | Sep 18, 2023 | Writing

It’s rare that I get emotional about writing.

Well, it happened today. I was teaching a writing class. We came to the end and I decided to take one final question. A student requested to ask their question on Zoom by unmuting themselves instead of typing it in the chat.

“Writing has been hard today. I’m about to take my son to hospital again for treatment. But writing has made this situation better. When I write I feel like it helps me process this situation.”

Everyone in the class went silent. I didn’t know what to say. It wasn’t a question at all. It was a comment.

I instantly felt chills down the back of my spine. A wave of emotion came over me. It made me think about what writing truly is for the next 2 hours.

I couldn’t take my mind off it.


The most common comment I get about writing is “I’m not a writer.”

It annoys me because after 9 years of doing this I’ve realized we are all writers.

Writing is how we communicate.

Writing is how we connect the dots between ideas in our head.

Writing is how we think.

Writing is a form of therapy.

And we’re all writing every day. We write emails, text messages, and PowerPoint presentations. Today I wrote a birthday card for my dad. He turns 72 years old.

I felt emotional writing the card.

This is the first year he’s been a grandpa. Last year we were told he would die of a rare blood cancer. All the odds were stacked against him.

Through some kind of miracle he’s made it out alive. He’s 100% cured.

That means he gets to be a grandpa. That means he gets to see his granddaughter grow up. Trying to put this into words in a birthday card today wasn’t easy. But I did it.

Writing built a bridge between the emotion and the reality.

Writing saved the day like it always does.


Writing has a different meaning these days.

I have a 10 month old daughter. I often write to tell her things she can’t understand yet. When she’s old enough I hope I can bring out some of these pieces of writing and explain them to her.

On my desk I have a Father’s Day card she painted for me in daycare.

When I was single and childless writing was a way to get fans and look cool on the internet. It could make me money so I could buy luxury items that made me feel superior.

Now none of that matters.

Writing has a deeper meaning. Writing helps me have a meaning for my life. I seek to write because it’s how I process the world. Writing is the vehicle I use to transfer emotion from me to a stranger on the internet.

The hope is that the emotion helps move them in some way — sometimes forward, sometimes backward.

The unique power of writing to do this is kind of mystical. It feels like it’s otherworldly or a power from a 4th dimension.

When you sit down to write it’s just you against your mind.

Writing is what makes us human.

I don’t trust people who say they don’t write because everyone does it, whether that’s in public or private.

If you’re truly not writing at all you’re missing out on one of life’s greatest experiences. Writing is one of the few ways you can take emotion from inside of you at any one time and transfer it to another human.

When I think about the student who’s taking her son to hospital today, I can’t help but think about what her life would be like without writing.

She’s someone who has always wanted to write but never had time.

Now she’s finally made the time and after only 8 days it’s creating a level of transformation she can barely put into words.

In a way it’s my hope that everyone can experience this feeling. Because once you’ve created a daily writing habit it shows up in life in mysterious ways.


The point of all this dear reader is to say you must write.

Writing is a big part of what it takes to be human. If you’re not writing you’re missing out. And if you have kids like I do then you’re robbing them of a legacy that transcends you through writing.

Who knows, in the future AI may be able to take everything you’ve written along with a photo of you and turn you into some 3D character that guides your children through life once you’ve left this world.

If the future is less sci-fi than this, then at least my hope is that our family can read our simple words and still feel a connection to us when we’re gone.

It feels weird to say, but death is a topic we cannot avoid.

So…

I beg you to write. Unlock your full humanity. And please take the whole range of emotions you feel and write about them.

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