Recently I received emails on the subject of writing from two different sources. Seems like a message from the universe. The first, forwarded to me by a good friend who knows I like to write, comes from James Somers’ blog and is entitled More people should write. Now, before I get into the details of Somers’ case for writing, let me just say that in my guilty little conscience the title said, “People should write more,” wherein “people” means “I”. After all, I haven’t written in my blog for over three months. And, supposedly, I love to write in my blog. I think I’ve said before that “the hardest part [in writing] is to begin.” But enough about my guilt – for now.
Mr. Somers contends that when you are in the habit of writing, it changes the way you live. You pay closer attention to what’s going on around you in anticipation of writing about it. You’re more curious, more thoughtful. Writing makes you think. And when you write, you’re sharing your thoughts with people who care about what you think. When you write to or for your friends you become closer to them, and in turn you draw thoughtfulness out of them.One of the “amen brother!” comments that followed his post led me to another blog posting. This one comes from a computer science major at Sanford University and is titled More people should photograph. This blogger agreed that writing makes him a more aware and thoughtful person and then describes how photographing people helps him in the same way. This really hit home for me because of my love for photography and how a passion for creating images makes me more aware of the world. When you capture an image you’re making a statement about it, you’re interpreting your own vision of it. It becomes an event and a memory. But back to the blog post. Ben Rudolph (I learned his name when he replied to a comment I made on his post), described how, inspired by a facebook page called The Humans of New York, he began photographing people around Stanford he found interesting. This, he says, expanded his horizons in a way similar to the way writing did. It made him more aware of people, it allowed him to learn more about them. Now, all of this really struck me personally because my big barrier to advancing as a photographer is my reluctance to approach strangers I want to photograph. This reluctance has stopped me from making some images I would loved to have created. Yet another message from the universe: Get over it.
The second article about writing that showed up in my email was from the Tomorrow’s Professor email newsletter (coincidentally, sponsored by the Stanford Center for Teaching and Learning). The article is by Rick Reis and titled The Practice of Writing [#1209, not yet up on the website, but I’m sure it will be soon]. While this piece was perhaps intended more for the “publish or perish” crowd of the academic world, and after all I AM retired, its message resonated for me. Dr. Reis’ contention is that writing must be nurtured by consistent practice. He suggests that “we treat writing as a creative, life-inspiring practice,” and that we must overcome the psychological and emotional barriers in ourselves that stand in the way of writing. He advocates making writing a consistent enjoyable ritual, a “book-marking of time.” Hmmmmm….self discipline, consistency.
So finally then, all that Web interconnectedness gave me my message from the universe: write, photograph, communicate -consistnetly. To experience the world more fully and to contribute to it more meaningfully, one must nourish what is worthwhile. Nourishing takes time and commitment. We all know that. But sometimes the universe must conspire to remind us.
Interestingly, just reading these various postings and planning to write about them as I went through my days filled my mind with other thoughts I want to write about – thus proving their validity, at least for me. So, another day….