I recently spoke to a Creative Writing class at a local high school. The kids were bright and funny and curious, and I enjoyed interacting with them.
“Self-expression” was a topic we touched on—briefly, but more than once—and it got me thinking later.
Of course writing is a way of expressing yourself, and wanting to express yourself is a legitimate reason to write.
But there’s so much more.
Writing is also a way to discover and process the larger, changing, complex, familiar world around you.
When you encounter something new, you are more likely to remember it if you can name it. And you’re more likely to understand it if you have to describe it.
In struggling to find just the right words to share that new experience or idea with someone else, you refine your own understanding of it. Without that struggle, the experience is more likely to fade.
Writing is not just about getting our ideas out. It’s also about getting new ideas in.