The art of writing is something near and dear to my heart. It’s my passion, it’s what I do to make a living and that thrills me to know end. I love using words to create sentences to create images to potentially creating an impact with an audience.
But trying to describe what writing is to others has often proved an intangible task: I am asked all the time about writing but the answer never satisfies the asker. ‘How do you write?’ I want to say, I write with pen and paper. And it has to be the right pen and the right piece of paper. I want to say, the ideas flow from my brain down my left arm and out through my fingers.
I know neither of these answers are what the asker is looking for. They want the step by step recipe for writing. They want a recipe because that way maybe they could write. But writing is just not the same as baking a cake. There is no cup of flour equals great plot methodology.
What is writing? What is the art of writing?
Those two questions aren’t the same. Everyone writes. Letters, text messages, essays, emails, it’s something we are taught to do at a young age. We move from shaky letters to printing to writing, to typing till it becomes second nature. Words form, fingers move and writing happens.
But the art of writing is something very different. It’s the connotation of the word ‘art.’ To see writing as an art. That’s the difference between someone who writes and a writer. Writers carefully place words on the page like drops of paint or notes of music. That is when writing becomes an art.
Words are special to the writer, they are not there to get from point A to point B. For the writer, words are rocket ships to another world. Only the right words will do, in the right order with the appropriate punctuation. The wrong punctuation and the ship will crash. Sometimes the writer has to watch their ship crash over and over again.
Another defining element of the art of writing – the writer works at it. It’s not second nature. It’s something to be worked at, improved, taken to the next level.
When the words are right, not only do they affect the writer, they also affect the audience. That’s something else which defines the art of writing – the words are not functional, they are there for the enjoyment, the alienation, the love, the pain, the humour of someone else. Writing as an art requires an audience, whether it’s a single reader, a packed theatre, a poetry reading. The audience is necessary to provide a reaction. The audience provides an emotional response. All necessary to the art of writing. There must be an emotional component.
That is the definition of the art of writing at its core: the expression of a writer for the reaction of an audience.It’s not necessarily sophisticated or highbrow or unreachable as sometimes something ‘arty’ is defined. It’s human emotion through words.
And that is something tangible and very understandable.