94. A man writes either to assist his memory, or to help others, or for both reasons; or else he writes in order to injure certain people, or to show off, or out of necessity.
In this age where we have made publication easy for all, the above text is perhaps more relevant than ever. Why do we write?
For me, there is an element of necessity. I have always written, though I have not and do not always choose to publish. Sometimes it’s the only thing that will stop a train of connected thoughts from constantly bouncing around my head. Sometimes it’s the way I figure out what I think or believe about something.
At other times, especially at work, writing is a way to construct a perception of a problem that leads to a solution. Even if the discussion ends up being in person or via conference call, I find that writing a paper beforehand tends to frame and shape the discussion. Providing something written in our literate culture accomplishes something that words alone do not.
Why then do I blog? As I’ve written elsewhere, I decided to start my blog when I was diagnosed with celiac disease. I believed and still believe that capturing my thoughts, discoveries, and experiences with the disease could possibly help others. Although celiac related posts are only a part of what I choose to publish (and then only when I have something I believe is helpful on the topic to post), I do notice that most of the search results that land on my blog are food or celiac related searches. I think my original goal of helping others remains valid.
Once I decided to start my blog, I also decided not to limit what I post. I hardly post everything I write, much less everything I think, but I’m not looking for a niche. I have no desire to focus my blog in a single area. I also have no desire to gain readership. I deliberately chose and customized a very plain and boring theme and most of my posts tend to be little more than text. Both decisions were and are intentional. If you read what I write, it’s either because you already know me personally or you find something I write either interesting or helpful.
I’m aware that the things we write can injure others and I have no desire to injure anyone. I’m cautious in the things I choose to say. I know that words have power. As children we say, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me,” not because we believe the refrain is true, but because we know it isn’t and we are seeking to ward off injury. Words can damage and change us in deep and lasting ways. Physical injuries heal. Words can stay with us a lifetime.
If you’re reading this and you write, why do you write?