Why I Write: “Writing to Understand”

My views on writing have changed through the years. As a kid, I wrote to gain some attention. As a teenager, I wrote to transport myself out of my own life. Now, as a young adult, I write to understand.

I write about the aspects of life I don’t understand. Lately, I’ve noticed that those aspects are mainly focused on me and my current life. I’m figuring things out. I’m going through the motions. I write to make sure I don’t forget – to make sure I actually reflect on what’s happening around me.

It’s so easy to get caught up in everyday life. It’s so easy to forget what we think about during our days, to forget our ideas, and to forget to do the activities that actually make us feel alive.

It’s always baffled me how hard it has been for me to do things I enjoy. Simply put: I enjoy writing. I always have, and I plan on always doing so. Yet I know I don’t write enough. I forget. I get caught up in everyday life. I stress and worry and come home exhausted from work.

I’ve always viewed writing as an escape. The act of writing feels like a homecoming for me. It’s as if writing embodies this space free of life’s pettiness. It’s where I feel most like myself. When I don’t write for a long time, I feel out of touch. It’s as if writing is the only way that I can actually feel connected to myself. In “Why I Write,” Joan Didion says she writes to understand her thoughts – to think. I find that idea incredible, and incredibly true for me. Writing is where I can gather my thoughts. It’s this powerful force that has guided me through life. I couldn’t imagine not allowing myself to write ever again, as that would be like some sort of death.

I have so many questions and so many things I’m curious about. How will I remember all of these if I don’t write about them? There is so much I don’t know, and there is so much to learn. Writing is the gateway to understanding and learning. Writing is how I figure things out. I can’t help it – I have to write. I write because it’s a part of me. I write because some higher being, whether physical or spiritual, implanted me with this impulse. It’s a part of me that I’ve cast aside for so long, and it’s a part of me that I need to be more grateful about. I’ve allowed life to get in the way, instead of giving myself the freedom to forge my own life.

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About Natasha Brewer

Natasha Brewer is a recent graduate from the University of Missouri and currently lives in San Francisco, California. She's been a writer for as long as she can remember, and loves fiction and poetry.