Write it now: the truth of writing, and the ultimate writing challenge

I was taught writing by a poet. Formally, in a succession of tertiary courses, in the late 1970s. The lessons I took about writing from him carried a value well beyond what I really knew, then.

This is me doing my 'writing getaway' impression on Rarotonga.

This is me doing my ‘writing getaway’ impression on Rarotonga.

To this day, after 30 years and more than 50 published books and 500 feature articles, on top of this blog and other stuff totalling more than two million words in print, I still think of that poet’s lessons whenever I write anything.

What was the essence of his teaching? Questions. ‘What did they feel’? ‘What did that mean for them?’ And, implicitly, ‘how can we, as writers, understand and express that?’

Those questions are true for all writing, especially non-fiction, where such are the hardest of all questions to answer – and yet, also the most important. Why? Because they provide us with understanding. And yet the picture and emotional force in the mind – the fuel that drives all writers, drives anything truly creative and human – is literally inexpressible in the flawed vehicle of the word. Translating it to words destroys its perfection. We have to accept that words alone cannot convey the true picture, shape, colour and depth of concepts, feelings and emotions.

Indeed, when we think about it, the mind of one person cannot perceive the way another conceives something, for we can only express such in the limiting way of words.

And yet it is the duty – the mission – of all writers to try and discover ways of expressing themselves, in words, despite those limits.

That is the challenge. It is what writers must do. And over the next while I am now going to tell you – given the limits words place on concept – how to do it. At least as I understand it. I hope you’ll come along for the journey.

Along with other fun stuff which I’m adding to this blog because – well, it’s fun.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2014

Coming up: more writing tips, fun science geekery including that custard lightspeed trick, and more.

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7 comments on “Write it now: the truth of writing, and the ultimate writing challenge

  1. Your perspective of writing is really interesting. I think it’s fascinating how different writers learn from different styles. It inspires me in my adventures with my own literary blog. Keep writing!

    • Writing is very much a personalised skill; there are general parameters that need to be met, but the way of meeting them is usually personal to the writer. You have to do what works best for you.

  2. EagleAye says:

    Dude, this is inspiring. I feel like you’ve given me a motivational speech. Thank you!

  3. Great stuff, Matt. I’m looking forward to this series.

  4. KM Huber says:

    In a nutshell, Matthew: “…the mind of one person cannot perceive the way another conceives something,” and because we cannot know the experience of another mind reading our words, it is as if we create worlds we could never know, if that makes sense. Words are all we have yet they, too, take on a meaning we may never know. This series sounds really fascinating. Looking forward to it.
    Karen

    • Thank you. One of the intriguing facets of the whole phenomenon is the extent to which the meaning received by the recipient adds value that the author never envisaged. I will have to explore that and it will be interesting to see what others think about that one.

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