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Why Writing is Good for Us

Tonight was my last night for the college creative writing class.  I end by giving them the "everything I wish other writing teachers had told me but didn't" lecture.  We talk a little about growing as writers and publishing.  I end with this pep talk about why writing is good for them, whether they decided to write for publication, or just tinker around on their own.  It's kind of a pep talk that uses an extended simile.  I stretch the simile quite a bit by the end.

Writing does for the head, what jogging does for the body.

  • Like jogging, writing requires dedication & a consistent schedule to be the most effective  (three thirty minute sessions a week will do more for you than one four hour marathon on Saturday).
  • Like jogging, writing must be fitted into a schedule that already looks full--the benefit is writers organize their time better (The best time for me to write is between 4 & 6 am)
  • Like jogging, a writer must work her way into it, but with time and training, impressive efforts are possible (Robert Louis Stevenson wrote Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in one forty-eight hour period, but he'd been training for years).
  • Writing helps the writer lose brain fat and build the thinking muscle--the fat caused by consuming the junk food of television, and the predigested pap of People Magazine.
  • Writing fights the build up of cholesterol on the arteries of imagination.
  • Writing improves the efficiency of the heart of the intellect.
  • Writing clears out the lungs of thought.
  • Writing keeps us young (imagination & creativity are the hallmarks of youth) 
  • Writing encourages us to give up mentally unhealthy habits (not thinking about what we hear, accepting written words as gospel, keeping us open minded)
  • Writing improves our sex lives--nah!  probably not (though some people maintain that half of good sex is thinking about it, and who is a better, more practiced thinker than the writer?)
  • Writing helps us live longer:  by stretching our subjective lives, we both notice more about our own past and pay more attention to our present.  You know how sometimes you can be reading in a book and realize that you have no idea what the last couple of pages said?  Our lives can be like that too, although the "couple of pages" can be a couple of days or couple of years.  I think that lost time happens less frequently to writers.  They are more aware more of the time.
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Really Cool Phrase for the Day: Caledonian Antisyzygy, which means "a combination of opposites."  I found it while doing some reading on "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde."

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Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
dakegra
May. 13th, 2008 10:12 am (UTC)
that's a fantastic phrase!
jimvanpelt
May. 13th, 2008 03:15 pm (UTC)
Now, if I can just figure a way to work it into idle conversation. How do you think you would pronounce "antisyzygy"?
dakegra
May. 13th, 2008 03:17 pm (UTC)
anti - sih-zih-gee

:-)
goodkingjay3
May. 13th, 2008 01:11 pm (UTC)
Great post! I just wanted to say thanks for sharing your blog. You always have great advice and make the perfect analogies. I enjoy sharing your advice with my friends and pointing them towards your blog when they're looking for something particular to help them with their writing.
jimvanpelt
May. 13th, 2008 03:16 pm (UTC)
You are welcome!
albionidaho
May. 13th, 2008 01:40 pm (UTC)
That's fabulous! Thank you so much for sharing these things.
jimvanpelt
May. 13th, 2008 03:16 pm (UTC)
Hey, great icon! What is it from?
wldhrsjen3
May. 13th, 2008 02:07 pm (UTC)
Great post. Thanks!
jimvanpelt
May. 13th, 2008 03:17 pm (UTC)
You are welcome. As much as I like that night class, holding the last class puts me one step closer to summer, so I'm not really sorry to end it.
garyfrank
May. 13th, 2008 05:21 pm (UTC)
Jim,

Thanks for the great, insightful post. It's too easy to get bogged down in the day to day stuff and forget that writing does more for the soul than just get words on paper.

I'm going to share this with the Garden State Horror Writers, a multi-genre writing organization in New Jersey and I'll make sure to link your blog so people can connect with your wisdom.

Thanks again!


Gary . . .
jimvanpelt
May. 17th, 2008 06:53 pm (UTC)
Hi, Gary. I'm glad you liked it. It's a fun speech to deliver too. So many people equate writing with publishing and forget that writing has benefits entirely separate from selling the stuff.

It would be like equating jogging with Olympic medals.

"I'm a jogger," he said.

"Oh, and how many gold medals have you won?" she asked, her tea-cup delicately held near her lips.

"None. I just like the exercise."

"Hmph!" She turned away in disdain.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )