Why do we say, using modern English, that a doctor “practices” medicine and a lawyer “practices” law? Why does no other profession require the “practice” nomenclature tacked onto the title?
Writing is hard. Not necessarily the same brand of “hard” as being a doctor or lawyer, but hard nonetheless. Good writing requires a level of focus and mental agility that I’ve scarcely had to apply in any other activity. Committing words to paper to explore ideas while simultaneously entertaining a reader requires balance. The editing process takes patience and the willingness to rip your own carefully constructed sentences apart for the sake of readability or conciseness or whatever requires humility. The act of publishing writing for the world to read requires the courage to expose your personality and belief systems to the elements, whatever they may be.
And, on top of that, writing requires the perseverance of constant and continued learning and experimenting. The laws of language are as fixed as and unbreakable as a house made of feathers. Definitions of words change all the time. Grammar is largely subjective depending on style. Common metaphors get wrung of all meaning from overuse and celebrities and politicians heap new connotations on certain topics every time they open their mouths.
It’s all so exciting!
Activities are not enjoyable unless there is some aspect of challenge. Writing is the most exhilarating experience that can occur without any external influence. For me, putting words on paper is the sole activity where creation and exploration are one in the same.
Author Flannery O’Conner said, “I write because I don't know what I think until I read what I say.” I write, then I get ideas, not the other way around.
Earlier this year, I wrote about the practice of journaling. This daily, mental exercise I consider just as valuable as physical exercise. What good is a sound body without a sound mind? Writing allows me to play on paper - with ideas, with words - and the result is something new, whether it be something to try, a discovery about myself, a task to complete or, at very least, a page filled with ink that was blank prior.
I consider every piece of writing to be practice. For what? Well, for the piece after that. And the piece after that. There’s no winning the game. There’s no ultimate level to reach and no ceiling to hit. I’ll never arrive. Writing means a life of learning, experimenting, relearning and re-implementing.
And that is just one of the hundreds of reasons why I write.