I was watching the thrilling yet insanely awesome M. Night Shyamalan film “The Sixth Sense” the other day, and aside from the notorious line “I see dead people,” there was something else that still stuck in my mind.
Bruce Willis’ character, Dr. Malcolm Crowe, is young Cole Sear’s (portrayed by Haley Joel Osment) psychologist. It’s pretty clear that the frightened child has something drastically different about him– after all, he sees dead people– but there was one thing that Dr. Crowe said would help him connect with his feelings on a deeper level. He told him to just write. Write words, the first that come to his head; eventually, ideas and full-fledged sentences will pour through.
This got me to thinking whether that was even possible or not. To just write constantly, just write words and see if, eventually, my mind’s connection with my pen can make something of them.
I mean, don’t you have to be inspired to write something? Can you just blurt out words and expect something to happen?
And just like the film proved, yes, you can (albeit our thoughts may not be as dark as Cole’s).
It’s neither hard nor easy to come by inspiration when we want to write. Sometimes it throws itself at you, sometimes you’re desperately looking for it in a jungle of thoughts that you don’t feel belong. Regardless, you must continue to write. William Faulkner himself has said, “Don’t be a writer, be writing.”
You don’t have to be inspired. You don’t have to have deep thoughts to get a message through. You just need words. Words that shape sentences. After that, they can shape feelings, thoughts, protests, secrets, manifestations… Whatever comes out.
I, for one, write when I’m inspired. I write when I’m not. Granted, it is pretty easy to tell which piece was written off of inspiration: it’s usually crafted more artistically, more poetically. But who says that that’s the RIGHT way? There is no RIGHT way. There is only one way, and that’s getting the words in your head on the paper in front of you.
It’s greatly important to just write simply once in a while, and not feel the need to cloak sentiments in metaphors or allusions, similes or idioms. To just get the cloud of words out, as raw and candidly as possible. Essentially, it’s important to just say it how it is.
Communicating with someone is difficult enough in itself, and some people have this crazy and absurd notion that communicating with oneself is easy, or at least easier.
We all have deep, dark, and quiet truths; we may wish to admit them, we may desire to keep them nestled in the depths of our soul. Regardless, they are there. And they could be things that are difficult to come to terms with, even with yourself.
Nevertheless, I still like to write about them. I like to write about the somber reality that lies within me, the more shadowed side that I don’t show people, not even to myself. I write these things, things I cannot even say out loud, in a diary, for instance. I keep this diary in a drawer nearby, with keys at the ready, in case I have the fiery urge to let something out once in a while. And I do, quite often.
But it doesn’t have to be a diary. It doesn’t have to be something that you keep with you, even. But just write it down. On a scratch paper, a lined paper, a college ruled notebook with some scribbled math problems you’ve been trying to solve. Write it in sentences, in bullet points. Write it one word at a time, no linearity or coherence necessary. Just write it.
Then if you want to, you can keep it. Fold it and put it in your pocket. Or you can rip it to shreds and throw it in the nearest bin. You don’t even have to read it when you’re done. But that liberating feeling that follows once your mind seeps through the ink and onto the paper is going to be worth it, that’s a given.
Maybe for some of us, writing is not always the answer to freeing ourselves of anchors that can weigh us down. After all, we are all different. Not all of us think the same, feel the same, look the same or act the same. Which means that we can all have different ways of unveiling our emotions to ourselves or to others.
But if you haven’t tried it yet, if you haven’t just once sat down to write anything, fiction or reality, do it. Try it. See how it tastes, how it feels. Just experience it. I find it gratifying, maybe you will too. And if it doesn’t work, that’s still alright. No harm ever came from trying. The beauty will always be there, regardless.
Because those are your words. You wrote them. You own them. You can do what you want with them. And while Cole’s gift isn’t exactly a blessing, like the film poster suggest, writing is. So let’s use it.