It’s very easy nowadays to label yourself a writer. To a large extent writing has become fetishized by mainstream media and pop culture to embody a type of idealistic art.
Most learn in high school or undergraduate courses about the three main purposes of writing; to inform, to persuade, and to entertain. However, we are seldom taught of the most important purpose of writing, one that truly defines the character associated most with the craft: writing to express. Expressive writing focuses on the propagation of one’s ideas, opinions, and thoughts, and does not warrant a need to inform an audience of said topic, nor persuade them of its relevance. Although it can manifest itself into a persuasive, informative, or even literary work, when if examined through an artistic lens it is to write as if nobody is willing to read. It’s true purpose, therefore, becomes rather arbitrary and lies in the interpretation of the reader and the self-satisfaction of the author.
Amidst a plethora of discerning opinions arises the belief with which I firmly coincide, which is that all real writers a born out of expressive writing. We can all become masters of chronicling various events, and finding room to debate on paper, as most of us are taught the basic principles of composition one way or another, but it takes a particular type of person to go beyond the classroom walls and bring their craft into a more personal environment. Whether this be in the form of a memoir, a poem, or a journal, the writing inherently contributes to the process of human thought, and generates culture. It’s something that a school essay cannot capture unless the student is already enticed by the simple idea of writing the paper. It’s the meditative qualities that go hand-in-hand with expressive writing that cause such great works to take shape out of a few notes scratched on the last few pages of a waiting room magazine. Ultimately, my goal is not to discredit writers that write for professional purposes, but to present an understanding of the idea that at the end of the day it’s expression that makes a writer. Writing out of any purpose does not set the tone for whether a work materializes into something of substance, or reflect one’s skill level. I could write a novel worth 300 pages, and have its entire contents consist of onomatopoeic representations of a horse sniffing, panting, and galloping, title it The Great Gait. It certainly would not be subject to much critical acclaim, but does that mean that I cannot call myself a writer? I would most definitely be still considered a writer, not a very talented one, but still a writer.
Writing isn’t about associating labels to a craft that is unique to every individual. If you have something to say or an emotion you want to convey, and the fire inside you isn’t let it just turn into a memory and you choose to write about it – that is what makes you a writer.