We talk often about why we write, how/when we write, and how to write. But what about the value of the act of writing? Why do something if we don’t understand it’s importance and benefits? An article in The Courier-Journal captured exactly why writing is extremely important and moreover, how it benefits the writer themselves.
Angela Burton teaches ‘Oh, I Remember’ writing workshops in retirement homes in the Louisville area and the classes are quickly spreading. This is one of the best ideas I have heard in a long time and it really made me think about why we should all be writing. Seniors in the retirement home meet weekly, bringing along their weekly writing assignments. They use the class time to read their writing to each other. Most of the stories are about their childhood, people who have long passed on, places they have visited, losses they have endured, and historical events they have witnessed.
Many of these seniors feel isolated, alone, and segregated from the life they used to have. Most of them feel like they no longer have a purpose and that their life is already over, even though they are very much still alive. The act of writing and sharing lets them relive their happiest moments, process the loss they still feel, and learn new facts about their friends. At the end of the day, writing is therapeutic, relaxing, and rewarding. These seniors feel like they are leaving something behind, that otherwise would be lost. They feel as if they still have something to contribute to society.
For me, that perfectly captures the spirit of writing. Writing is meant for communication, for preservation, for learning. We write to share our stories, whether they are figments of our imagination or real life events. We write as therapy to make ourselves feel better, whether it is an e-mail that never gets sent, a poem about a life event, or a novel length memoir. Writing is an accomplishment, something to be proud of. Our sense of purpose is never clearer then after a heartfelt and honest writing session.
The effects these writing classes are having on these senior citizens emphasizes why we all need to be writing. The next time you pick up a pad of paper and pen or sit down at your computer, just stop to think for a few seconds. Think about why you are doing this and how it makes you feel. Take that knowledge and treasure it for your entire life. Never let it go and never stop writing. Write on.