Do you remember writing letters as a kid? Maybe you had a pen pal or a best friend whose family decided to move to Alaska (this actually happened to me). Or did you ever scribble notes on scraps of paper and pass them back and forth with friends in class? I’m old enough to remember these things. I fondly remember addressing envelopes to friends in towns far from mine, sharpening my stash of colored pencils, and keeping one of my very first journals under lock and key. This was before the internet and long before cell phones and all the ways we’ve sped up our communicating. Email, texting, and rapid fire social media accounts are erasing our memory and the value of writing with our own hands and pencils.
When my husband and I moved into our home, a tiny, 100-year old bungalow, to my sheer delight I discovered a pencil sharpener tucked in a corner of our mudroom pantry. I’ve since returned to writing with pencils and taken a curious interest in the bountiful array of pencil brands that exist. You can proudly write with the Big Dipper, the Dragonfly, and my personal favorite, the Palomino Blackwing, which Christopher surprised me with as a gift last year. It was so beautiful that for months I didn’t want to use it, but realized how ridiculous that was and shoved it into my pencil sharpener and away I went. (I have now entered into the world of pencil loving and finding. You can start down the same rabbit hole by visiting this shop).
Who has time for paper and pencils?! An honest question in our day-to-day life of workloads in front of screens, to-do-lists and errands, demands we strive to meet, and efficiencies we make great efforts to grab hold of. Our days rush past us – some of them even feeling like tidal waves that clobber us.
Sitting down to write a letter or a journal entry may feel antiquated, even a waste of time. iPhones are infinitely more exciting to hold, and as a tool are an infinitely more exciting way to connect. This may be true.
But there is another infinite world of connection, imagination and words that exists in your spirit, freed from a screen and the demands of productivity. I will dare say that writing for the sake of writing is one of the most life-giving, spirit-engaging activities and gifts you can do for yourself as a creative.
It is the goodness of slowing down…
It is the life-sparking act of listening to your own voice instead of the internet’s.
It is creating something for the sake of its own value, not to impress anyone.
It is cathartic.
It is giving yourself permission to say whatever the heck you want.
It is a vote for reinhabiting your own handwriting.
Your artist voice is infinitely wild with imagination, curiosity, and words to share. The choice of returning to it through the tangible act of writing (and maybe pencil-loving?!), is an act of reawakening and re-igniting your creative spirit, the spirit that years ago loved crayons and pencils, paper and making for the sake of making.
Amy teaches Your Spirit in Words + Imagery, a four-week online writing class created just for photographers. The March 2017 session is open for registration.
Our “What I Have to Say” Wednesday series features established photographers and artists with messages they just can’t keep inside. Authentically and honestly, our writers share words of wisdom to challenge, encourage, and inspire.