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Why I Write

It might be your reason, too


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Lynda Dietz

a year ago | 7 min read

I was talking with a friend one night about what’s going on in our lives. We hadn’t caught up in a while, and he was telling me about his realization that good things are happening through the very things that are making him miserable.

He plays guitar — classical style, with a lot of intricate fingerwork — and he’d been experiencing some issues with the tendons in his hand, which was causing extreme pain when he attempted to play. Having forced time away from it was making him bitter about his unfortunate circumstance, but it gave him time to reflect on what he missed most about it.

He said he gradually realized that he’d made guitar his personal idol in many ways. He loved the thrill of working his way through a complicated piece, but he looked forward to the adulation that followed when he played for an audience. His bitterness was rooted in the loss of the ego stroking more than the loss of the music.

As a Christian, he said he’d completely lost focus on why he’d started to learn classical guitar in the first place: to glorify God with the musical gift he’d been given. Once he got back to his roots, so to speak, he was able to begin playing again with a modified fingering technique, much like famed jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, with little to no pain.

His epiphany on this front got his writing juices flowing again (he’s also an author), and broke the writer’s block he’d been experiencing during this same time.

I’m not sure how we even got on the topic of writing or what makes us feel better about getting our thoughts on paper (or computer), but he said something that really stuck with me:

“We write from our brokenness.”

I’d never thought of it that way. But as I look back over the course of my life, I realize that writing has always been an outlet for me. When I was a little girl, I kept a diary. It was a silly little-girl diary, with mundane things, wishful thinking, secret crushes, and imaginary conversations I wished I were brave enough to have.

I don’t have that diary anymore . . . as I recall, I rediscovered it in my bedroom when I was in high school, read through it, decided it was cringeworthy, and tossed it in the trash.

I wrote about the real things

When I was in high school, I kept a journal/diary in a spiral-bound notebook. High school meant writing real things. Worries of not being smart enough (I was), as pretty as most of my friends (I was not), or successful enough (I was, in the areas I was passionate about).

Serious pain and heartache borne of the intensity of young “love,” mean people, and parents who didn’t understand that I was good enough, even though I was not a clone of my older sister.

I wrote from my brokenness, even though I wouldn’t have put it into those words at the time. Everything inside me was poured into that notebook, which became two notebooks, and then three — until my mother read through them one day and held my private thoughts against me.

I waited until I was alone one day shortly after that, took the notebooks to a private area behind our neighborhood playground, and burned them after reading through them one last time. I didn’t dare write from my brokenness again, because that would only provide written proof that could be used as ammunition against me.

I wrote what was safe to write about

As a young adult, a few years after I was married, I was part of a women’s Bible study that required us to journal on a regular, if not daily, basis. So I journaled. In fact, I journaled my butt off.

But when I found that particular notebook many years later, I flipped through it and realized it wasn’t about me at all. In fact, I didn’t recognize myself in the writing. My first thought was Wow. I must have really been a deep thinker at the time. This is some profound stuff.

As I read further, though, I came to the realization that I had been writing my “private” thoughts in that book with the idea always in the back of my mind that someone else would find it and somehow end up reading it. You know, the type of stuff people read at someone’s funeral to show a little more of the inner person. As a result, I was writing what I thought would be approved. Safe. Not open for judgment.

It was better to write nothing at all

Basically, I wasn’t journaling anything that would help me at all. And I didn’t write for years. Decades, actually, because life with four children doesn’t allow a lot of time for self-reflection.

We’re busy keeping the little people alive and healthy — which is a good thing — and are completely absorbed in the needs of others to the point of ignoring ourselves — which is not a good thing, but it happens all too easily.

But the urge to write wouldn’t go away

When I started writing again, it was on a site called SparkPeople, where people were encouraged to share their fitness-related struggles and achievements. I tossed a little post on my profile page one day and felt as if I’d exercised my brain in a way I hadn’t for years.

It was a release and an easy expression of me. I deleted that account after a couple years of use, but it had served its purpose: I caught the writing bug again.

I began writing to help other writers

I later began my editing blog to get my name out there and to give writing advice from a copyeditor’s viewpoint. Again, I felt at home. The posts ranged from serious advice to author interviews to the completely silly (but such a blast to put out there) coffee chats.

That blog has gained me more than clients; it’s provided me with long-term friendships, solid acquaintances, and a sense of community that has nothing to do with politics or anything controversial — only like-minded people with a love of what we do best.

Starting up again put me back where I belonged.

Then I finally started writing for myself again

Somehow I ended up with a personal blog as well, separate from writerly things. It was a good one for me, because I could write like myself once again. I filtered a bit, but not much. For the most part, I figured that I wrote for me, and if anyone happened to read it and gain something from it, that was a bonus.

I’ve since dropped the personal blog in favor of writing here on Medium. I have a more varied bunch of readers, and I can decide which publication I want to submit to without forcing a reader to connect with every topic I write about.

Another moment of betrayal

A few years ago, I had a falling out with a close friend, and I shared some of my deepest thoughts with them in a heartfelt letter, only to have a third person read them (without my permission), misinterpret them, and use them against me.

Once again, writing from my brokenness was invaded by someone who took it upon themselves to take ownership over something that was my own, intended for another.

Believe me, there is not much worse than having our own words used against us, especially by those who don’t have the first clue as to where those words stemmed from, the history and emotion behind them, or why they were written.

The light bulb moment

And that brings me back around to my epiphany, courtesy of my friend Stan.

We write from our brokenness, he and I. Not everyone does. For me it’s a regular thing. When something happens and I need to process it, I write. Everything that’s on my mind comes through my hands and onto paper, or into a document on my laptop.

Writing sorts it all out somehow

It’s kind of funny, because when I’m happy, I tell people all about it. I can’t help but share my joy or excitement about something great. But when I’m sad or hurt or angry, I write.

Maybe there’s something in me that says, Don’t scare everyone by telling them how you really feel. You may say something you’ll regret, and you won’t be able to take it back.

When I write out my sadness or frustration, I can reread it and think more clearly. I process what has happened, review it, and figure out how I’m going to respond. Or I process it all in writing only — because in some cases, there will never be an opportunity for resolution.

So I continue to write

Brokenness leads to healing, and if I write from the former, I trust that it will provide the path to the latter as a result.

Writing serves the dual purpose of not only getting it all out, but of providing a way for me to look back and realize how far I’ve come.

And that “looking back” thing? That’s why I write.

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Lynda Dietz

Owner/principal Easy Reader Editing

I'm a freelance copyeditor who works with serious authors to prepare their books for publication. You can find me at my website, below | on Twitter as EasyReaderEdit1 | on Instagram easyreaderediting | on Pinterest & Medium as lyndadietz4 | on LinkedIn as myself


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