top of page
  • Writer's pictureDylan Parry

Writing is evidence of life. So live.

Updated: Dec 23, 2020

I read something the other day (exactly where escapes me now) about the importance of inhabiting the page when writing. And it really rang true for me.

If I dared to look back at all the things I’ve ever written, and rank them by quality (eek), I reckon that ranking would correlate pretty closely with the proportion of myself that I invested in the writing.

To write your best stuff, you need to go all in. Head and heart. Or – to employ a wholly inappropriate football analogy – both feet. But the point is you need to live and breathe every word, sentence and paragraph, rolling them around in your head like Bowie's balls.

To be clear, I’m not talking about creating works of huge literary value. I'm not talking about casting down sentences of Herculean strength and Shakespearean floridity at every turn. I’m just talking about investing your writing with enough life to reward your reader’s attention. 

Thing is, we so often allow ourselves to be only semi-present, only semi-committed. And that’s always when the dross pours forth.

So why do we let it happen? Well, I think what we sometimes forget is that written communication is essentially an act between two people. An act with two sides: writing and reading.

Take a second to think of other acts that occur between two people: conversation, dancing, or anything else that comes to mind. If one person is not present in the moment, it tends to become embarrassingly apparent, and the whole interaction shrivels up and dies. Or at least becomes vastly diminished from what it might otherwise be. 

Now, I can almost hear you protesting that writing is different because the writer and reader engage in different moments.

That's true of course, just as it is of any form of communication that uses a recorded medium: film, music, art. But it doesn't excuse the writer from the need to fully engage at the point of creation. If anything, there is more need to do so, since there won’t be the opportunity for live feedback, as there is with a conversation.

If we don't fully turn on, tune in and commit, it will be evident when our reader later picks up our words, only to be hit by the whiff of vacuousness, and a smorgasbord of lacklustre, half-hearted choices. 

Do you remember that feeling of entering an unfamiliar room that feels 'lived in’? It's not always immediately obvious why it feels this way, though we could probably identify some reasons if we stopped to think. 

Maybe it's the assortment of faded Polaroids, propped up at irregular intervals along the bookshelf. Maybe it's the perma-indents in the sofa cushions, like dinosaur footprints awaiting future analysis, a memorial to the countless gravitationally-assisted plantings of tired bottoms. Or maybe it's the glitter glue applied to the moustache on the Lord Kitchener ‘YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU’ poster, up above the spider plant. These signs tell you that living has happened here. People have felt things.

Now contrast that with the experience of entering one of those immaculate IKEA show rooms. People have occupied the space before you, undoubtedly, but your senses tell you straight away that nobody has done anything remotely like real living here.

I think it's the same with writing. When we’ve inhabited the page, it’s tangible, just as it is when we haven’t.

So next time you're writing, don't be fooled by the apparent solitude. Your partner may not have arrived yet, but they’ll be along in a bit. 

Be sure to let them know you were there.

49 views0 comments


More free thinking?

One finely-tuned, fiercely-pruned email every month.

Often useful, never dull.

All done, see you soon...

Who cares what I think?

Your inbox is awash with newsletters, I know. 

That's why I keep mine simple: just one thought I've had and one thing I've seen.

You might just love it. 

All done, see you soon...

bottom of page