Table Mama – the betel nut vendor
Sheena’s writing journey: The hobby that became a way of life

Why we need to write – it’s a pathway to success


SONOMA - We need to write to develop our mind, generate new ideas and clarify our thinking.

Yet the reality is that it’s hard being a writer. Literary work is not jolly work. Literary success comes on the back of hard work and the expenditure of mental energy.

The art, craft and business of writing takes time, focus and significant effort to conjure, organise, visualize, develop characters and stories and then interpret this into the written word that readers will understand and enjoy.

To compound this problem are the myriad shiny distractions that fill our lives. In such a world, it is easy to procrastinate and forgo the ideas that are meant to stir our souls and the world.

But we write anyway, in spite of all this. So why do we need to write?

Firstly to develop our mind, the great asset endowed to us by a benevolent creator. One of the best way to sharpen our mind is by thinking - and writing.

Writing is really thinking on paper. The act of writing forces the mind to think and generate ideas. The mind mints the best ideas and words, and logically organises them so they stream from subterranean depths and race to the conscious mind.

Writing enables the mind to weave its creative magic to craft prose and poetry that can be logical, insightful, elegant and even breathtaking.

In my opinion, thinking and writing represent the highest use of our mental ability to foster creativity and innovation. Writing also sharpens reasoning power and refines the thinking process.

Fine thinking is developed by fine writing. Without well-practiced writing, the best efforts at putting words on paper can be incoherent, illogical and impossible for the reader to understand.

Second, we need to write to generate ideas. Ideas are powerful force to change the world. Not by the force of arms but by the force of ideas can the world be changed.

Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s adage ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’ attests to the power of ideas.

Ideas are potent. The ideas of Karl Marx on socialism changed the world (not always for the better). The ideas of an obscure Galilean recorded by unlearnt fishermen turned the world upside down.

Ideas are influential. They give birth to social change, trigger revolution, lift people to the sunlight uplands or consign society to the nadir of economic disaster

We need to write to spread ideas that change society and make our governments better.

The wind of change leading to the dethronement Peter O’Neill and the election of James Marape was created from the power of ideas whose time had come.

Ideas that weighed heavily against corruption, collusion and cronyism travelled through space and across time and eventually created a tsunami of discontent that replaced an inept and corrupt government.

Ideas dissemiated on social media by a concerned people were largely responsible for this outcome.

Third, we need to write to clarify our thinking. You can cannot really understand the quality of what you are thinking until you write your ideas.

As we write the brain organises our thoughts and we think more clearly and logically. Remez Sasson estimated that the mind thinks between 60,000 – 80,000 thoughts a day. That’s 2,500 – 3,300 thoughts an hour.

Those thoughts could yield a diamond if we took the time to record and organise them. Following a vein of thought could lead to a gem of idea that might lead to poem, a book or a musical masterpiece.

The arts maestro and polymath Michael Angelo was known to keep a notebook of his hunches, impressions and inspirations. American genius Thomas Edison did the same.

If we record our ideas, and we have many ideas, we are on the way to a better place. Perhaps writing a book, inventing a new product, imagining a better system….

So write, and write now. The more we write, the better we write, and eventually we can reach a level of mastery and can make us an expert at the craft of writing.


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Alexander Tagi

Great inspiration. You have enlightened me with new insights.

I am reading and writing any new insights that appeal to me hoping one day I would be an author and publish a book. All contained in my personal journals.

Caroline Evari

The pen is indeed mightier than the sword. I enjoyed this article, Simon. Very useful.

Arthur Williams

Simon I enjoyed your essay urging us all to write.

I have been a bookworm since my first library ticket at age 7 or 8. I think we were allowed 3 books a week or may have been a fortnight.

Arriving in PNG’s rural backwaters without TV I would make use of the evening’s only book hire shop in Boroko. Think it was 20 toea each to borrow with 10 toea refund on returning it.

Living in the Western Province I would grab 100 of the thickest books I could see on among the thousands on display and carefully pack them for delivery on the company’s chartered Steamships vessel to our Aramia River destination.

When I had a need to write I was able to use a battered old Underwood typewriter, given to me by an old German friend in Kavieng, because my distant family said they had difficulty reading my terrible handwriting.

Then wonders of wonders along comes the computer age and I can spend too long just enjoying writing all sorts of ideas or ‘thinking on paper’ as you so succinctly wrote.

To date I just checked I have ‘stuff’ saved of 497MB or 1,231 files in 29 folders on my now ageing disk. At least the white ants can eat them as they did with my books back home in Taskul.

Finally I quote a favourite four lines of a poem that my old dad could recall 80 years after he first memorised them in his school days.

I think they are an 11th century warning to any of us who blog or post to un-administered social media:

"The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it."

('The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyám')

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