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Why I Write

David Epstein MD discusses the reasons for why he writes, as reflection of filling a number of needs.

Why did I decide to write?

There are a lot of other things that I could do with my time. What do I get out of writing and why has it become so important to me? I have been contemplating these questions recently and decided to write an article about why I write.

There are many reasons why people write and these motivations may be shared by many other people. However, while each person’s motivation to write may overlap with others, the exact reason is shaped by one’s own experience, personality, character, and other variables. Hence, each person’s reason for writing is unique to them. And, this uniqueness creates a voice that is all their own.

I have found that my motivation for writing has been forged by a desire to stay mentally sharp, create a legacy, teach, and promote my own self-care. This revelation only came to me recently. For some, I am sure there was an earlier self-reflective phase that made them realize these influential factors sooner. But, mine took a little while to appreciate and identify.

 

I have found that my motivation for writing has been forged by a desire to stay mentally sharp, create a legacy, teach, and promote my own self-care. Click To Tweet

 

As we mature, one sees how mental sharpness can wane. It is more evident in some than others. As I find myself in the middle phase of my life, I see how easy it is to cruise and rest on intellectual laurels. I fear the possible mental atrophy with aging and want to stay mentally stimulated, intellectually and creatively. Writing helps fill the need to exercise my mind and use the critical and creative thinking skills to stay sharp, focused, and mentally fit.

Another reason that I’ve found motivating is the idea of creating a legacy. Writing puts things in print for others to read, while we are here and after we are gone. It is also a good way to pass along a piece of oneself to others and have them see who you are or who you were. As I have a family, it will be nice to establish a catalog of writings that express my thoughts and experiences, so that they will have a sense of who I am or was for years to come. We all want to know our heritage and this is one way to create of glimpse of it for subsequent generations.

 

“As I find myself in the middle phase of my life, I see how easy it is to cruise and rest on intellectual laurels.

 

Part of creating a legacy through writing involves reflective pieces and stories, but part of the legacy is also linked to teaching. As my medical career has progressed, I find it so important to teach others. It is crucial to train subsequent generations of medical personnel and pass on professional secrets and teachings to them. This also creates a legacy in that each medical professional that we train will care for other individuals.

As we care for individuals directly, our students amplify our care by caring for others who we will never meet…but are touched by us through teaching those who care for them. We also have the opportunity to teach the community and educate them in a way that cultivates better health through a better understanding of health. We read and study to keep abreast of current research, knowledge, and practices. As we teach others, we continue to learn and teach ourselves.

 

As we care for individuals directly, our students amplify our care by caring for others who we will never meet…but are touched by us through teaching those who care for them. Click To Tweet

 

Finally, I feel that writing has helped me with self-care. While there are many aspects of self-care, writing has become an important part of it for me at this time. It has not only been a way to express myself as I ponder various topics, but also a method to express my creativity. Expressing oneself in a creative manner is cathartic and healing. Being able to create something that others appreciate or find valuable is energizing and gratifying. The creative process helps relieve stress and uses a different part of one’s mind. As I feel mentally rejuvenated by using my creative side, it helps me focus better on my routine medical work and my life outside of work. It has given me a sense of accomplishment in a different area of my life that I didn’t know that I needed.

 

Expressing oneself in a creative manner is cathartic and healing. Being able to create something that others appreciate or find valuable is energizing and gratifying. Click To Tweet

 

Deciding to write came as an evolution of reflecting upon myself and what I needed. Figuring out what I wanted and why I wanted it took me some time, but I eventually realized the what and the why. Others may have different reasons and journeys to finding out why they write and that is the beauty of writing. It seems to fill a variety of needs. Writing is simple and complex, funny and sad, intellectual and silly, and many more contradicting descriptors. But, in the end, writing is ultimately unique and reflects the creator of the sentences, paragraphs, and pages in a way that is special and impactful. This is why I write.

Why do you write?

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