I like to think of writing as a form of distilled thought.
The act of writing forces us to organize and present the impressions and ideas within our minds into something more tangible than simply “thoughts.” Words by its very nature, being symbols human beings attach meaning to and communicate with, restrict the “fogginess” that simply thinking thoughts over may lead to.
In the process of putting thoughts into words, we uncover gaps and misty areas in our thinking processes and understanding; ideas become clarified, not only on the page but also in the mind.
And thus a wonderful cycle begins: as we write, our thoughts become more clarified and complete, which in turn serves to make our writing more meaningful, clear, and worth reading.
And it is not just in writing that this positive feedback loop takes place. Conversation, song, and other forms of communication with words also force us to distill our thoughts, pressing us to present ideas, concepts, even emotions in a tangible, complete, and clear way.
Good poetry demonstrates this in a beautiful and very real sense. Within the bounds of meter, lineation, rhythm (and in some cases rhyme) of the type of poetry one sets about to write, a clear and often emotive message is put out. Poetry is the distillation not only of thoughts and ideas, but of the soul and emotions.
This process is more or less intuitive. It is, after all, how little children learn to speak: suddenly, things and thoughts and desires can be communicated through words–not as pure thought, but as thought distilled into symbols and sounds. Distilled into words.
The approach to writing as distilled thought gives us a straightforward understanding of what it means to write. Yet thoughts and emotions can never be distilled and transmitted perfectly with words alone.
Thus the endless challenge for us writers lies in finding and using each individual word we write, through which to communicate, in the most concise and honest way, our own thoughts and our very hearts.
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