Writing Creates Reality

Between our great idea, compelling and exciting, and writing it down, something happens.

Why there? Why aren’t we prevented from having the great idea in the first place?

Because thinking is imaginary.

Writing creates reality.

The reality, of course, of our own belief. Just as we see, hear, and feel with our brain, not our eyes, ears, or fingers, we don’t experience reality outside of ourselves, we experience inside our heads.

And our heads are very very good at knowing the difference between imaginary and real. Planning a crime we’ll never commit, in order to write a story, fires very different portions of our brain than, for instance, remembering the time we actually stole something from the five and dime.

An Experiment in Shame and Reality

To experience this for yourself, let’s do a little experiment. You’ll need a pencil and paper, a place to be completely alone, and some way to quickly destroy a sheet of paper. Fire, if you can arrange it, but a good shredder or garbage disposal will do in a pinch.

You’ll also need a memory you’re ashamed of.

Notice I didn’t say embarrassed about. Being embarrassed is temporary, and usually ends up in the funny stories we tell at parties.

Shame, we hide, from ourselves, from our dearest most beloved, from anyone and everyone.

Take a few moments and dredge up the memory of that thing you did which you would still be ashamed to tell anyone.

Now, sit down in that private place, with your implement of destruction nearby, and write that memory down. A single line will do.

Easy? I’ll bet not.

There you are, in complete privacy, no one looking over your shoulder. There you are, with the means to immediately destroy what you’ve written, with no one ever to know.

And yet, while thinking the thought is painful, writing it is unbearable. Your hand may even refuse your brain’s direction.


Because thinking is imaginary.

Writing is reality.

Next: why this fear matters so much to us.

10 thoughts on “Writing Creates Reality

  1. In many ways that is why our characters come alive. At first they are make believe, dancing around in our heads, but once written down and tossed into a story they become as real as the person next to you. It’s easy to see how some of us get depressed when our book is finished. Who wants to say goodbye?

  2. Hey Joel,

    Yes I did. What I found interesting is that I became the victim of the memory that I am ashamed of. I saw their eyes and felt their disappointment. A writer’s mind is interesting, isn’t it.

  3. A lot of it might be the fear of facing your demons. Reminds me of the movie Flatliners.

  4. Absolutely. What makes that fear most powerful is when we’re unconscious of it. When we can see an enemy we can assess his strengths and consider the possibility we might win, or at least, consider how to attack. The fear we’re unaware of is an invisible snare: we get stuck, but we can’t see why.

  5. Here’s the rope I just clumb (ain’t that the past tense of climb? no? okay)

    Seth Godin’s The Icarus Deception. Brilliant book about getting over the fear of flying too high, getting over the fear of what others think when we create.

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