What is writing?

In class thursday, the discussion went on to resonate with me a lot more than I had anticipated. The overlaps that exist between ‘writing’ and other art forms are evident, and big enough to make one reconsider how exactly the medium ought to be defined.

A common denominator across most sub categories of writing I would say is the goal of some sort of catharsis. In song, poetry, fiction, even in non fiction, the author is working towards a connection between the self and the reader, one that conveys strong emotions. Being able to share these emotions through writing can be comforting and satisfying for the author. But what emotion is released from the writing of a recipe? An informational pamphlet? A page of notes from class? These gallery examples offered a valuable perspective from the other side of the spectrum. Surely they too count as writing?

Among the two of these classes, the highest intention is to communicate with another, to transfer information, whether that information be emotional or informational, to another human or to oneself (in the case of notes). The obtaining of information represents a recognition, from a state of ignorance to one of knowledge, and this may come about as cathartic.

Ong too describes writing under the breadth of communication, having to be interpretable by oneself or others. What sorts of symbols count as being interpretable by others however, I think is very broad and openĀ for debate. As a student here under the minor in writing program, my aim is to use writing as an emotional vehicle, and I hope others will have no problem interpreting this!

Rachel Hutchings

Los Angeles born, Ann Arbor raised. I'm a film student at the University of Michigan and an ardent music junkie on the side. I'm sure you'll catch me at local gigs around town.

2 thoughts to “What is writing?”

  1. I absolutely agree with you that a huge part of writing is to provide an emotional outlet. I do a lot of poetry and creative writing on the side, which definitely helps with managing stress and simply making sense of various phenomenons.
    But I also love how writing captures intense emotions. Sometimes there are tiny moments in life that are just so perfect, I feel inspired to recreate it into a scene of a story as a means of preserving the emotions I experienced.
    I love the many uses of writing. No matter if it’s emotional or informative, personal or public, I think there’s always something to be learned. By exploring more modes and styles of writing, we’ll be able to find that optimal channel to express ourselves and tell the stories we wish to tell.
    I’m excited to see the writing we do this semester!

  2. Rachel, I love your idea that the common denominator between forms of writing is catharsis. I find that all types of writing – even to-do lists or calendar updates – are a form of catharsis as well. Just a few minutes ago I was updating my planner with items I need to accomplish and upcoming events, and afterward I felt a sense of relief. Writing down thoughts, ideas, and information in general is a release of some sort. Whether that be a release of repressed emotion or a release of an overload of internal information, writing serves as an outlet.

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