The pen is mightier than the person

Do writers have to be intelligent and well-adjusted to be good at what they do? Are we, by default, more knowledgeable or insightful? Are we more self-aware because we can better articulate our emotions?

I don’t think so.

Some of the most self-destructive people I know are writers. Vain, isolated and insensitive. Yet they are also some of the most interesting human beings I interact with. Prone to kindness, observant poignancy and witticism. A writer’s appetite to learn is often large, as is his/her capacity to love. But intelligent, emotionally-stable or even rational?


People would never believe those things if they understood the process of writing. It isn’t always a luminously-poignant experience. We don’t learn to love ourselves through it. We aren’t any surer of our places in this world because of it. We body-surf across a raging sea of excitement, self-loathing, anger, lust, pain, passion, ecstasy and apple juice. We saunter towards the shore after a while, adjusting our hair, and pretend that everything is okay.

We just make it sound like we have it all under control.

We don’t write because we can. We do so because we have to. There isn’t a choice. How can we not?  Is it even possible? Seriously, you should tell me.



I euthanize my thoughts when I am unable to write. If I don’t have the time or the energy for it, I feel invalidated. I begin to scratch itches that don’t exist. Claustrophobia kicks in. I hum incandescent melodies. I yearn to get the monkey off my back.

Go away, evil simian. Pick the scabs on someone else’s wounds. Leave me alone. Climb a tree or something. I can learn how to play the guitar. Or take up gardening. Most of all, I can spend a few months without expressing myself through words.

But, what the hell do I know? I am just a writer.


Sticks and stones
leave me



31 thoughts on “The pen is mightier than the person

Add yours

  1. Beautiful post. One thing for sure is that writers are multi taskers, if that is the right word. They make use of all their senses. They don’t see they observe,they don’t hear like us common mortals..they listen,feel,sense,think and all this gets expresseded in ‘words’.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Okay, lots of big questions and musings here about writing. Put ten writers in a room and I doubt one could get a consensus on what the writing process is, and what role intelligence plays, or even on the definition of intelligence (and god forbid if one asked them to define creativity).

    One of the awakening moments for me was meeting a poet I really liked, only to discover he was of the most crass and narcissistic human beings I have had the displeasure to meet. In spite of the talk of muses and spiritual inspiration (of which I will throw out there myself), the Guardian quickly summed up a good chunk of it:

    “Good writing is a mixture of the calculated and the instinctual. No one writes through pure dazed inspiration; questions of craft and calculation enter in quite quickly.”

    “What lies, or ought to lie, beneath the growth of creative writing as a subject is the conviction that a good deal of the best writing derives from conscious craft, if not all of it. ”

    I think people tend to have a negative response to the notion of “craft,” in part because it is so often placed along side of art: “Arts & Crafts.” It may be a bit of snobbery when people who see themselves as “an artist” look down their nose at those who engage in “crafts.” Yet whether dance, painting, photography or poetry, skill sets and, yes, calculation on how to use the various tools — the brush, the word, the lens etc — can make someone, even the most crass and arrogant of souls, produce great works of art.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “I think people tend to have a negative response to the notion of “craft,” in part because it is so often placed along side of art” – Brilliantly put, ET! Perception brings to light, kicking and screaming, the inherent snobbery of art.

      Perhaps it is a call for a more humility? I am unsure though. We just might ‘butterfly effect’ ourselves into oblivion as far as form and treatment are concerned..

      Thank you for the insightful comments!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love to write. And I love to bird. So why don’t I love to write about birding? Christy, even when you write about NOT writing, your words are brilliant. You paint pictures with your poetry.

    PS – my favorite post with owl photos yet! Too cute for words, right?
    And thanks for the ping-back, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thought provoking post. It makes me realizes that I don’t think of myself as a writer and that’s not just because my writing has a long way to go to be considered well crafted in my mind. Rather, writing has turned into the path that guides me to be a better human being. The first step on this path has been to humbly accept my failings. I may write some decent things someday, but that will hopefully be a byproduct of simply working to be a good man.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. No one who has not experienced the killing ache in them to string words from nothing can understand the pain.
    I do, my friend. I must write like I must breathe. I understand.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “We don’t write because we can. We do so because we have to. There isn’t a choice. How can we not? Is it even possible? Seriously, you should tell me.” — Those sentiments exactly.

    Liked by 1 person

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