Writing, from personal passion to impactful purpose

As I sit down at my keyboard, I realise that every keystroke creates something meaningful. With the click of a button, I have the power to share my stories and ideas with the entire world.

But why do we write? Is it for fame, glory, or simply because we’re passionate about it? Do we write to refine our craft, or to be a voice for the voiceless, to inspire change, and right wrongs?

Perhaps it’s the fulfilment it brings, or the therapeutic effect of putting words to paper. Maybe, for some of us, it’s as simple as saying, “I just like writing, I guess.”

In truth, I’ve never really examined why I write, despite dedicating countless hours to this pastime. It’s a passion first, and a skill second, but is that reason enough to justify the time and effort spent at my desk?

The reality is that we write for a multitude of reasons, even in a world with shrinking attention spans, due to information overload. When we write, we do it either for ourselves or for others.

So, what keeps me motivated on this journey? Does writing truly make a positive impact on my life and the lives of those around me?

I’ve always admired those who can convey their thoughts in a simple, yet compelling manner, leading to their work being published. From a young age, I dreamt of seeing my own words in print. My first taste of this dream becoming a reality was when my ‘Letter to the Editor’ was published in the New Straits Times in the early 1970s. The joy I felt was indescribable, and I couldn’t resist buying three copies of the newspaper to savour my “masterpiece” repeatedly.

As Confucius wisely said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step,” and my writing journey took its initial steps with the publication of that first letter.

In the 1970s, while juggling a full-time job, I periodically contributed to newspapers. My big break came when I became a stringer with the Sports Desk of The Malay Mail. Watching sub-editors transform my drafts into compelling pieces taught me that consistent practice was as crucial as natural writing talent.

My writing endeavours took a hiatus in the late 1980s as I pursued a PhD in the United States. Though I never had a penchant for academic writing, I gained a different perspective on writing from the esteemed associate, and full professors.

The turning point came during my seven-year stint at the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) of the Prime Minister’s Department in the 90s, where I had the opportunity to work under Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. While the tasks of preparing national development policy papers only appealed to a select clientele and seemingly dull to most, they honed my writing skills significantly.

My years at the Asean Secretariat in Jakarta were transformative. Working in an international organisation comprising culturally diverse member countries, my earlier EPU experience equipped me to prepare urgent policy papers that could be readily understood by officials from the 10 Asean member countries.

Upon full retirement (when I was 70) and finding more time on my hands, I returned to my writing passion. Instead of focusing on weighty economic and social matters, I chose to reflect on life experiences, friendships, challenges, imbalances, beliefs, and values – issues that resonate with the everyday Malaysian.

Many of my articles have been compiled into my first book, ‘My Reflections of Life,’ for those who missed reading them in the media.

Countless strangers have approached me at various places to express their support after reading my articles in the papers. This encouragement fuels my writing, imbuing it with a greater purpose. I am inspired to make a difference through my words.

For aspiring writers, my advice is simple: read widely and keep writing, even if your work remains unpublished. Your belief will lead you to success. Those seemingly trapped words in your mind will eventually flow effortlessly. Practice, as they say, makes perfect.

Furthermore, understand your target audience and their interests. Write in a simple, reader-friendly manner, using easily understood words. This approach will help you connect with your readers, building a loyal following. Photography can also complement your writing, as pictures speak volumes.

Writing brings me immense joy and satisfaction. I am content in all aspects of my life and feel abundantly blessed.

This writing journey has been truly amazing and purposeful. Despite not being uniquely gifted, I’ve shared my stories and thoughts to leave a lasting legacy. Each of us has precious stories to tell, and mine is just one among many.

At 74, writing now occupies a significant portion of my life, and I relish every moment of it. It’s not just an outlet for my passion; it’s also a way to make a difference. I am profoundly grateful for the warm reception my articles have received.

Writing is not just about passion; it’s about purpose. It’s a journey that starts with a single step and can lead to a fulfilling and impactful life. So, why do we write? For countless reasons, but ultimately, to share our stories, connect with others, and to make a difference.

The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the writer and do not necessarily represent that of Twentytwo13.