Unveiling Why I Write

writing in nature

By Emma du Preez

Last week, while walking my dogs at a local creek, I saw something that looked like a scene from the turn of the century – the previous century! A painter was sitting behind an easel under a tree on the riverbank. His golden retriever lay in the sun on the soft grass in front of him. It was a moment of pure pleasure for the artist who was taking the time to create something. He didn’t use Midjourney or any other AI to create a river scene within seconds. Instead, he packed his paints, his easel, his director’s stool, his flask of coffee. He called his dog, and he drove there. He walked to that river spot, and then, savouring the fragrance of the greenery, the humming cicadas, the birds singing, he chose that spot to set up and capture the moment in colour on a page.

Writing for pleasure

Watching the artist paint reminded me why I write. Because I love it. There doesn’t need to be a reason beyond that. It is sufficient to follow the yearnings of my heart and receive great pleasure from writing some paragraphs. There’s a certain full-body elation that comes after slotting the right word into the right place. Like any artistic endeavour, writing is a form of play; when I do it, I become ageless, a human being having fun.

Writing for meaning

Writing demands authenticity. It requires me to look deep inside myself and discover thoughts and feelings I didn’t even know I had. Writing allows me to make sense of my world, bringing a deep sense of meaning.

Writing means time for self-expression

I believe, right now more than ever, we need to give ourselves permission to sit by the river and write. Because we will be losing all of this and more if we outsource our creativity and humanity to robots like ChatGPT, Writesonic, Jasper, etc. Each time we ask AI to do a task, a little part inside us dies. Listen closely, and you’ll hear a soft sigh of disappointment as the light of an unused neural pathway flickers out.

Without exercising our creativity (yes, it requires exercise!), we risk ending up with art that embodies the least effort possible: the trite, the glib, the boring, the inauthentic, like a scene straight from Idiocracy.

My sadness is that the youngsters today who have grown up with the frenzy of social media will not remember a time like I can, a time of riverbank artists and slow pleasures. Instead, their brains are familiar with the clutter and cacophony of headlines and screaming TikTok videos. But none of that can feed the gaping void in our soul, the hunger that is gnawing in our guts, the wild urge to create. Creating not for likes and views. Not for the other. Not to impress. Not for fame. But for the self.

My challenge this year is to make more time for my writing. It’s a longing I can feel in the middle of the night, lying in bed, listening to the owls hooting in the moonlight. Surely, they call, ‘Go sit by the river and write.’

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About the Author

Emma du Preez is a lapsed journalist whose young adult children are about to leave the nest. When she is not eyeing up travel adventure brochures, she pens short pieces for blogs and is slowly gathering up the courage to write her first novel on a writing course.




writing in nature

Unveiling Why I Write

By Emma du Preez Last week, while walking my dogs at a local creek, I saw something that looked like a scene from the turn

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