Why Write?


JAN JANRAY aka Jalal Jonroy
by JAN JANRAY aka Jalal Jonroy

Why Write?

The following are from notes the author used when coaching graduates for their final thesis films at Graduate Department of Film & Television: Tisch School of the Arts at NYU- New York University.  


Whatever you see with your imagination, whatever you feel and create with your heart is art.                                          

Why write?


“We write to heighten our awareness of life…we write to taste life twice, in the moment and in introspection…we write to be able to transcend our life, to reach beyond it… to teach ourselves to speak with others, to record the journey into the labyrinth…to expand our world when feeling strangled, constricted, lonely… When I don’t write I feel my world shrinking.  I feel I lose my fire, my color.”   Anais Nin.      


“Great God!  What have I turned into?  What rights have you people to clutter up my life, steal my time, probe my soul, suckle my thoughts, have me for you companion, confidant, and information bureau?  What you to take me for? Am I a wench in a brothel who is called upon to lift her skirt or take off her chemise at the bidding of the first man in a tailored suite who comes along? “If, in some moment of weakness, of relaxation, of need, I blow off steam – a bit of red-hot rage cooled off in words – a passionate dream, wrapped and tied in imagery:  Well, take it or leave it… but don’t bother me! I am a free man – and I need my freedom.  I need to be alone.  I need to ponder my shame and my despair in seclusion…face to face with myself, with only the music of my heart for company.  What you do want from me?  When I have something to say, I put it in print.  When I have something to give, I give it.  Your prying curiosity turns my stomach!  Your compliments humiliate me!  Your tea poisons me!  I owe nothing to anyone.  I would be responsible to God alone – if he existed!”  Papini.   




K.I.S.S:  Keep It Simple, Stupid!  That goes for everything.  The Plot, the Characters, the Themes:  How to tell a story; what words and sentences to tell it with. First give ample chance to the Design Mind – the creative right-side mind – to Wonder, to Feel the Urge, the Rage, the Volcano, the Vision, the Wonder, the Obsession… to express something special within you; from your direct experience; from your imagination; from your heart. 


To ‘Wonder’ is so crucial to the creative behavior that D.H. Lawrence elevated it to the status of a sixth sense. Cluster and associate Freely, Emotionally, using your Senses, your Feelings while blocking off the censoring, critical, literal Sign mind, the logical left-side mind-  dominant in most of us. 


“To Wonder is to live in the world of Novelty rather than Law (or habit), of Delight rather Obligation, and of the Present rather than the Future.”  Sam Keen in ‘Apology for Wonder’:  “…Wonder requires a relaxed attitude, Receptivity, an Intuitive sense, a Delight in juxtaposing and savoring particulars, Sensuousness, Openness and Participation.” Focus on a Theme, an overall Feeling, and a Guiding Vision using the creative right-side Design mind. Narrate a story naturally with: mystery, surprise, energy, excitement, humor, digression, freshness, fun, individuality, color, sounds, rhythm, smell, touch, taste… to captivate the reader as though he/she is listening right in front of you!


“And these words were, to me, as the notes of bells, the sounds of musical instruments, the noises of wind, sea, and rain, the rattle of milk-carts, the clopping of hooves on cobbles, the fingering of branches on a window pane… I cared for the shapes of sound that their names, and the words describing their actions, made in my ears; I cared for the colors the words cast on my eyes.”  Dylan Thomas.  


Be Selective: do not make boring lists of everything you see or feel. Describe emotionally. Choose one or two overriding characteristic(s) or feeling(s), using no more than one or two appropriate adjective(s.) Select from the amorphous mass of subconscious images.  


 “Art is not the truth but a lie that shows the truth.”  Picasso.


Be Evocative, even Provocative, and not explanatory: a literal, technical, sequential, ‘safe’, or logical description of “facts”, while correct to the logical left-side Sign mind, is dull - or worse, boring! - to the emotional, creative, playful mind.  Tell it like it is, so it shows truth, paying attention that speech may say one thing, the body another… For example, when in love, “moving between the twin fears of having and losing”.   


Often ‘truth’ lies like nothing else!  



Be Playful: Deal with polarity/opposites, not by choosing opposites but by riding and rocking with the swing of life. Reality is a dance, a conversation, a series of echoes. 


Strive for Metaphor: create Images to excite the five basic Senses to evoke Emotions.  However, be careful of mixed metaphors and contrary similes. 


Let that which is significant Recur.  


Be sensitive to language Sounds, Rhymes and Rhythms, and especially to Patterns, to Parallel Forms, to Symmetry: these make prose more poetic, more fascinating, and more memorable. 


Play with Opposites for Creative Tension.  “To know one thing, you must know the opposite… just as much, or else you don’t know that one thing… For the ‘opposite’ is not opposing but a necessary compliment.”  Henry Moore. 


“Peu de chose nous console parce que peu de chose nous afflige” (Nothing consoles us because nothing grieves us!) Blaise Pascal, (1623 –1662), French philosopher & mathématicien.  


If you want conflict removed, you are asking for the unnatural.  Imagine a sea without waves: it would be a sea no longer!   Note these playful, intense opposites in Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet: “Beautiful tyrant, fiend angelical, delicious pain, dove-feathered raven…” 


Be witty and use wild humor, including poking fun at yourself, if it blends with the overall Vision. Be a humble human: refer to your own vulnerabilities and contradictions, within the overall Theme. Do not show off personal style, experience, knowledge, or quotations of the famous, for their own sake.  Invoke these only to progress the narrative within its guiding Theme.  


Avoid overused images, tired words, common sayings, over-popular proverbs, hackneyed phrases, trendy or heavy, sugary sentimental words, intellectually ‘pretentious’ expressions, and clichés.  Write what stands the test of time: omit what is, or is going to sound, silly, cute, pretentious or corny phrases except on purpose, for example- to mock! 


Cut out spurious words and dead language: every Word must tell.   Two words will never serve as well as one alone! 


Finally, go and finish full Circle.  Good writing hangs together gracefully like an enchanting piece of music; a sculpture; a painting; the architecture of a striking building; a handsome man, a  tastefully dressed, striking woman.  Or indeed like any wonders of nature: a tree, a flower, a butterfly, a bunch of grapes! Then: Revise and revise, invoking the participation of the left logical Sign mind - for language, grammar, syntax, brevity - until the writing speaks with your own unique, true inner voice; your individual style. 




* Until it feels simply True.


* Until it seems Aesthetic to the Design “feeling” mind, (i.e. probably strange, incongruous to the left logical Sign Mind!) 


* Until it sounds Harmonious, Fresh and Original.


* Until it is Whole and Unalterable. 



Revise after: sleeping on it, wondering walks, radical breaks, fascinating discussions, dreams, daydreams, music, playing with children, a sumptuous meal, a lovely wine, a great smoke, an ecstatic amour, the excruciating pain of love lost, a marvelous movie, a wonderful painting, an amusing cartoon, a brilliant novel, a rousing natural sport – like sailing or horse riding - a deep grief, an unusual experience,…. Or, especially after a chat with a fool, or a madman! Let the Design mind wonder, dream, be obsessed, feel, create and see the idea.  Then use the Sign Mind to present it in Words!  



Where do words come from? From what rubbing of sounds are they born,  on what flint do they light their wicks that winds brought them into our mouths. Their past is the rustling of stifled silences, the trumpeting of molten elements, the grunting of stagnant waters.  Sometimes they grip each other with a cry, expand into lamentations, become mist on the windows of dead houses, crystallize into chips of grief on dead lips, attach themselves to a fallen star, dig their hole in nothingness, breathe out strayed souls. Words are rocky tears, the keys to the first doors, they grumble in caverns, lend their ruckus to storms, their silence to bread that’s ovened alive. 

Vénus Khoury-Ghata, (translated from French.)

Whatever you see with your imagination, whatever you feel and create with your heart is art.  


Editor: Jpeg image 2 here.


Hollywood Persian American Actress Shiva Rose accepts her “Breakthrough Performance Award” for playing Layla in David & Layla, an independent film written & directed by Jay Jonroy (next to Shiva). Jonroy received the “Spirit of the Independents” Award for the same film.  David & Layla opens in New York during Valentine on February, 15th, 2008 Movie site:  David & Layla     //www.davidandlayla.com/ 


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by azar (not verified) on

I must read this carefully again...
when I can concentrate more.
but for the moment ... thanks!


Thank you

by mgc (not verified) on

For a good collection of interestings notes.
Gives much food for thought.
Thanks for sharing them.