I write a lot. I write to-do lists for each chore or piece of work, I write shopping lists, and plan each journey a stupid amount of time in advance. I write reviews of small indie comics and big publications, I write reviews on TV shows and Hollywood blockbusters. I write poems about random people I meet or dreams that make me smile, I write stories about killers or people who travel the world due to boredom. And I write articles about all things nerdy, occasionally those articles are to try and help people too.
But why do I write? What pushes me to pull at least 1,000 words a day out of the arse of my mind? Sometimes I have no bloody clue, but I do know it helps clear some of the mess I’ve got going on up there and I hope that by the time you’ve finished reading this, you’ll know how beneficial creating things really is. Or at the very least, have a giggle at how nuts I am.
In one form or another, I’ve always been a creative person. From a young age, I used to love drawing cartoons which developed as I got older into random short comics and other impression pieces. Just that idea of creating something was always cool to me, even if it was a copy of a flower pot or bugs bunny. How I fell into writing was a long combination of things, a lot of which I got from my dad.
When the hormones kicked in, I quickly got bored with the same old churned out rubbish that everyone else was listening to at school. It was just the same vague lyrics regurgitated to the masses to nod their head to and turn into a ringtone until the next ‘hit’ replaced it two weeks later. Now I had heard punk music before, ever since I was little the sounds of the 70s were blaring out of my dad’s car stereo as we drove through the Buckinghamshire countryside. I knew the songs through the osmosis of hearing them for years, but I’d never really sat and listened to it before. It was dad’s music for Christ’s sake! Therefore, as any teen will tell you, it automatically falls into the category of uncool. But with a hint of curiosity and more than a few nudges from the old man, I gave it a go. Twelve tracks later of the violently vomited yet expertly crafted guttural sounds of Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, that was all she wrote.
I’d already picked up the habit of writing down my things by this point, it was something else I owe to the Marlow gene pool. We’re stupidly organized planners, my dad is, I am, and I’m proud to say my younger siblings have carried on the trait. Anything from homework timetables to holidays are planned with almost military precision. It’s all about being prepared for any eventuality and not being surprised, which is how I tackled things like the revision of moving to uni. Ironically, however, words were never my ally back in the day. Lists and essays were fine, but as soon as I tried to express my thoughts in art or writing, the meaning would come out all jumbled and distorted. I was a really shy kid too, selectively speaking to a few close mates who happened to be as weird as me. Punk changed that.
Punk is pure, unadulterated self-expression, it’s about realising your differences to others and encompassing them with pride in all that you do. You embrace your individuality and refuse to conform to what others think you should be. The lyrics and sounds of the time echo that violent call to arms of a generation disenfranchised from the world they lived in. It wasn’t the same romance nicey nice songs you heard on top of the pops, they were songs about real life. Like John Rotten singing about a mentally ill girl performing a backstreet abortion, or The Clash singing about the racially fuelled riots of the time. It was the raw emotion and honesty of these songs that gave me the confidence I’d been lacking in my own words and opened up a whole new world for me.
Poe wrote dark stories and poems so why couldn’t I? Henry Rollins does spoken word performances so what can’t I? See, that’s what I’m getting at with writing or anything creative expression, at its core, it’s always about you. I’m paraphrasing Neil Gaiman here but “write the story you feel needs to be written.” It should be a purely self-indulgent exercise when done right and you’ll feel a great weight has been lifted from your mind and put onto paper. If there is something that’s spinning around in your head, then get it down in some form or another.
Maybe you’ve been through a rough patch and wondered where that piece of advice was when you needed it? Write it down and share it with people! Create something, anything! Take that frustration from a 12-hour shift and turn it into a poem others can read so they know they don’t suffer alone. Are you the one who your mates always go to for a laugh and a good story? Get up on stage and make a whole room laugh until their sides hurt. Have you lost someone you care about? Draw them how you remember them to be and if you don’t think you’re good enough, draw something that reminds you of them. Take photos of things you notice that no one else will, keep a journal of all the crap stuff that happens and the good stuff that outshines it.
Feelings like anger, sadness, and pain don’t belong inside of you, they need to get out and be expressed in the outside world. Convert it into something that exists outside of yourself, where you can take a step back and see it in front of you. Trust me, you’ll be amazed at how better you’ll feel to let it all out. Turn that toxicity into positivity that will help you and if you’re lucky, a few others too.
Now, I’m not going to get all new age and wanky on you. This is definitely not the key to happiness, you’re not going to instantly achieve enlightenment and be at peace with all the wrong in your life. It takes energy and a lot of concentration and you’ll feel knackered, but give it a try. Whatever happens, you will learn a bit about yourself.
So go forth girls and boys and create!