The English word for writing derives from the Old German verb, writan, to scratch. In a sense all writing starts from scratch, and though this origin emphasises writing as a material activity, the process described also involves thinking and imagining. Joan Didion, the American novelist and journalist, defines writing as ‘pictures in my mind’, and says her purpose is, ‘to find out what I am thinking … What is going on in these pictures in my mind’. Here then is one of our major objectives as writers — to find out who we are and why we think and feel as we do.
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