Why writing is so vital

From May to August, our founder Rob turned creative writing teacher. With schools closed by coronavirus, he shared with his nieces the most useful writing secrets he knows. In return, Grace and Milly reminded him why writing matters, perhaps now more than ever.

Why writing is so vital

by Rob Self-Pierson

Work went quiet for a chunk of this year. Turns out it’s tricky to keep a business busy when you’ve lost your brand and a pandemic takes hold. 

My days retained purpose for two reasons. They are called Grace and Milly, and they’re my nieces. When schools across the UK closed for Covid, I became their creative writing teacher. And what adventures we enjoyed together!

Over the summer months, we spent three days a week writing stories and poems. I did my best to show the girls all the different ways to get people to love your writing. In teaching, I was reminded why I write, why The Brand Language Studio does what it does, and why writing is vital, inside and outside work. Here are some of those reasons:

1/ Writing creates joy. I lost count of the number of times Grace, Milly and I giggled ourselves to tears as we wrote then read our writing to each other. Even on the saddest days of lockdown, writing brought us moments of great joy.

2/ Writing connects us. Grace was 8 and Milly 6 when we started. We’re a generation apart, with very different frames of reference, yet we connected by writing down what we felt, experienced and could imagine. (Plus I watched Frozen to close the gap.)

3/ Writing helps make sense of messy thoughts. By the third month away from school and friends, my nieces’ sparkle was fading. But as they wrote, I could see them making some sense of their worries and confusion.

4/ Writing can be comforting. It will take time to know the effect of Covid-19 on young children. The scary numbers, changing rules, social distancing, masks hiding familiar faces. But this baddest of bullies didn’t exist when we wrote. In writing, the girls felt safe and in control.

5/ Writing is moving. Hearing the girls’ writing, understanding how they process what they sense, moved me many times—emotionally, and later to write my own stories and poems. 

6/ Writing encourages conversation. 'But why?' By far my nieces' favourite question. Usually they were curious about language, but sometimes it was bigger life stuff. I didn't always have the answer, but we all learned something as we discussed.

7/ Writing can become a healthy addiction. We finished Termtime Storytellers in ten weeks. As we wrapped up our tales, the girls asked what was next. They were hooked on what writing made them feel.

8/ Writing makes the sun shine on rainy days. Some days were tough. One of us would be struggling in some way. Thankfully we always had our imaginations to explore, and one another to share writing with. Darkness would invariably turn to light.

9/ Writing can make you feel proud. Last week, a couple of months after I’d finished teaching, Grace asked to borrow her mum’s phone. She wanted to read me her latest story. Her voice was quivering with pride and excitement.

10/ Writing is magic. This has become our mantra. It reminds us that the simple act of writing can conjure images from nowhere, transport us to other worlds, and make viruses disappear. Swish your pen and anything is possible. 

As work picks up, I again realise how easy it is to get tangled in the day-to-day of running a business, and to forget the why behind what we do. So I’m printing this list. It will live beside me as I write, and parts of it—that writing has the power to connect us, comfort us and move us—will remain foundational beliefs of our studio.  

Thank you, girls, for writing and sharing with such enthusiasm, creativity and happy hearts.

by Rob Self-Pierson