Not-tism: On Writing

Welcome to this ‘not-tistic’ post, a post on Angry Autie that is not related to autism. You’ll see these every now and again because I am certainly allowed to have interests outside autism, right? I’m interested in a lot of things, chief among them are music, philosophy, and psychology, and if I want to write about any of them among other things, I will. If, for some reason, this confuses or upsets you, do what any reasonable person would do and feel free to not read this post. Or you could read it and create an oblique interpretation of my words and thoughts in juxtaposition with my autism. Either way, I’m unconcerned.

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As I got used to the fact that I am not working full-time anymore and started shedding my worker-drone personality, I started writing again.

As the months had passed since I started working full-time, I felt my mind begin to erode. My existence was validated more by my supervisor than by people that actually mattered to me and my sense of self was melting. It wasn’t until a few days after I got fired that I realized that writing is what helped keep my sense of self in tact. I forgot about my love for all things intellectually stimulating and I didn’t read as much as I used to.

In my case, writing about my experiences with autism and things I’ve seen on the job has helped me not only understand myself but also become a better mentor for my participants and has informed any future practice involving autistic people. It has forced me to sit down and reflect. When you work full-time, it’s difficult to find the time and energy to write and make sense of everything you experience. When you don’t put effort into making sense of your experiences, they become unintelligible blobs of mental nothingness that just whizzes right by you. You don’t process it, it washes over you. Either that or, in the case of unpleasant experiences, you don’t come to terms with it and it just silently rings in the back of your mind like an unrelenting fly.

Writing forces you to face those thoughts and be articulate. The rules of grammar and Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style are there for a good reason. Language is built on a logical framework. Thoughts are arguably nothing more than wild, amorphous, and unintelligible feelings and drives when they stay in your head but when they’re written down or even spoken, they take on a new form. They become tangible. They start to exist in the world. People start to understand you, hopefully. Have you ever told someone an idea you had, only to realize how stupid it is midway through your sentence? Have you ever had a time when you had difficulty describing a thought or a feeling to someone? Those things most likely mean you didn’t take the time to process it and understand it; either you just let it sit in your head without touching it or the thought just popped up and you felt the inexplicable need to express it. Granted, there are feelings and experiences that are very difficult to describe such as the transcendence you experience when you hear beautiful music or look at beautiful art but on the whole, writing is a way to make sense of what you think.

Writing forces you to be logical. Not only does writing make your thoughts clear, but also it gives you a chance to analyze your thoughts and see if they add up. People are capable of logic but they are not always logical. The mind is a beautiful and chaotic place where thoughts are disordered and arise erratically. They may also be affected by one or more cognitive biases. When you write, however, you have a chance to reign in your thoughts, put them in order, and then put them under scrutiny. Logic is a skill that can only be used consciously and writing is a great way to exercise your logical thinking.

Most importantly, writing could be a great source of sanity. It’s different from watching TV or playing games on your iThingy or your Naystation in that you’re actively using your mental capacities and confronting your inner demons. Everyone has inner demons and anyone who says or thinks they don’t is either lying or not in tune with themselves. TV and games, while fine every now and then, are just distractions. Ironically, since I stopped working and started writing, I started watching less TV. I worry about people who just watch TV or play games to cope with bad situations.

So dear autistics and not-tistics, write. Just write. Write about anything. Write about what’s bothering you. Write about something that interests you. Write a journal. Write something! Whatever you do, if you plan to publish it or show someone, don’t forget to edit! If you don’t edit, your writing was all for nothing. I usually go through my posts at least five times before publishing.

Another thing that I like to do to make sense of things is to go outside and talk to a tree but that’s because I can get away with that in NYC.

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One thought on “Not-tism: On Writing

  1. Wonderful! I’m in total agreement. I’ve been putting off starting a blog for years. I even have quite a few posts written. I’ve also done all the rationalizing and I still think I’d have an audience. ( although, just STARTING it is the big thing) Maybe this will give me a kick in the butt.
    You are clever and I could find no grammatical errors in your post.

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