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Writing is a miracle, a thought in frozen form. That’s why in so many cultures throughout history it has been considered a gift of the gods.

Can you imagine a life without reading or writing? How do you think people communicated before writing was introduced? How did they communicate with neighboring villages or across extensive territories? I often ask my writing students this question to get a lively conversation going. And I get answers like this: They used drums. They used smoke signals. They sent a messenger.

The “they sent a messenger” idea of course become problematic if the message is really long and complicated. And how far can a messenger run? It becomes even more problematic if the messenger is killed. So you can see the limits of “sending a messenger.”

Usually the idea of a carrier pigeon comes up. But what is the pigeon carrying, if not a written message? So, the pigeon isn’t a great communication carrier without written language. So, you see, we had a big communication problem before people learned to write.

So imagine what it was like when human beings did learn to write — when they were able to essentially take an idea, however complicated, and literally freeze dry it and send it to someone else, across time and across space. The message could be preserved for generations even.

In fact, if our civilization were to disappear suddenly, we would best be known through the writings we left behind.

So writing was such a miraculous invention that it literally did seem like a miracle and was for that reason attributed to the gods.

Personally, I think those ancient civilizations were right to attribute it to divine origins. Nobody can explain how a thought really gets from someone’s head onto paper. It’s a complicated process and the reason why so many people struggle with writing. How do you take something abstract and make it concrete enough to put on paper?

It’s one of the great mysteries of life! And yet we do it every day, with varying degrees of success.

But let’s, just for a moment, take a breath and be thankful for this skill that most of us take for granted. Give it the place of honor in your life that it deserves.

Appreciate the gift of writing. Use it. Improve upon it. Explore your creativity with the miracle of writing. Save your own life with it!