First, they feel the happiness of engaging with something that matters — to them.
Second, they feel the “after effect” of regular and meaningful writing, which is an energy of livingness.
Though similar to happiness, livingness is a spontaneous, whole-body expression of being joyously alive.
It’s the energy that compels birds to sing. And urges people to sing, too — or at least hum — when no one is around.
It is even, I think, the energy that inspires my cat, Betsey, to each evening place a toy in the middle of the kitchen floor (as if positioning a microphone), before launching into a very loud feline aria of yowls, howls, and sliding, meowling song fragments.
All day, she says not one audible thing. And then, each night, there’s this performance, this aria of livingness.
But writing — when deeply engaging (so it activates our ability to imagine, while gathering into one pursuit our fragmented attention) — such writing can do for writers what, say, playing outdoors with abandon does for children. It can give us livingness.
Why does writing do that?
It does that because writing is a form of play (if self-directed and done for no one but us).
And play, it turns out, is how we remember who we are: through what gives us joy.
Feeling the joy of play as a result of writing, it’s just a short, happy leap into feeling joyously alive — the energy of livingness. Oh, wait.
I think Betsey is about to sing.