How studying history and practicing writing led me to helping others

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by Ari Anderson |

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Looking back, I see how I’ve always had an inclination to write a lot. Even in high school 25 years ago, when a test question required me to write a paragraph or two, I would write pages. This was back when I had to use a scribe to write or type. I can only imagine what they thought when I used to dictate long answers to them. It makes me laugh about how much of an overachiever I was.

Nowadays, I use a PCEye tracker on my computer that follows my eyes, which allows me to stare at letters on a keyboard on screen so that I can type myself. And when I am interested in a topic, my brain tends to remember everything I’ve learned about it. A lot of the information I’ve retained was written down when I dictated my tests and assignments in school.

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Using history as a writing tool

One subject that has always interested me is history. As a kid, I would read history books and watch historical documentaries just for fun. If what I was reading or watching described something well enough that I could visualize it in my head, it was like an immersive experience for me.

When I was learning about history for fun, it wasn’t just dates and people. I was learning how to describe myself in an immersive way so that others could visualize in their head what I go through. Maybe that’s how I came up with the idea in a recent column to compare how hard I work to cough during Vest airway clearance treatments with how hard other people work to earn a living.

Sometimes history presents us with surprising twists. Again, most people who know me probably would never have guessed that I would write a column about how I need to stop lashing out at people in anger.

Sometimes history holds up a mirror so that we can see ourselves in others and avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. I wasn’t talking about history when I wrote about how I sit with my emotions too long when I’m worried if somebody took what I said or did the wrong way. Unfortunately, these are recent events. Yet people told me that they too hold emotions inside when they should just ask someone how they interpreted something that was said.

Hopefully, when people look at my mirror, and my mistakes, it will scare them away from holding their emotions inside. I might even scare myself off from doing this when I read my own words and look at my own reflection.

For the millionth time, if you’re worried about how people took what you said or did, just ask them right away. Don’t stress about it for weeks or months like I do. Whether you have a rare disease or not, it’s not healthy to do so.

From words to visuals

When you get efficient at using the written word to create a picture for people to experience in their head, you’ve got the skills required to create an actual picture. Like me, you may not know all the steps needed to create computer graphics. However, you know what is needed visually to create an immersive experience for people’s eyes.

About 10 years ago, I had an idea to create a series of cartoons for the web about my life. I may not know all the steps needed to create an animation, but I know what the end product should look like to get people’s attention. Plus, I know how to write a script.

Sometimes it takes a while for an idea to come to fruition, but recently I’ve been looking into many different online services that can help make animated videos. One online service I’ve been looking into is Animaker. Such online services cut out the middle steps. Much of what the user does is drag and drop animated objects and video clips to create a visual product.

I’ve made no decision yet about which of the many online animation services I’ll use, or if I’ll focus only on writing for now. But the research process is intriguing.

It’s true, words can be used for good and bad purposes. Of course, I want to use words for good to stimulate people’s minds and motivate them to improve their lives.

With everything that I write, I hope that I make the topic of SMA more interesting, relatable, and immersive. No matter who you are or whatever your age, once you find what interests you and discover a way to share it, you will soar in life!

Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.

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