There are two kinds of sadness, and they are distinguished from each other by their objects or causes. The more usual kind is a sadness due to a particular event. The book I am reading may move me to tears, as the death of a friend can crush my heart for days on end. Our emotions are usually triggered by a stimulus--elation, anxiety, melancholy, fear. We feel such and such because . . . . But the more problematic instance is when you are sad, lonely, afraid, and silent without anything happening to you, without knowing any cause, without knowing why.
This is why I write when I am saddened without a definite reason. It is easy for me to say that I write when I feel such dark emotions so that I can, through writing, grope in the dark, reaching for something tangible to hold on to, a reason. Writing is searching for me. I rarely know what I am writing about till I write, I never know what I will find. So I write to find out, to strike the cords of the soul, tune it out to know which string is loose, even broken. This kind of writing is what people always call "cathartic" writing: you purge and purify yourself by bathing in words.
But, really, I usually finish writing without really finding anything. It's because writing is not just for cleaning yourself. It is, I feel, just a pure act. You let your mind go, your fingers work, you concentrate, you listen to yourself and welcome thoughts as they come, and then you speak. No joke, these things, it requires a profound effort each time. While writing is second nature already for some, they will still admit that words do not just flow out of their pen. Writing is work, even the plainest kind (but still with decency). And this is why I run to writing when I am in the dark and when I feel alone. It gives me something to do, it requires from me something that I can no longer give to a world which I sometimes do not understand, makes me feel important at least to myself, or at least to the moment which gave me the gift of doing something I still enjoy.
What you write, how your write, and the beauty of the words do not matter in "sad writing." What matters above all is honesty. When you are happy, thoughtful, doing a paper, or trying to impress someone--when you are writing for a reason other than writing--then you can never be really honest, never be really transparent. But writing in the dark, there you can weep and shout and complain and ask for help. Sincerity springs from the wells of sadness. No more masks, no more pretensions, no more nervous smiles, when you are in despair. Whatever for? The last thing you want to be when you are down is to appear intelligent and sound eloquent. The most gruesome sound on earth you will ever hear, they say, is a man wailing in terror and tears.
Nothing could be more naked than words.