“It’s a lovely piece of writing”, he said, somewhat wistfully. “It’s beautiful”, he said, and handed back the poem. “But what’s the point of me writing when I’ll never be able to write something as good as that?”
It’s a good question, and one I suspect most of us have faced in relation to our own writing at some time or another.
In fact sometimes the question gets so big it can stop you from writing at all.
So, how do you answer this question when it rears its ugly head? What *is* the point of you writing?
Here are some of the reasons that occurred to me.
1. Writing has a ripple effect
Your decision to write – especially when it takes a leap of courage – may motivate or inspire someone else to write too. (And I’m pretty sure you’d never put them off by saying there wasn’t a point…)
2. Your writing can only improve through practice
Okay, so you might never reach the giddy heights of a poet whose words are still read hundreds of years later or a novelist who sells millions of copies of books.
But the more you write, the more you will learn to trust in your own voice, the more you will learn about the craft of writing, the more you will write the way your heart wants to you to be writing.
3. No-one else has your perspective, experience, or voice
Yes, other people might write ‘better’ (whatever that means), but no-one else has your precise mixture of life experience, perspective, values, beliefs, or style of writing.
No-one else can write about what you have seen, heard, felt, noticed, realised, wondered at, remembered.
4. You never know the difference your words will make
I have noticed this on countless occasions: that words move us in unexpected ways.
This happens a lot online, and often in unanticipated ways (ie we are generally not moved by the ‘experts’ but those who are writing and sharing, quietly away).
If you stop yourself from starting, you’ll never make that kind of difference.
5. Writing changes you
The act of writing can make you more creative, alert, aware, reflective, imaginative. It can help you feel more like yourself.
Writing is good for your well-being (I don’t have hard evidence for this, only anecdotal reports, over and over).
6. Writing changes your relationship with what you’re writing about
I don’t know if you have noticed this but for me, most definitely, writing (and taking photos, and poem crafting) changes my relationship with the outside world.
Whether that’s the land and landscape, wildflowers, remembrance, dementia, mountains, the seasons, or a sense of home: writing has changed my relationship with those things. In a good way. Thickened, and deepened my sense of understanding and appreciation.
7. The focus on ‘the point’ is only one way of looking at the world
And a pretty limited one at that. There are so many things that are precious and beautiful to us, but have no utilitarian value.
Why not choose to ask yourself a different set of questions instead?
8. Words want to be free
I don’t entirely know how to describe this one, other than that I’ve noticed this in my own words and those of other people.
It’s almost as if, once formed, however much of a scribble, the words take on a life of their own. And then, like children, really want to get out there into the world
9. It’s not just about writing
Having the courage or the confidence to share your words, despite the fears, the doubts and the constant nagging inner demons, well that’s not just about writing.
It’s part of the human journey.
To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting ~ e e cummings
These are some of the reasons that have come to my mind this week, as I’ve sat with the question that was asked of me.
I’m sure there are many more.
What would you add to this list?
How do you answer the question for yourself, when the doubts about the ‘point’ get in the way of getting started?
I’d been thinking about this for a few days, but was prompted into action to sit down and write it by Karen Swim, who shared a similar thought on Facebook yesterday, though much more concisely! Thank you Karen for the reminder, and call to action.