Over the weekend, I was helping a friend out with one of her creative writing assignments. She was supposed to write a fable, but couldn’t come up with any ideas.
So, I asked, “What do you care about? Writing is much more powerful when you care about your topic.”
Blank stare. Crickets. ”I guess I don’t know what I care about,” she said.
Now, I know this girl, and know that there are a LOT of things she cares about. I can tell by her actions, how she listens to people, how she spends her time. What surprised me is that she’d never really thought about the reasons she does those things. She didn’t know how to articulate them.
When I told my husband later, he wasn’t surprised at all.
“I bet there are a lot of people who just go through the motions of life without ever thinking about WHY they do what they do,” he said. ”They go to school, work, church, hang out with friends, because it’s what they think they’re supposed to be doing.”
I guess that’s true. When I think back to late high school and early college, I can even remember being that way. A lot has changed over the past decade, though.
This got me thinking about writing. About how amazing it is that so many people out there are writing novels. About the fact that in order to write something effective — or, to write something at all — you have to jump out of that go-through-the-motions machine, look at it for what it is, and evaluate.
Is the go-through-the-motions machine taking you where you want to go? Do you even KNOW where you want to go? So many people are stuck in that machine and don’t even know it exists.
I don’t think many (if any) of you writer friends are stuck there, though. There’s not a neat little place in that machine for writers. We don’t fit.
At some point, you looked at life and thought, “Someone writes those (books/newspaper articles/screenplays/etc.) — why can’t I?” rather than sitting back and watching them like they just materialized out of nowhere. At some point, you thought, “This needs to be said. People need to know this. I can say it, and I should.” At some point, you denied yourself sleep or entertainment or time with friends because there is something you BELIEVE is worth your time.
Something you care deeply about.
Something only YOU can say.
Here’s to caring about things, taking initiative, and being inspired. Here’s to having dreams, working toward them, and making them a reality. And here’s to you, writer friends, for believing you have something worthwhile to say — because you absolutely do — and for being committed to sharing your words with the world.
Your words matter. And so do you.