Out of the Machine

18 Oct

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.


12 Responses to “Out of the Machine”

  1. Carol Ann Hoel Monday / 18 October 10 at 11:52 am #

    Great post, Kayla.

  2. joyofdawn Monday / 18 October 10 at 12:47 pm #

    I was just as surprised as you were to find that people didn’t know why they do the things they are doing.
    I relized that it was one of the things that I discovered through writing. It inspired me to want to show others how to write. Because it is one way to find oneself and get “out of the machine.” I’ve learned so many amazing things trying to help others. The effort has definatly been worth it!
    Thanks for the encouragement! Awesome post.

  3. Heather Simone Monday / 18 October 10 at 1:11 pm #

    I never really thought of it in the terms of “go-through-the-motions machine,” but now that you put it that way I can definitely see a distinct old me and new me in those terms.

    Excellent point!

  4. Agatha82 Monday / 18 October 10 at 2:12 pm #

    I’ve always had this thing in me of doing something different. I had that even when I was 8 years old, even when I didn’t know what exactly it was that I wanted to do.

    The writing came from me wanting to tell my boy’s story so I’m glad he came to me 🙂

  5. Merrilee Monday / 18 October 10 at 5:07 pm #

    Well said, Kayla.

  6. darksculptures Tuesday / 19 October 10 at 8:32 am #


  7. cynthia Tuesday / 19 October 10 at 8:47 am #

    Here, here!

  8. Beth @ Life in Progress Tuesday / 19 October 10 at 12:33 pm #

    What a great post. Thank you! I AM stuck in that machine, in fact, and as I’m a writer…you’re right. I just don’t fit. So my writing is pretty much non-existent. Which I’m actually okay with (for now) because I WANT to get to the bottom of who I am/God is/what life is, and what I love before going any farther on the page and possibly forcing myself to hate writing.

    A hard place to be…but thank you for the advice and encouragement.

  9. Melissa Tuesday / 19 October 10 at 2:08 pm #


  10. Anna Dawes Tuesday / 19 October 10 at 6:27 pm #

    I think everyone gets into a pattern, and that pattern pacifies the human need to belong. And it can also be the closest thing someone has to being meaningful. Instead of going out of your mind contemplating existence, it seems easier to just serve your purpose.

    I think that writers are a rare breed. Though it may seem like the world is flooded with authors/novelists/bloggers/writers… I believe only a few of them treat words like clay. Only a few are artists. Writing can be absolutely terrifying. It can feel so directionless. Anyone who has the courage to write what they believe to be important is admirable in my eyes.

    I think, in modern life, to say you are a writer sparks the interest of others. It sounds appealing, even a bit sexy. People imagine sitting at home all day, sipping coffee and writing out long, beautiful narratives. But the reason so few people do it is because it is the opposite of that. I tell people to imagine going to their job each day, and looking up to see the walls around them have vanished. Their coworkers have fled. That their alone, and the only thing that will reassemble their world is their own courage to keep going despite the overwhelming urge to quit. That’s writing.

  11. Kerryn Angell Thursday / 21 October 10 at 2:58 pm #

    I also learnt through writing what it was I cared about. I asked the all important question WHY do I write, WHY do I have to write. I’m really passionate about open-mindedness. I’m fascinated by people, their backgrounds and different perspectives on life and everything that happens in it. I honestly believe that if everyone can just be a little more open-minded and consider a different perspective on issues, if we can all see how much we all have in common rather than focusing on our differences that the world would be a better place.

    Ahem. Didn’t realise that would turn into such a beauty pageant, world peace moment.

    If one of my stories can make just one person consider a different point of view or open their mind a little bit wider then that would be the greatest reward for me.

  12. Miss Cynic Tuesday / 21 December 10 at 10:04 am #

    Now I know why I too often amazed by people who live their life like robots or living zombies.

    But, when is a writer and a rumbling-mumbling-jumbling blogger like me, can be put in the same space?

    I don’t feel like a writer, I’m just trying to get my ideas out in the world. Nothing solid as real writers would convey their ideas into a good flowing story.

    I believe, we are not writers, we’re idea generators… the writers will put all ideas in a bucket and come out with an excellent gourmet dish.

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