Finding Why (#6 of 6 Tools to Write)

#6 in a series of 6

It’s easy to lose track of why you wanted to be a writer in the first place. If you have vague dreams of fame or fortune, those won’t keep you going, especially when they don’t materialize quickly.

writing is the tool I use to understand what's important in my lifeWhile we’d all love to be rich and famous, I don’t think that’s why you write. It’s not why I write.

I write because I love the feel of words. I write because I have feelings which are clarified only when I find words to put them in. I have ideas which might benefit others. I have questions.

I believe writing takes the vague, wandering abstracts out of my head and makes them clear, understandable things I can look at and play with. I believe it helps me decide whether they should remain part of my life or be forgotten in the drawer.

When I remember those things, it helps me not worry whether my latest book sold as well as a previous book. It makes the number of visitors to my blog irrelevant. It makes the word count of a blog post or a book meaningless. It means that when it’s hard to write, it’s because something important is trying to come out and it’s too big to fit easily through the hole in my head.

And then I remember why it’s so important. Then I remember what matters about my writing. Then I remember that a lousy first draft is better than what remains unwritten. I remember that sometimes letting a little of that enormous thought through a crack will enlarge the opening and let the rest of it flow out so that I can look at it and touch it and taste it and smell it and think, yeah, that’s what I meant. That’s what I think. That’s what I’m worried about.

And then just like shining a light on that scary shape and discovering that it’s just a pair of jeans over a chair in the corner, it’s not so hard.

Take a walk or a drive or whatever it is you do to let your mind wander. Let the important thoughts bubble up from the place you hide them because you’re afraid of them. Spend some time thinking about what matters to you about writing.

It won’t be external things because external things don’t drive us. It will be something you feel, something you believe. When you capture that thing you believe about why writing matters, spend some time with it and when you’re sure that it’s what you believe, write it down, polish it, and make it worthy of printing and hanging on your wall — and do just that.

Next time you’re stuck, read it out loud to yourself. Remind yourself you’re not writing for money or fame or because you or anyone else expects you to finish this book. You’re writing because you believe something.

And when you believe something, you’ll do it.

4 thoughts on “Finding Why (#6 of 6 Tools to Write)

  1. Joel, You are an amazing person. Your comments are eye openers. When I write, I see a work of art before me. I see the beginning, the middle , and the ending. Once this is completed, I look at it through the eyes of an artist. Do I aspire to become a best seller? Of course! Would I like to make a fortune through my writing? You bet! Is this my main goal? Nope. I write because I love to see my thoughts, an ideas, on paper, just as an artists wants to see his concept on canvas. Good read. Blessings.

    1. When I’m tuning one of my instruments, I can tell when the strings are all getting close because the whole instrument starts to vibrate in my hands. That resonance means more to good tuning than whether the little digital tuner says my A string is 440 cycles per second.

      When folks like you vibrate in tune with what I write, it resonates both ways. Thank you, sir.

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