I’ve signed up to receive emails from the writer Allison Fallon. One of her emails challenged me to answer the question: why do I want to be a writer?
Part of me does dream of being famous for my words, making money from my writing, and having books on the bestseller lists. But that dream is distracting. If that’s all I’m focusing on then I’m not focusing on the thing that matters most: writing. And so my writing suffers from the dream. I lose my motivation to write and when I do write, I write for the wrong reasons.
So when I strip away the fame, money and bestsellers, why do I want to be a writer? Why do I want to write all the time instead of do other things? Why do I want to get my writing out in public? Why do I want to write books?
Ally shared her two reasons for writing: to help her process her pain and to help others know they aren’t alone in their pain.
I like that, and sometimes that’s why I write, but it’s more than that.
With the book tribute to mothers I’m working on, it’s to help people. To give them a voice. To let them know they have one and to use it because it can help others. I hope and believe their words will mean something to someone. Yes, that’s why I write too. To model what I want to see others do. And to have my words mean something to someone. To matter.
But why? And how?
Ally is asking us to find clarity. Without it, our writing will flounder. So, what specifically do I mean when I say I want my words to matter? What matters to me? Why do I write?
The answer I always keep coming back to is this: I write to pass on the lessons I learn. I don’t know why; I just do. So I want to explore this and see if I can figure it out.
Like Ally, I write because I can’t not. Because it helps me. It helps me process, learn, heal, record, and reflect. It’s how I find myself and live.
And why do I share my writing? Honestly, I just want to do what Donald Miller does. Write about my life, my experiences, my thoughts, and pass them on. Why? Because they impacted me. I want to do what Elizabeth Gilbert and Gretchen Rubin and Allison Fallon do. Why? Because their words meant something to me.
Anything more specific?
I want to share the lessons I learn to help people in this life. To shift their perspectives in order to help them. That’s it: to share my experiences and lessons so maybe people will think differently about something and the new way of thinking will help them.
Maybe it will make them feel not so alone, or encourage them to be themselves, or inspire them to start something. But it’s all about that shift in thinking. That comes first. Those writers I love, they each gave me a shift in thinking and it impacted me. That’s what I want to do.
A shift in thinking comes from teaching. I teach through the sharing of my story and my experience. I don’t want to tell people what to do; I just want to shift thinking and let that have an impact. So I share what I learn and how it applies to me and my life.
That’s what I do. That’s what I’ve always done. It’s only when that spark of a lesson learnt, a shift in perspective, gets me writing. The epiphany, the revelation, that’s my favourite thing. If I just shared a book of moments of epiphany, that would be enough for me.
So embrace it. Don’t be ashamed of it. It always seems to come back to this. It’s my driving motivation. So go with it.
I don’t like writing about the struggle; I like writing about what comes from the struggle. The lesson, the thought, the new way of seeing.
I suppose art and journal writing doesn’t have that limitation for me. I draw and journal the struggle. I express a concept, a feeling, a thought, regardless of it’s new or a lesson. It’s just expression. But I don’t share writing purely for expression. There’s always some insight I want to share along with the expression.
I guess that’s why it’s hard for me to blog every day. Because insights don’t come every day. And I can be stuck on the same insight for a month.
I guess this is also why I write about so many topics: anything I get an epiphany about, I want to share. Any shift in thinking helps me, so I want to share it in case it helps others.
So there it is: clarity. My reason I want to be a writer. I still need to work on articulating it in one sentence rather than a rambling blog post, but I can tell I’ve found it because I’m excited.
I want to write. I want to put together this collection of epiphanies. Wow, motivation really does come when you know why you write…and you embrace it and aren’t ashamed of it.
This is the thing deep inside me, the thing that’s always been there. The thing I can’t fully explain but it’s there. I’ve found those things are the most true things. Run with it. Trust it. Be more you.
I don’t have to do things other people’s way. I don’t have to worry that people won’t get it or won’t like it. Who cares! I’m staying true to me. Thanks Ally!