By Jayne Bodell
I have no passion to write. I do not write every day like all the experts tell us fledgling writers to do. I still struggle with even calling myself a writer. So why do I write?
At our last family dinner, my son-in-law shared information about a book he had just read. The point of the book was that most successful business people know what and how they produce, but the great ones will also tell you why they do what they do.
“For the money” is usually the first answer that comes to mind when answering why. The answer goes deeper than that.
My number one reason for writing is that I like the feeling of having a finished product.
Forget the process; that’s hard work. And it’s even harder to find the motivation to do the work, much less do the work every day. When you put the finishing touches on that final piece that is ready to post on your blog, send to your client, or submit for publication – that feeling is unique to writing.
For a brief moment, everything is right with the world. That’s the best way to describe it. You’ve worked hard to put all the pieces of the word puzzle together to create a cohesive piece of prose. You’ve edited until you’re satisfied with every word, well, almost satisfied. Every writer knows that the urge to edit never goes away. Then, when you’re finally ready to release your darling, you get to feel it. A peaceful wave of – yes! I can do this.
I am nothing if not practical, which leads me to the second reason I write.
In case something happens to my full-time job, I have a backup plan. It’s as simple as that. The fantasy version is walking into my boss’s office and announcing that I quit, and I’m my own boss now.
Writing is a skill like anything else in the business world, and I want to feel confident that I can use that skill when pursuing another career. Until I make that leap to full-time writer, I want to take baby steps to build my confidence and make a little extra money along the way. Can you tell I don’t like to jump into things?
In the process of following my plan, I discovered a wonderful benefit to writing. Let’s explore my reason number three:
This creative outlet helps alleviate my depression and anxiety. I decided years ago that I wanted to manage my mild depression using outlets besides medication. When I started to write, I realized that I get the same feeling I do when I clean. By cleaning, I put things in order. It’s a piece of my world that I can control. Depression and anxiety appear when I feel out of control. Writing takes this jumble of ideas swimming around in my brain and puts them into words that make sense. The chaos is harnessed.
Writing as a remedy for depression is a double-edged sword, though. The reason I don’t write every day is because I usually don’t feel like writing. It is often a battle to park my butt in a chair and write 500 words. In my defense, I do work a full-time job, so my writing time is limited.
Shortly after realizing that writing helps my depression, I found this self-help book on my Kindle that I had downloaded over a year ago and never read. I tend to do that when the books are free. The two authors explained how creativity leads to a happier life, and then they provide the steps to take to find and cultivate that creativity. Usually, I don’t put much stock in these self-help books, but I did finish this one because I realized that I was proof of what they were saying.
The day after our family dinner, I found this quote from Tennessee Williams. “Why did I write? Because I found life unsatisfactory.”
I’m not sure I can answer as succinctly as Williams, but after my exercise in self-exploration, I’ll give it a shot.
In our careers, we’re advised to develop an elevator speech to answer the question, “What do you do?” Let’s apply the same principle only answer the question why. I’ve given three practical reasons as to why I write. But I think we’ve got to dig deeper. What is that inner drive that forces you to put words on paper? Can you put it into words? This should be a walk in the park for us writers, right?
My ‘Elevator Speech‘ for why I write, in twenty-five plus thirteen words or less:
I love puzzles. To me, words are pieces to a giant jigsaw puzzle. I start with an outline and fill in the picture, testing, discarding, testing again trying to make the word pieces fit together to create something worthy of reading. For a shorter elevator ride, “Writing is a puzzle that I love to solve.” Take that Tennessee Williams! This is poster worthy.
I’m not sure that knowing the “why” will make you become a great business person any more than having an elevator speech will ensure a job offer, but I think it will make you a better writer. Knowing the why helps you articulate your thoughts, develop your voice, and gives you confidence. Explore the reasons why you write and see if you can write, in 25 words or less, your “why” elevator speech. Then cut it down to one sentence as I did. You may discover things about yourself in the process, but more importantly, you’ll learn how to pick only the words you need to convey your meaning, and for a short time, everything will feel right with the world.
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