Editor’s note: this post was originally featured on this blog in 2011. New posts on the C2C will return on January 6th, 2014.
“Ollin, I love writing. But with all that is going on in the world right now, I’m starting to ask myself: ‘What’s the point?’ Let’s face it, did writing a story save a life or stop an earthquake? I’m struggling with this. Can you help me deal with this issue so I can get back to writing today?”
This is the message I am hearing from my readers these days.
Now, if you were to go over to another blog they might say:
“Woah, my friend. This doesn’t fit into my niche. Sorry. My blog is only about how to build your business. Maybe you should go talk to a priest? Good luck, see ya.”
Which would tell you a little bit about how we’ve stuck ourselves into compartmentalizing humanity. We’ve cut up ourselves into halves and pieces. You get your financial advice at this blog, your spiritual advice over here, your fitness advice over there, but you don’t get it all at once place, and you don’t get it all at one time, and you’re often indirectly, or directly, told that none of those pieces have anything to do with each other.
So another blog might say: “I can’t address your current existential crisis because that has nothing to do with your writing. Sorry. Go somewhere else.”
But you know that this isn’t the case. Because all of today’s bad news is making you feel less and less like your writing means anything in the grand scheme of things. Which in the end makes you stop writing. And in that way your existential crisis has EVERYTHING to do with your writing.
Not long ago, I wrote a post about how writing is incredibly useful, and I noticed that my readers were asking questions that didn’t have to do with the “usefulness of writing.” My readers were actually asking me to respond to a deeper question. They were asking me not about the usefulness of their writing, but about the meaningfulness of their writing.
Now, before I go on, you need to know that there’s a big difference between the two.
For example, your shoes are useful because they protect your feet from getting cut and infected. That’s usefulness. But you can hardly say that those same shoes are meaningful. So, although I successfully proved that writing was a useful endeavor, a couple of the people reading that post on usefulness had already gone beyond “use” and had moved over to “meaning.”
They wanted writing to be more than just “useful” they wanted it to be “meaningful.”
If you’re just beginning to write, you may not see why some writers would need their writing to be meaningful. Because when you begin to write, writing for yourself and for the love of writing is enough to get you through it all. But at a certain point–it may come after your first draft, or maybe after your first published book–you’ll realize that you want your writing to be more than just useful. You want it to mean something. And just writing this book for you and you alone isn’t cutting it. It’s not enough motivation to keep you writing. And any tips or tricks that got you motivated before are just not gonna cut it anymore. The problem is now bigger than tips or tricks. The problem now encompasses an issue far bigger than one I can adequately address or answer here, but I’m still going to try.
So, if you can’t write because you feel like your writing lacks meaning, then I suggest you try on these three paradigm shifts: Continue reading