Friday, May 22, 2015

Why Writing is Selfish—and Why That's a Good Thing

The Semi-Great One will be at ConQuest in Kansas City, MO, on Saturday, May 23, and Sunday, May 24, with copies of The Power Club. Come on down and say hello!
Every time someone says they have never liked to write, I wish I could wave a magic wand and make them start liking it. 
But I can't.
What I can do is encourage each person to find something they likeanything at alland build on that. 
As a writer, I've come to enjoy several aspects of writing, including: 
  • the physical sensation of typing 
  • being able to share my thoughts (without interruption!) 
  • learning more about myself and my ideas through writing them down 
  • watching a piece of my writing evolve through revision
  • the payoff of publishing a book I've worked so hard to nurture and shape

If some of this sounds selfish, it is! There's no point in undertaking a serious effort such as a career, vocation, or learning a new skill unless you derive some personal benefit from it. 
But you can also expand on that personal benefit and reach out to help others (which is personally rewarding in and of itself). 
For some people, it works for them to see writing as a step in a processyou need to write in order to get a job, graduate from college, etc. This thinking has never worked for me. 
It takes too long to think of doing all that hard work for some distant goal that may or may not ever come to fruition. (You may die before you graduate, the economy may tank before you get that job, and so forth.) 
I'm selfish. I need instant gratification. Writing provides that instant gratification while, at the same time, serving as a step to larger goals. 
So I get to hit two targets with one arrow, but I focus only on the one target.
Find something you like, whatever it is, and embrace it. Build on it. 
Also, don't think you are restricted to writing in a particular way. Explore fiction, screenplays, poetry, and other genres until you find something that clicks. 
Most important: Don't expect perfection from yourself. Have fun and play around with your writing. Write a crappy first draft, just because you can. Write your entire essay in reverse, just for the heck of it. Make up your own language, just because.
If you find something you like about writing, you will probably find the other aspects you struggle with falling into place.
It won't happen over night, but you'll enjoy the ride! And that's what writing basically is: a journey toward self-discovery and connecting with others.