Why Writing Matters

I recently wrote a post, Practical Art, featuring my husband’s custom furniture.  I admitted to being jealous that he has something beautiful and useful to show for his creative efforts, while what I gain from my writing is mostly intangible.  The benefits of writing are personal, but I can’t discount that they do spill over into my relationships.  And in response to that post, I received positive feedback about how important it is to follow our passions and share them with the world.

I do love seeing my imagination come to life on the page, but sometimes I feel guilty about the time I spend at the keyboard.  I feel like I should be doing something that will benefit society in a more substantial way.  I’ve learned to beware of the word “should,” though.  It’s a red flag that I have a deep-seated idea hidden below the surface of my thoughts.  When I went in search of that idea, I found the belief that I ought to spend my time doing good deeds and helping those less fortunate than I am. I feel that I should be trying to save the world.

I’m pretty sure that none of us can do that. We can, however, find ways to use our talents and skills to make life better for the people in our sphere of influence. There are people with boundless enthusiasm and magnetic personalities who draw others to join in their causes. They’re community organizers, Peace Corps volunteers, tireless crusaders for the helpless. I am not one of those people, but I do try to be useful. I volunteer for Young Audiences of San Diego, a non-profit organization that brings arts experiences to children and families all over San Diego County.

When I was a teacher, I felt that my job itself was a contribution, a service to the community with a paycheck attached.  Now I want to write; I need to write. Is the artistic merit of a creative endeavor enough to justify spending so much time doing it? Or can I find a deeper feeling of purpose and usefulness as I work on my novel?

I have to believe that writing, whether my work is published or not, does matter.

  • The act of writing is inquisitive in nature. Writers ask questions and seek answers.  The pursuit of knowledge and the ability to share what we’ve discovered is worthwhile.
  • We explore how other people experience life when we examine our characters’ habits and motives. Understanding one another can only improve our interactions with both friends and strangers.

If I am fortunate enough to publish my novel, I hope it will entertain and even enlighten.  So many of the books I have read have opened my heart and informed my beliefs. Maybe one day my novel might do that for someone else.

Not long after I wrote Practical Art, I read Five Reasons Why Your Writing Matters by Ali Hale of Aliventures.  The certitude of her piece is encouraging. Several of her reasons why writing matters are similar to mine, so perhaps they are universal truths about the value of both the written word and the act of writing.

Why does writing matter to you?

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13 Comments

Filed under Art, Creativity, Writing

13 responses to “Why Writing Matters

  1. Shary, what a great post. I always have guilt about the time I put into writing. It just manifests itself differently than yours. My boyfriend had a three day weekend and we had a great time doing lots of different stuff. Still, I was barely behind my computer at all and it was killing me! Sometimes I have to tell myself that I do need some balance, that writing about life can’t substitute for living it. But for me, that’s a challenge. So often writing thoughts are nipping at the edges of my brain when I’m trying to enjoy something else. I wonder how many of us feel like that?
    I loved this post, Shary. I love reading what you have to say.

    • I think you’re right to try to focus on living in the moment, but I don’t think we can ever turn off our writing brains. We’re constantly storing up details to use later.

  2. Great post. As always, well written with sensible reflection. All of us are packaged with different stuff and if yours is to write, don’t feel guilty. I actually feel guilty that I’ve waited in putting the time in to write.

  3. Writing matters because words save lifes, be it through lessons learned, or by providing entertainment to someone who needs a break from their own reality.

  4. You are so thoughtful and contemplative. Try not to fret or feel guilt about writing and whether you’re contributing to society. Know that you are. Many of us enjoy your work. In the end, it’s about following your passion and you are following yours. True?

  5. I am reminded of a conversation I had with my daughter when she asked what exactly is your “job” Mom? I have been noticing that I am challenged to define what all I do, and it made me feel that I somehow needed to justify my “work”. It occurred to me that my life, my path and purpose is all about giving back, but not always in easily definable traditional ways. I feel that my writing is one aspect of my life which falls into this. Opening up your heart and being authentic and sharing is giving back. You do this beautifully! I so enjoy getting to know you better and better.

  6. I don’t think you should ever feel guilty about writing. But beyond that, I was looking at the Web site for Young Audiences the other day and I clicked on a feature entitled “Volunteer of the Year” and it was YOU! I was so excited and nearly shouted, “Hey, I know her!” That organization looks fabulous. What a great way to do something that does matter and to give back, especially to children. Good for you!

    • Young Audiences is a wonderful organization. They do so much to bring art and artists into the schools. I help in the office and I often get to read feedback from the kids. These programs help them learn, teach them to work together, and give them so much confidence. So important!

  7. So cool! Our modest friend didn’t mention this accolade. Somehow that doesn’t surprise me.