By David Joel Miller, MS, Writer.
The why changes the way you write.
Writing is an awesome skill. The ability to write allows us to save information for later use and it enables us to transmit that information to someone in a distant place. Writing also gives us access to the thoughts and expressions of people were no longer with us. Writing is such a useful human skill that the meaning of “writing” has expanded well beyond the use of paper and pen.
Writing also implies a related skill, which we generically call “reading.” Today under the category of writing we include alternative recording methods such as typing and dictating. Reading also includes listening to audio “books.” The boundary between writing words and delivering messages through video content is becoming less distinct.
Writing can play a great many roles in your day. What you write can be utilitarian, the recording of information and data. What you write can be very personal or can be designed to inform or entertain people you will never meet.
Creative people often explore a variety of mediums searching to find the best method to express whatever it is they are seeking to communicate. Both the process and the techniques they use change depending on the piece that they are writing. Here are some of the reasons a person might be writing and how that purpose would affect the process.
Utilitarian writing needs the facts.
Utilitarian writing might be anything from making out a grocery list to recording the instructions for assembling a table. If it’s written just for you, there will be a minimum of elaboration, and you may use terms that have personal meaning. Your grocery list might include the notation “lasagna fixings” if you are planning to cook dinner, or it might say “pasta isle” if you are restocking shelves in a grocery store.
Writing can be for personal exploration.
In mental health and recovery, people are encouraged to write about their thoughts and feelings, a process often described as journaling. Personal writing can be an opportunity to write about things you don’t want other people to know. Writing your thoughts and feelings can help you sort out what’s going on. If you Journal over an extended period and then go back and look at your earlier writings, you can often see how your emotional states and your plans have changed over time.
Writing to express strong feelings.
Poetry is an especially useful medium to explore intense feelings. Poets spend a lot of time in a relatively short work, searching for precisely the right word to convey a meaning. Poetry is often included in high school English classes the most people don’t consciously read poetry after high school. I’m sure there are some exceptions, but most published collections of poems reach an extremely limited audience.
The principal use for poetic techniques these days is to marry the poem to music. The great modern poets have been mainly songwriters. The more commercial use of poetry has been the writing of commercial jingles.
You are writing because you have a story to tell.
Good writing tells the story. Fiction storytelling includes short stories, novellas, the novel, and epic stories. In the short attention span digital age the trend seems to be towards the novella and shorter length novels. Short stories used to be popular in magazines. In the digital age, those short stories attempt to find new homes on the Internet. Electronic publishing and the proliferation of video materials have expanded the opportunities for telling stories in new ways.
Storytelling is not limited to fiction. Nonfiction books, particularly creative nonfiction, either tell a story or may use those stories to illustrate the points the author is trying to make. Traditional non-fiction stories include history, biography, and military genre.
Writing is a part of your creativity.
The drive to be creative underlies a lot of human effort. Some people primarily express themselves visually, and others do their art verbally. Some creative people like to try their hand variety of mediums. If you’ve done a lot of original work in one field, you may want to write a book about those creative endeavors.
You are writing because you’d like to make some money.
Most creative people hope to make some money from their efforts. In a capitalist society, the primary way we measure the value of things is by how much people are willing to pay for it. Many writers goal is to be able to make enough from the writing to be able to quit their day jobs and write full-time. Many people work day jobs, so they can make enough money to support themselves doing their writing.
There’s nothing wrong with writing what people want to read. Popular writing, the writing that sells a lot of copies of a book, must also be good writing. If you are writing with the idea of becoming rich, you will probably be disappointed. Monetary results are the result of both the writing and the marketing functions.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you need to suffer for your art. Jeff Goins has written an intriguing book titled Real Artists Don’t Starve. These days many indie writers are earning good incomes from their writing and related activities.
These are some of the reasons why you may feel the urge to write. I feel sure there are other reasons some of you are writing. One reason is not necessarily better than another. As a writer, you may be writing for multiple purposes and writing different pieces for different reasons. What is critical, I believe, is that each time you set out to write something you get clear on why you are writing this particular piece.
This piece was inspired by a question/comment from a reader. Thanks for that inspiration. If you enjoyed this piece, please leave a comment. If you have a question for me, you can ask it through the comment form or use the contact me form. Thanks for reading and I wishing you the happiest life possible.
Staying connected with David Joel Miller
Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!
Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.
Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.
Sasquatch. Wandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.