Why to write

You need good reasons to write, or a hard task becomes even harder. Let me offer a few ideas about why to write. Interestingly, convincing reasons may depend on where you are in life. Young people may write for reasons different from those that motivate people senior to them. Youthful or not, your written thoughts define your character, as well as contributions to your communities.

For young people starting out, motivations to learn this craft are straightforward if you think about the subject. Key attributes to succeed on a farm, or in some other labor intensive job are physical strength, personal vigor and stamina. These qualities still help, but information age work almost always requires you to use your brain. That means you have to communicate, which means you have to write. If you cannot write well, you will wind up earning less and contributing less, no matter what line of work you pursue.

Motivations for people who plan to leave the working world before long may seem more obscure. You may not grasp the idea at first, but your ability to write – if you use it – makes you immortal. When you write down your thoughts, anyone can become acquainted with you, years after you die. The desire to create something that lasts lives within everyone. Most people who come after you will not read what you have created, but a few people will. That is enough. They become acquainted with your voice. They learn from you, and you can help them. You cannot predict or measure your influence through the long, unfolding future.

If you like to write - no matter your life stage or motivation - you care about the craft. You make the activity part of who you are. Others recognize that. They may ask you to help them with mechanics, motivation, recollections, clarification of their thinking, or with any of several problems they may experience at the moment. What do you say or do to encourage friends and colleagues, to help with obstacles, or to teach essential skills? Your reasons for writing come to your aid when others ask for help.

You might be a youth with a substantial career still ahead, preoccupied with promotions and protecting your family, or at a later stage when you have numerous memories, stories, and practical wisdom. You may learn how to write, or improve your skill during any life passage. You may practice the craft for private, or more public purposes. No matter your stage of growth, or the nature of your aims, you have sound reasons to write. However else you use your time, write as well. Find your subject matter and audience. Find your medium and forms of expression. Find yourself.


For more thoughts about writing and writers, see RTFM: Practical Advice for Smart Writers, just out in June 2016.