Why Do We Do It, Anyway?

7:00 AM


What even is the point of writing?



It's a fair question.

The world is full of books, after all. There are thousands upon thousands of published writers, both past and present, who have said everything that needs to be said. Who revolutionized a particular aspect of storytelling and touched hearts. Right now at this very moment, someone is writing a story that says the thing I want to say -- but better. Much better.

So what even is the point for me personally? Writing is hard. Time-consuming. Painful. Frustrating. It can't be worth all the effort if there are no guarantees that come with it. There's no point stabbing away at my laptop, typing words into a document, with the knowledge that this manuscript might never see the world outside my screen. Most days writing feels like standing in the middle of a crowd, trying desperately to be heard and stand out above the noise.

Most days, it feels like drowning.

Most days, I'm ready to give up.

You're probably ready to give up, like I am. Yes, you, person reading this, whoever you are. I don't know you. You're just a person who foolishly clicked on this post. But I'm assuming based off personal experience that if you're a writer, you're probably with me in experiencing the paralyzing self-doubt and the insecurities and the self-hatred and that habit of loathing everything you write and wanting to put it in a garbage can and light the entire thing on fire.

Don't do that. (please.)

"there are enough stories out there in the world already, Aimee," you say. "my voice doesn't need to be heard anymore. someone else has said it all." 

No one else is you. 

No one else is me. 

We are all a mix of personality traits and favorite foods and favorite bands and color preferences and whether or not we like math. We have all been created in different ways, and no one else has or will have the mixture of things that you have. And if you can write at all, if that's in your head and heart and running down into your fingertips, guess what? 

You have the potential to say something new. 

Every single one of us does. 

I'm not going to lie and say that I'm not messy and insecure 99.99999% of the time. just read this blog, you should know this about me by now. In fact, I'm not sure I believe what I'm writing in this post right now. It's so mcuh easier to believe that the trainwreck that is my writing as it stands isn't ever going to be anything good. (It's a second draft, when are those things ever good?) 

Our words might not be perfect. Our plots might be jumbled. We're not perfect at the moment. The thing we're writing isn't perfect. It's never going to be perfect. Your favorite book isn't perfect: writing is not perfect. We don't do it to achieve perfection, do we? 

We do it because stories matter. Every single one of them. And the story we're capable of telling, no matter what that is, is the most important thing of all. 
 :
just because i love this so much.
Stories teach us. They put us in the shoes of another time, place, people group, possibility, and they help us gain perspective. They help encourage us to think for ourselves and encounter new and different ideas rather than shying away from them.

Stories push us out of our comfort zones. They make us squirm. They change us. 

Stories tell us that we're not alone. That we're not going through struggles by ourselves, and we're not the only one. They help us find hope. 

Stories are our friends. The characters within them touch us sometimes in ways that real people can't. 

Stories impact us. They attack issues that people won't speak about out loud; they open up those conversations and make them acceptable. 

Stories are powerful. 

Somebody needs the story you can tell. 

Think about a book that's impacted you. (I wrote about this last Thursday, actually, huh.) What would have happened if the person writing that had given up and thrown it away, or given in to the insecurities and fears and not done anything with it at all? What if they had decided that writing was pointless and too much work? They didn't know that their story would touch someone in a deep way one day. They didn't even plan on it, I'm sure. They couldn't possibly see that it would touch you particularly, that it would find you in a time of life when you needed it most. 

They didn't know. We don't know either.

I have to remind myself of that every time I sit down to write and I want to just delete it all and walk away. I'm the sum of my experiences and emotions and the people I surround myself and the things I do and the way God has created me. I am the way I am for a reason. I have the thoughts I have for a reason. I believe the story ideas I have, the ones that stick, are there for a reason too. And I can't pass those on to anyone else, because they aren't equipped to write that story. They simply don't have it in them. (Just like I don't have the ability to write their stories. That's a good thing.)

Stories have power. And you don't know who's going to need yours, or when, or what you could say with it. But you do know, deep down, that thing that you need to write. You might not realize it, but it's there.

All you have to do is show up and work hard. Even when you don't want to.

That is why I keep writing.

9 comments

  1. This is super awesome, bless this post.

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  2. Okay, I want every writer to read this post, Aimee. A lot of the time I just write for myself, but when I AM writing for an audience, my insecurities come worse than ever. Your post has encouraged me to keep writing and telling the stories that mean something to me. And you know what? I needed this post, so you've already done something fabulous with your writing. (-: Also that Neil Gaiman quote... MY FEELSESSS!!!

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  3. Oh my goodness... what a beautiful post. I don't have words.

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  4. This is what I needed to read today. Thank you. <3

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  5. I love this. :) At least in my opinion, one of the greatest things a story can do is help us empathize with and understand other people, and some of the stories that have touched me the most weren't objectively the best written. Good writing is important, but I think that imperfections are sometimes what make a story work. I've read so much "literary" stuff that was structurally beautiful but emotionally blah. Honest emotion trumps flawless technique every time.

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  6. I love reading your ramblings, Aimee - this post was epic! Thank you for posting it. We writers need some encouragement like this now and then :D.

    ~ Savannah
    scattered-scribblings.blogspot.com

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  7. I honestly don't know what to say... just WoW!
    Thanks!

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  8. This is a really good post! I know that a lot of writers struggle with feeling as though their story is important, and it is so imperative to remember that each voice is needed in this world.

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  9. I just screenshot that quote. Because wow, there's so much power. I struggle with this a lot, I feel like I'm never going to be good enough and so I come so close to quitting. But I know deep down that I'll never be able to actually quit, because stories are so powerful. And we've all got one to tell.

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hey. hey. talk to me. i'm a fan of comments and flailing with you. go for it.