I’ve been asked to give a brief talk to seventh graders about the importance of writing, which has led me to question if writing really is important. Luckily, the ceremony has been postponed for a week, which gives me plenty of time to come up with an appropriate answer.
Only a small percentage of writers have ever made a living at writing (and most of those were people who wrote books on how to make a living at writing), and that percentage seems to be shrinking. More than 80% of books sell fewer than 100 copies. Maybe 50% sell only about ten copies or so. So, why write? The wonder of writing fiction is that a story born in one mind grows to full power in another mind. But what if you don’t have readers, or at least not many? And why take the time to learn the craft since some of the books that do sell are poorly written tripe?
In the end, it’s the writing that counts. The story.
So much of communication for us humans is story telling. A joke is a story. What you tell about your day is a story. Something you post about yourself online is a story. An advertisement is a story — it tells a story of what your life will be like if you buy that product.
But writing isn’t only about story. It’s about us. About life.
Writing is a super power. What we write can change people, events, the world, and even ourselves.
Writing is the primary basis upon which our work is judged—in college, in the work place and in the community.
Writing is magic. At its core, writing is the ability to transform thoughts, ideas, and emotions into to written word, into something tangible.
When we talk of writing, we often mean writing stories, writing to entertain people. This sort of writing truly is magic since the story that is born in one mind grows to full power in another mind.
Writing, whether fiction, nonfiction, blogs, or social updates is about communicating. Writing helps us with communication and thinking skills. If we write well, we communicate well. If we communicate well, we can succeed.
Writing brings worlds to life and recalls them from ages long past.
Writing makes our thoughts, our learning, our memories permanent and visible to others.
Writing can preserve thoughts, emotions and ideas long after the writer has left this earth. Sometimes, other people’s writing is all we have to learn about previous eras.
Writing helps us develop our ideas and allows us to explain those ideas to others and to ourselves. Writing expresses who we are as individuals and as a people. Writing can help us understand our lives.
Writing is good for health. It helps relieve stress, improves our mood, and increases brain function. And since writing helps us understand our life, it improves our mental health and guides us through traumatic times.
Writing is a left-brained structured/regimented activity that can marry with right-brained images/insights/artistry and create something powerful and life-changing
Writing is at the center of everything we do. Language is part of our DNA. It is part of our birthright as human beings. Whenever we write, whatever we write — a story, a diary entry, a post on the internet, an essay, we are engaging in a form of wizardry using letters and words.
A special thanks to Rami Ungar and everyone else who contributed to this list.
Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.
November 26, 2019 at 4:11 pm
Happy to help, Pat. And happy spell-casting. 😉
November 26, 2019 at 4:20 pm
Your comments fit right in with my idea of talking about writing as a super power.
November 26, 2019 at 4:23 pm
A super power, sad to say, that doesn’t get enough love. But we can change that, can’t we?
November 26, 2019 at 4:46 pm
The statistics you quoted are depressing and/or discouraging for sure. I’ve often wondered if writers who do it full time really realize just how fortunate they are to have broken from the pack the way they’ve done. It’s stats like those, though, that make me such a fan of small, independent presses (and university presses) that give new writers a shot at making a decent living from their work.
November 26, 2019 at 6:34 pm
I don’t think they do know they are lucky, especially those who have grown into an industry. Most of those writers began a long time ago before the blitz in writing, and they are doing whatever they can to hold on to their thrones, like co-authoring. In other words, There’s really very little room at the top and won’t be for many years to come.
November 27, 2019 at 9:56 am
I’m not really a fan of co-authoring at all. James Patterson has taken that too such a ludicrous degree that I have to wonder if the guy has actually written a paragraph of his own in the last ten years. I’m also not a fan of seeing a deceased author’s name in large type on books written by authors whose names appear in tiny type.
November 27, 2019 at 10:10 am
His name will never die. So whoever could have been his successor, will never be.
November 27, 2019 at 12:57 pm
November 27, 2019 at 1:42 pm
I like the idea that writing connects the left and right brains – wired for story, and short circuited without if writing gets ignored.
November 27, 2019 at 2:48 pm
Nice play on words — wired and short circuited. I wonder if I can use that some way.
December 5, 2019 at 3:10 pm
[…] Why is Writing Important? […]
December 12, 2019 at 7:13 pm
Great Post! Story telling is such a powerful enterprise! I believe people should live the story they want to tell. In my book “This Is Your Quest” I relate many tales from heroes from both ancient and modern times, teaching invaluable life lessons and showing us how they have succeeded in their own Quests. I think it is worth looking up to all the people who have applied their talents to the service of humanity as they continue to inspire us in the pursuit of our own missions in life. I also wrote an article recently titled “Why Do Writers Write?” – Feel free to check it out! https://authorjoannereed.net/why-do-writers-write/