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Thread: What if you gave up writing?

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  1. #1
    Fluffy Wolf Lunatique's Avatar
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    Aug 2011
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    What if you gave up writing?

    Recently, I've had a couple of conversations with others that involved giving up writing and how it could actually make someone happier overall. I thought I'd ask fellow writers here to weigh in on this topic.

    In the first conversation, it was with someone who has a degree in English--a middle-age mother of two. She's someone who had been trying to write novels all her life and just very recently decided to finally give up on that aspiration, and felt much happier because of it.

    She said that she had come across someone's speech/book/article (I don't remember exactly what it was), talking about how in western culture, we have this tradition of constantly telling everyone that we all should have a dream and aspiration and passion for something that's our calling, and we all should strive to make our dreams come true and spend our lives chasing after that goal. We all should aspire to attain some kind of recognition for the work we do, to prove to ourselves that we have "arrived," and if we could earn lots of money for those accomplishments, all the better.

    But we aren't all meant be stars or award-winning somebodies. We aren't all supposed to make our dreams come true and fulfill our aspirations. We can't all have jobs that we love, or else no one will do the jobs that aren't glamorous/fun/lucrative/meaningful.

    She struggled with her writing all her life, and it just felt more and more like a weight that she carried around--this pressure to perform and "make something of herself"--to accomplish something that fulfills her aspirations. It no longer was enjoyable and became a negative force in her life that made her unhappy. After she realized she didn't need to carry around that weight anymore, she suddenly felt the stress melt away and she became a lot happier overall.

    In the second conversation, it was with my wife just today. She came into my studio and wanted to let me know that if one day I decide to give up on trying to write novels, she wouldn't think any less of me, or feel any differently about me. All she wants is for me to be happy and content, and the rest just doesn't matter. She also said, "No one else really cares what you do with your life either--not your family or friends. If they care about you, they just want you to be happy, no matter what you choose to with your life."

    She wanted me to understand that she wasn't trying to talk me out of trying to fulfill my writing aspirations--she was just trying to tell me that if one day I realize I no longer want to carry that stress to perform and write something great, and instead just wants to live a life without the pressure of having to accomplish a lifelong dream, I could still live a happy life. Watch movies/TV, read books, play video games, eat good food, visit interesting places, hanging out with friends--there's nothing wrong with living a life like that.

    In both conversations, the overall message is the same: Having a dream/aspiration that has a low success rate and requires you to constantly strive for excellence, can be a source of stress that make you unhappy, and if you let go of that, you can live a normal life without that added pressure.

    Now, we all know that different writers write for different sets of reasons. Some are just in love with telling stories. Some want fame and money. Some want to prove to the world of their worth and establish a legacy. Some use writing to exercise inner demons. Some see it as a worthy challenge. Some need to have a sense of purpose in life.

    For me, I think it's a mixture of all those reasons (except for the inner demon part--that was in my twenties).

    I explained to her that in all the jobs I've had in the past, regardless if they were creative jobs or "normal" jobs, in every single one of them, when I was working, there was always a thought nagging in the back of my mind that I would rather be working on my own stories, and all the time and energy I used to work on other people's ideas should be spent on my own ideas instead. For me, writing is the thing I'd rather be working on if I had to be working.

    So what if I won the lottery? Would I still write? Is that sense of purpose and love for storytelling so strong that even great wealth can't change that need to write? I asked her, "Why do rich and famous authors still write? It's not as if they need the money or fame--they already have it. So of course there's something else driving that desire."

    If I spent all of my time just watching movies/TV, playing video games, hanging out, eating out, go on vacations, etc, I would probably feel so lost, because there's no more sense of purpose left. I'd just consume and be entertained, and if that's all there is, I'd feel quite empty inside.

    Sure, I have other creative passions like composing music, drawing/painting, photography, and filmmaking, but in all of them, the main ingredient that drives my creative sparks is storytelling. My music all convey emotions and tell stories. My artworks do the same--they often feature characters from my stories. Filmmaking is of course, arguably the most important form of storytelling in today's culture. Photography is about the only one where storytelling isn't as important to me (though plenty of photographers emphasize storytelling).

    Actually, it was because after all these years, I realized that everything creative I do have their motivations rooted in storytelling, that I decided to just focus on writing novels, as that's the purest form of storytelling to me.

    Yes, writing can be stressful, frustrating, and depressing, but it also gives me a sense of purpose in life. Storytelling has always been a huge part of my life, and it just comes so naturally to me that I can't even stop the ideas from flowing freely all the time. I would feel like an aimless driftwood if I were to give it up.

    How about you guys? What would life be like if you gave up writing? Would you feel less stress and disappointment and be happier? Would you still write if you won the lottery? If you became a rich and famous author, would you continue to write? If you won prestigious awards as an author, would you continue to write? What does writing really mean to you?
    Last edited by Lunatique; 06-17-2014 at 12:19 PM.
    My website + Blog: www.ethereality.info

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