Please for the love of all that you hold dear and if you hold nothing dear or feel no love then find it in yourself to, whether in logic or ennui or I don’t actually care where as long as you find it, please never write anything without an internally developed purpose. (Please note that I mean write creatively. Do your research papers, kids. They are good for you.)
Be kind to yourself. Don’t write without a proper purpose. Your writing will start to feel like a chore. If you ever enjoyed writing I want to spare you the pain that comes from forcing it for too long. What once felt like a damn you simply had to help flow free begins to feel like a man-made aqueduct. The passion is curtailed and fit into narrow walls and forced into certain paths. You flow where you must flow until all you want to do is be a quiet, calm pond. But once you are a pond you find yourself trapped. You have no outlet. What used to be gushing waves of thrilling language is now a stagnating pool of worthless words. You slowly dry up. You forget how to flow. Perhaps you can overfill and start again but it is very hard to regain passion once you have squeezed it for every grade or dollar or world of praise possible.
I will bring up another point that I find even more important. Be kind to others. If people enjoyed your words before don’t make them see you fade and wither. And don’t you dare subject poor innocent fools to your dried up pages. It isn’t fair. Yes, some drafts are just bad days. Yes, writer’s block is a thing. No, other people should not have to put up with more than one terrible thing from you in a period. It isn’t fair and yes I know that is kind of the story of the world but don’t you dare add to everyone’s misery with your constantly pained attempts. Stop and hope for healing.
Don’t be Coleridge. Don’t write “Kubla Khan.” It is a terrible poem. He is a terrible human. I will never forgive him for writing such beautiful scenery and then not having the decency to BS a decent finish for it after waking up from him opium dream.
Write with a meaning in mind. Give it some purpose. Do you plan to tell me about your vacation? Your dog’s death? Your first love? What you think honor really is? Fine. But be ready to answer a few simple questions.
1. What is it about?
- If the answer is something concrete like, that picket fence, my prom, a boy and his dog surviving a zombie attack, then I think we will be okay.
- If your answer is something abstract like, hope, the tiny miracles of life, humanity’s shared despair, I think you should try again. Those are terrible answers. Abstracts need to be justified and surrounded by concretes to shore them up and make them strong enough to withstand my barrage of skepticism. Give me the concretes as your answer.
2. Why are you writing it?
- “Because I wanted to,” is a swell answer.
- “Because it is due tomorrow,” is not.
- “Because,” is acceptable.
Writing without purpose is like art without meaning. Some people might praise you for it but in the end it will not last. You might think life is pointless but it gets a lot more depressing if I have to see your writing be equivalent to a line above a dot on a blank canvas. That doesn’t make anyone really think. It doesn’t inspire. It doesn’t do anything. Write to make your Grandmother smile, to make a stranger cry, to make me regret calling your writing terrible. Purpose does not have to be deep. But it has to be.