Finding Purpose Through Writing
Follow your passion.
That advice is thrown around like beads at Mardi Gras. But catching the passion — well, that can be much trickier.
The advice is not terribly helpful. Worse, it makes people feel like they are somehow empty, meaningless beings if they don’t know what their passion is.
If the lack of ‘passion’ is keeping you from writing, then that’s something we should address.
“I lack passion”
I ask new subscribers to my Writing Practices email list to send me their writing challenges. One honest subscriber responded with this.
“I have plenty of time, plenty of ideas. However, I lack passion. There’s no energy, no sense of making a difference.”
Plenty of ideas but no passion! Let’s dig into this problem for a moment, because I suspect many of us may have felt it at some point.
Passion By Any Other Name
In the context of writing, passion might mean many things:
- A sense of purpose (my writing makes a difference)
- Sheer love of the thing that you’re doing (if I don’t write, I’ll explode)
- Excitement about the subject (this subject gets me fired up)
I think that my subscriber meant #1 — the sense of purpose. She wanted to do writing that had meaning to the world, that made a difference.
Don’t we all?
Create your own passion and purpose.
Making a difference on a global scale may be out of the realm of possibility for most of us. But making a difference in another person’s life, touching a reader, offering a moment of insight or transcendence? That’s within reach.
You’ll never discover those possibilities unless you dive into the work.
To Find Your Reason, Write
Like inspiration, a sense of purpose or passion doesn’t usually descend on us while we’re sitting on the couch. It arrives once we are involved in the work and begin to see its possibilities.
Waiting for passion to strike is a fool’s game. Passion for your writing is discovered and cultivated.
Action triggers passion. Work reveals purpose.
Find an Other-Focused Purpose
As you dive into the writing, focus on the ideal reader for your work.
Focusing on the reader keeps me going when the work is tough — and always makes the end result better.
- If you’re writing fiction, imagine a reader who would love reading what you’re writing, or feel a connection with the story.
- If you’re writing nonfiction, what problems are you trying to solve? Why is someone going to read what you offer? How can you help someone?
Find a greater good beyond yourself that you can serving with your writing. It makes your writing better while delivering much-needed motivation.
A Purpose Exercise
If you lack a sense of purpose, try this: Write every day for 30 days.
You don’t have to publish your work, or polish and refine it. Commit to writing something — a draft of a blog post, part of a book, an idea for an article — every day for 30 days.
Some days will feel terrible. Other days you may feel a spark of inspiration. You might start to accumulate ideas. You may even find yourself getting excited about some of them.
If you find something interesting at the end of the first month, commit the next 30 days to developing the idea.
It’s okay if your focus shifts and changes. In fact, that probably will happen. Keep thinking about the readers you want to reach and what they need.
You get the idea. Start writing and see if you find something that gets you fired up, gives you a sense of purpose, or makes a difference.
Perhaps you’ll start to find joy in the learning and discovery of writing. Or when you share you words with others, you may discover that you can have an impact.
You’ll never know unless you’re writing.
Want to Share Your Writing Challenge?
Send me your writing challenge using the Contact form on this site. I can’t guarantee that I can solve your challenge, but I will try to propose a workaround. And maybe you’ll inspire another blog post that helps others facing the same situation. How’s that for giving you a sense of purpose?
Originally published at annejanzer.com on March 6, 2018.