So much of the writing life is a constant struggle.
You struggle to come up with words to put down on the page. You struggle to come up with new ideas. You struggle to make any money. You struggle to get anybody to believe in the work that you’re doing.
You struggle, sometimes, to believe you have any value as a writer yourself.
I’ve been writing almost every day for the last ten years, and I still feel these things all the time.
But what I try to do now more than ever before is be thankful for everything in my life that writing has brought me. Because even though I don’t yet have a novel on the shelves or have millions of adoring fans awaiting my every word, there’s simply so much to be thankful for.
Here are three of them…
1. The ability to express yourself in ways few people ever can.
I genuinely don’t understand how people get through their days, weeks, months, without at least occasionally writing their thoughts down on paper.
It doesn’t have to be published. Nobody has to ever read it.
But the millions and millions of people out there who never write a word down and just keep their thoughts completely internal for all their lives… how do they do it? How do they not go insane?
Writing is the outlet for me that allows my life to have balance, that allows me to vent my frustrations and ideas and dreams down on paper. Whether it’s thoughts about my own life, or in the lives of imagined characters.
Any kind of writing helps you express yourself, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction. It’s therapeutic. It enriches the soul.
And it saddens me that many people out there don’t feel the need or desire to do that. Every single person who ever lived has at least one great story to tell. Every person could enrapture a reader for dozens of pages, if not hundreds. But people prefer to keep it bottled up inside, or simply vent to a family member, friend, or partner.
Being a writer means you get to express yourself in a variety of ways that ultimately leads to a life well lived. And how can we not be thankful for that?
2. The ability to escape your own reality and enter the world of others.
Life can get hard at times. And writing down your thoughts on paper isn’t enough.
Sometimes you need to just get away from yourself sometimes. Get away from your circumstances, your reality. You want to escape through any means possible.
Non-writers escape their realities in a variety of ways, like reading or watching movies or scrolling mindlessly through their phones. There are all sorts of ways.
But writers get to take things one step further by completely entering the worlds of other people. By surrendering to a world of fiction that often feels just as real, if not more so, than the life you’re living right now as the writer.
There is this magical place you go to as a writer when you’re zipping along in the newest scene you’re writing, the newest chapter. It’s the Zone. It’s a place that is happy and amazing. A place that allows you to step outside yourself and stay put in the world of your imagination.
Writers get to do this as much as they want. I had it numerous times this past summer writing my latest novel. I had it this past September when I wrote a new short story.
Most people don’t get to escape their own realities in ways that are healthy and good. Writers get to do it every day if they want, how cool is that?
3. The ability to make a difference in people’s lives.
This is, of course, the big one. One of the main reasons I do what I do, especially when it comes to my non-fiction work.
I mean, let’s be honest about something. Most of us would still write even if we knew nobody was ever going to read anything we wrote, and that definitely includes me. So much of what I’ve written in my life honestly hasn’t been read by anybody.
I’ve had the writing bug since I was a kid, and nothing has ever stopped me from writing, even when it was in journals, even when it was just freewriting.
But the ability to make a difference in people’s lives? Now that’s something that means a lot to writers.
Because so often we’re writing for ourselves, and we don’t realize how powerful words can be, that there are readers out there we will never meet who will be moved and touched and changed by the stories we tell.
Whether those stories are fiction or non-fiction. Whether those stories were written for a specific audience or just for yourself.
I know there might be times when you think nothing you write matters, that nobody will ever pay any attention to your stories, that you won’t ever make a difference in a single person’s life, let alone a hundred people or a thousand people. Or even a million or more.
The truth is you will. You can. You already have.
Because you’re a writer. And always will be.