Discover more from What Makes Great Writing?
Why I Write
And a non-obvious reason you might want to.
Looking back, my quest to gain infinite followers was doomed from the start.
I’m too darn emotional.
Too often, I am too human.
This is relevant because last week included the worst 7 consecutive days of my life (so far). Rhetorical devices, story structure, and the other mainstays of this publication are currently uninteresting.
So, no analysis today. Instead, it seems appropriate to dive once again into the habit which has surely stalled my business growth and will almost definitely drive many of you away because it is not a “how to” post.
Unlike many of the gurus and hustlers surrounding me, I don’t see writing as a growth hack. My viral posts are a bittersweet accident. Sweet because of where they led me. Bitter because they caused me to lose my way for a while.
When I was lost, I forgot writing is a means, not an end. Writing helps me manage the horror of living. This is its main role in my life.
At age 14, my grandfather got in a car crash and was flown from the scene in a helicopter, then rushed to a hospital bed which became his death bed in hours.
After that crisis, I wrote.
I wrote to him. I wrote about him. I wrote for him. I told him I liked his Vanderbilt sweater and the way his belly gurgled when I had my head on it. I wrote a thanks for the Easter egg hunts, and for teaching me to work. I wrote in all caps when I was mad at him for dying.
Later, I wrote my way through teenage love and heartbreak, petty high school drama, college choices, degree selection, ethical battles, roommate quarrels, career decisions, wedding vows, and other deaths.
Writing became a haven. It was the only way I could think freely, without fear of reprimand, contradiction, or (god forbid) a bad grade. Reading helps you process tragedy. Writing does too. Writing is a way to walk through grief, as opposed to around or away from it. This makes you feel much worse first, and then much better later.
Again, these are lessons I learned, forgot, and am learning once more. For a few wandering years, I believed that writing had to be “shipped” in order to count.
I no longer believe that.
Writing does not have to be traded for likes. Writing does not need to persuade someone to buy. Writing does not need to posture or pose in a Twitter bio. And no, writing does not even need to be published.
Writing has a purpose other than to be finished writing. It is a means to understanding, to insight, to mental health.
Yes, writing can be used to drive transactions. If it couldn’t, I wouldn’t have a job. But the greatest benefits of writing are not transactional.
In fact, you can’t measure them at all.
Much love as always,
-Todd B from Tennessee