The “why?” of what I’m writing

Posted: 16 July, 2012 in writing
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I was about 500 words into today’s writing before I realised I was rambling. Anyone familiar with my Rules of Writing will know I have nothing against rambling. At least while I’m rambling it means I’m writing something. But sometimes I need to stop and ask, “Why am I writing this? What is it I’m trying to say here?”

Like most writers, I write because I have something to say and this is the medium I’ve chosen to express myself. But sometimes I have to dig a little deeper for the message I’m trying to share.  I start getting frustrated with my writing when the message – or the “why” of what I’m writing – is struggling to come through.

We all have something we want to say, whether it’s in a conversation with a friend, a debate, a work meeting, a school essay, even a social media site. There is often something on our minds we want to, or even need to, share and frustration comes when we leave a situation without sharing that thought. Writers are lucky in that we can work over a draft until we get our message right. But, again, we have to make sure the message is in there in the first place.

Realising what I want to say and saying it sounds so simple but it isn’t always easy.  Maybe I can’t find the right words, or I can’t lose the wrong words.  Sometimes I can get my message across in 100 words, other times it takes 1000 words to get it right.  Often I’ll get overwhelmed because I’m being sidetracked by other points and trying to fit too many messages into the same piece.  Whatever the problem, as long as I am aware of what I want my main message to be I can always get back on track.

Mary Phipher, in her book Writing to Change the World, says, “You have something to say that no one else can say.”  She calls it a “one-of-a-kind point of view on the universe” and says it is just one of the things that contributes to our desire to write. If you have this desire to share your one-of-a-kind point of view, and a point of view, you’re already halfway to the finish line. The hardest part is making sure that message makes it to the final draft.

Of course, there are days when I really don’t know what I want to say. This is when I get my journal out and try some stream-of-consciousness writing, which always unearths some random topic that fires me up.

It’s worth taking the extra time to make sure you’re clear on what you want your writing to be about. Knowing what you want to say is what will keep your writing on track and flowing nicely, and will help you maintain that focus when it comes to editing your finished piece.

And sometimes it’s just nice to have a reminder about why we write.


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