If you are writing regularly, you are a writer. If you are not writing regularly, you are another kind of creature altogether. You are a stalled-writer or a blocked-writer or an in-pain-writer.
I’m not saying this to be mean; I have a lot of sympathy for the pain of blocked creatives. I’m frequently one of them. I’m saying this because if you are a writer, then the world needs you to write.
“Are you kidding me?” you say. We have nearly 10% unemployment, large populations of women who don’t have reliable access to birth control, and a progressively more broken political system. We have 40% of our streams and rivers polluted, a chemical industry running almost completely unregulated, and suburban sprawl stealing our wild places. And Facebook is making all of us more narcissistic, while advertisting is helping us become both mindlessly greedy and cynical. So how exactly is my writing going to help any of this?
Because writing, and any art-making, is the inverse of: war-mongering, consumerism, dissatisfaction and cynicism.
Art-making helps you recover your enthusiasm and sincere delight. Now that you are open to your own fragile hopes, you will become more empathetic to other people and to creatures. Every time you create something for your own satisfaction, you give the virtual middle-finger to all the institutions that make it their business to breed dissatisfaction. Every time you create something that has never been seen before, you put the lie to the idea that we can’t figure out new ways to live in our world. Now that your personal flame is burning more resiliently, you will be more likely to challenge people speaking out of the negativity they’ve been frightened into, or the privilege they’ve taken for granted.
Art-creating is practice for creating our lives and our culture as we want them to be, not just as they’re suggested by the corporations we work for and buy from. Art-making makes you think for yourself. It makes you more tolerant of individual people but less tolerant of the oppressive institutions that people may participate in.
Your piece of art, your painting or poem or screenplay, does not magically make the world better. Honestly, in a lot of ways, it’s just an artifact. But the fact that you made it makes you better because now you feel your own power to create.You are no longer mindless. You can no longer see yourself as helpless. You no longer accept the culture’s simplistic version of yourself, and you will likewise not accept the simplistic versions of other people that are constantly shoved down your throat.
And that’s why, if you are a writer, you need to write. Also, it will make you feel better. Now go out there and write something.