Writing is a wonderful profession and can offer a beautiful lifestyle, but it often lacks one essential ingredient that can make all the difference and give both your life and your work meaning. This vital ingredient is a vision greater than yourself.
The first thing young writers must do is practice, practice, practice – until you find your own voice, your own style. It will come, and when it does, you’ll want to be able to exploit your amazing talent. The way to do it is through vision.
Vision can do wondrous things for you. It will give purpose to your writing. It will make you want to get up in the morning and get at it. Keeping vision firmly in mind can almost single-handedly destroy the dreaded writer’s block. You will be glad to be alive because your life has meaning.
Bear in mind that your vision right now can be pretty simple – and that doesn’t matter. As you grow in years and life experience and wisdom, your vision will change. That’s the nature of things. Visions grow with you.
What do I mean by having a vision? I mean something in particular to write about. A subject, a theme, a cause. Something beyond your own (probably small) world. Something to believe in. Something worthwhile – worth effort, sweat and, yes, tears.
People love people with a cause. We see they are dedicated, worth listening to. We see they are good people on the side of right. We see they are trying, with every word they type, to help others.
The world needs, it desperately needs, young writers with a vision of what can be, and the strength and determination and resilience to fight for it. Earlier generations did some amazing things, but made some terrible mistakes. We know that and we are sorry, but we need you to help make things right. You are smarter, you have energy and you have talents you don’t even know you have yet. We need all of that.
What do you see for the world? Better nutrition? Less hunger? A closer gap between rich and poor? The rights of children? Dignity at every stage of life? An end to domestic violence? Proper care for mental and physical patients? Integrity in life and the workplace? An end to corruption? Serenity for the individual and peace for the world? The list is endless.
What do you want?
Where do you start to find your vision? Start with the news. Keep up-to-date. Don’t turn away because you witness bad things. Is there something in there worth fighting for – something you can do, or at least try to do? What about honing your skills with letters to the editor?
Don’t try to change the world, that can come later. Start with something you can help change. Your writing can touch lives and ease the pain, ease the burden. Check out Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Maslow said that all humans have certain needs, some ranking higher than others, depending on circumstances. When we are starving, nothing else matters. But when our basic needs are met, other, deeper needs appear. Professor Google knows all about it. You might find your first vision there.
Cut your advocacy teeth in your own town, your own community. Then see where your writing and your heart take you. You will certainly do things and see things you can’t even imagine right now. But do what you can, where you are, with what you have.
I urge you, I plead with you to find the mission in your writing life and pursue it. But don’t hesitate, as life throws up bigger challenges, to change your mission. As Maslow found, there are always higher needs.
You won’t be able to change the wind, but you can set your own sails. Be amazing – in your own way, on your own time.