What is a writer? What is it, exactly, that they contribute to society?
Are writers simply people who can string words together to create clear and cohesive sentences? Are they primarily wordsmiths where style, brevity, or cleverness are the most important aspects of writing?
Are writers more like storytellers whose role in society is to tell stories that inform, persuade, or entertain?
As a writer, you hold a remarkable power—the power to touch hearts, inspire minds, and transport readers to new worlds. But your role goes beyond mere entertainment or the pursuit of recognition. It's about connecting with others, understanding their struggles, and providing solace through storytelling.
Brian McDonald once said, "Letting people know they are not alone in their suffering is one of the primary responsibilities of a storyteller."
In this blog post, we will explore the profound significance of your role as a writer, and how your words have the potential to nurture creativity and make a lasting impact on your readers.
The Healing Art of Storytelling
As a writer, most of us are inclined to think that it's really all about the words: how we're able to wrap them together in a poetic, flowery, and luxurious fashion, or how we're able to condense complex ideas and concepts into rich metaphors.
And while this may be an aspect of writing, it's not the entire purpose of it.
Writing is storytelling.
And in the realm of storytelling, style should never overshadow substance. Brian McDonald, author of The Golden Theme, reminds us, "Style for style's sake is the goal of the amateur artist or storyteller. This is ego-based storytelling."
Your primary responsibility as a writer is not to merely impress or entertain, but to heal. Your words should resonate with readers on a deeper level, reminding them they are not alone in their emotions and experiences.
Your role as a writer and a storyteller is to delve into the human condition to create a bond between you and your audience.
Empathy and Connection
Beyond entertainment, your role as a writer is to foster empathy and connection. The art of writing is not created to merely pass the time.
In fact, Seth Godin expresses this sentiment beautifully, stating, "Art is a personal gift that changes the recipient."
Your role as a writer is to offer this transformative gift through your words. Every story you craft (whether fiction or non-fiction) has the potential to leave an indelible mark on your readers' lives.
Brian McDonald further emphasizes this by saying, "Your job as a storyteller is not simply to entertain. Nor is it to be noticed for the way you turn a phrase."
Your words possess the power to bridge gaps and build understanding. Through vivid and authentic storytelling (whether it's the story of impoverished kids in Africa, or of a hobbit with the will and drive to save the world), you can transport readers into the lives of your characters, allowing them to explore different perspectives and emotions.
Imagine a character overcoming a personal struggle in your story, someone who embodies resilience and determination. By weaving their journey, you inspire readers facing similar challenges to find strength within themselves and embrace their own narratives of triumph.
Through your storytelling, you become an integral part of a community—a tribe of readers who find solace, inspiration, and understanding in your work. Seth Godin affirms this by saying, "The gift of art instantly creates a bond between the artist and the recipient. A priceless gift has been given, one that can never be valued monetarily or paid for or reciprocated."
As a writer, your purpose extends beyond individual recognition. It lies in building a stronger tribe, connecting people who share a common emotional journey.
So What is Your Role as a Writer?
In his book Making Comics, Scott McCloud posits that there are actually four camps for artists and creatives (as shown in the image below):
Now, while I agree and see the value of each of these camps, I'd still like to put forward the inherent and very basic role of the writer: to heal the world.
Your role as a writer is far more significant than mere words on a page. It is about nurturing creativity, fostering empathy, and making a profound impact on the lives of your readers. Remember Brian McDonald's words: "Your job is a healing art, and like all healers, you have a responsibility."
We writers are often plagued with deep and intense insecurities, and it's these insecurities that often cause us to step back and hold back.
However, once you embrace this responsibility with passion and purpose, using your gift of storytelling to let people know they are not alone, there's a certain power and drive that comes with this mindset and helps push us to create a positive change in the world.
It's a tall order, yes. But once you realize that your work could have a positive impact on the world and on society, then there's just no going back.
So remember, your words have the power to inspire, heal, and bring people together. Embrace your role as a writer, for you possess the ability to make a lasting impact.