Have You Got Something to Say?

Well, fellow writers, have you?

No?

Then why on earth are you writing?

Now don’t go quitting on me – I don’t want to be responsible for crowds of ex-writers (although – less competition…); no, that’s not my point. My point is, you should have something to say. Chances are, you do, you just might not know it.

So, why should you? Why does writing have to ‘say’ something? Why can’t it just be for entertainment?

It can’t because that’s impossible. Unless you are some kind of machine programmed to separate your opinions and feelings from the process of writing, you won’t be able to avoid saying something. Everyone has opinions and feelings about something and they will leak into your writing, whether you want it to or not. You don’t have to intend to write a political or social commentary, you don’t have to intend to challenge views, you don’t even have to intend to offer an opinion: you will end up saying something.

Whether or not you decide to push this, intentionally, is up to you. I believe that writing with a deliberate message is more engaging, memorable and provocative but that’s my opinion. That message doesn’t have to be about some giant concept like ‘the corrosion of civil liberties for national security’ it can be something more local and directly familiar, like the relationship between parent and child – you’ll have an opinion on what that relationship should be like or what they tend to be like and the problems with this.

In my experience, I’ve found that identifying my message helps me improve a piece I’m stuck on. If I’m working on something and I’m dissatisfied with it because it’s ‘just OK’ i.e. not bad but not great – just mediocre and maybe a little bland – I work out what I want to ‘say’ through it and how to better get that message across. If you have a strong, thought-provoking message, especially one that is involved in people’s everyday lives, you’ll end up with something engaging, memorable and provocative.

You will have something to say and you will be saying it, even if you don’t want to, so you might as well embrace it.

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