I’ve heard it said that stories aren’t important, and that being an author isn’t a worthy aspiration in life. Skeptics have said that storytelling and imagining is a waste of time. Dreams and desires to imagine and create aren’t beneficial to your life, and much less to your future. Fantasy is just a stupid illusion, and in no way practical. I’m guessing I am not the only one to have heard things like this, and if you have, let this post be an encouragement to you.
These statements are not true. I know so many aspiring authors who show beautiful talent. It’s discouraging to be told that your talents and how you choose to use them are “a waste”, or “unworthy.” The idea that using storytelling and using your imagination isn’t beneficial or worth pursuing is a lie. I’m here to share with you some of the many ways that being a writer is in fact a wonderfully brilliant and worthy goal.
- Stories Make a Difference
“It’s like in the great stories Mr. Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end it’s only a passing thing, this shadow, even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines it’ll shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something even if you were too small to understand why. But I think Mr. Frodo, I do understand, I know now folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going because they were holding onto something.” – Samwise Gamgee, The Two Towers (J.R.R Tolkien)
This is a fantastic example of the benefit of fiction. Stories are inspiring. They show us that there are some things in this world that are worth holding onto, and fighting for. They use made-up characters to demonstrate to us the worth of believing in something. Stories make a difference, and so do the people who write them. In the words of another teenage writer:
“I want to be remembered as someone who was known for the good and great things they did with their life, and not forgotten for the OK things I occasionally do.” – Lela
Many young people want to make a difference, but aren’t certain how to do it. As writers, we have a clear shot at this goal, and that alone makes it worth pursuing. To any young writers who are struggling with whether or not your story will make a difference; it can. In the words of Christina: “If you write something, no matter what genre or type of story, it has the chance to impact someone. Even if you just show it to one person. They might not say it, but it could help them immensely. Writing also helps you as a person. Imagination and creativity are parts of who you are. If there’s none of that, how different are you from the next person?”
If you have a dream to write, or to tell stories and use your creativity in any capacity, don’t let go of it. It is worth something.
- Writing Teaches Valuable Lessons
It is true that storytelling can be one of our best teachers, and not just about the art and craft of writing fiction, but about people; about principles of right and wrong, and about life as a whole. Another of my author friends shares some of the ways this is true for him: “Writing fiction has opened my eyes to how complex God made people. I knew before that people are amazing creations, yet I never dwelt on it much before. … Writing fiction, especially fantasy, has been the single-most useful application of my academic studies. … Plotting out an entire timeline stretching thousands of years gives me a great appreciation for the complexity and importance of history. Same with religion.”
The truth is that the skills learned through writing and using your imagination carry over into many, many aspects of life. My very good friend, Matt, puts it this way: “Writing is more than making up a dreamland, it’s more than creating imaginary friends for yourself and your readers. It is also very applicable to every occupation that requires written communication.”
This is something I can personally attest to. The art of crafting fictitious stories has enabled me to write better essays, articles, speeches, etc. It has taught me a great about writing and communication as a whole; not just writing novels or other forms of fiction.
Another brilliant point that Matt brings up is this: “How much information is shared through books? How much do you learn while researching to write a book? The answer is ‘a lot’ in both cases.” This is so very true. I can personally say that I channeled 90% of my high school education towards my passion for writing. I used my love of history to research for historical fiction, and my knowledge of science for practical use in stories. Even if someone doesn’t enjoy a particular academic study, the chance that their view will change through the pursuit of writing is definitely possible, if not probable.
The idea that writing [fiction] is worthless and doesn’t benefit a person in general is a lie.
- It Expands Imagination and Inspires Critical Thinking
I know that, since I began taking my writing seriously, I have delved deeper into the consideration of certain subjects than ever before in my life, such as theology, the way people function and relate to each other, how to present beliefs, and general logic.
I’ve heard it said that using one’s imagination is impractical, but that is absurd. God created us with the ability to create. In the words of Lela, “We have a Great Author, so why not write?” A very good point. In fact, it has been my experience that using my imagination to create made-up people and scenarios helps me to consider reality in a different, more practical light.
“[…] Imagination isn’t bad…. We have creative minds for a reason. It’s not like God gave us the capacity to think creatively on accident. He Himself created a world and all of the characters in it. When we write stories, we reflect God.” – Anna R.
As Anna puts it, God enabled us to use our imaginations for a reason. When you channel your imaginings towards creating a believable and logical story, it allows for that thinking to carry over into the practical purposes of life. Imagining can often challenge you to think critically about things, and to consider subjects on a deeper level. In fact, it inspires it. Both writing and reading challenge us to think outside the box of mundane practicality. Pondering [read: imagining] is a very beneficial gift from God.
- Writing Reveals Truth
Every good story is based on conflict. Conflict happens when two people, or parties, or ideas differ. These differences can be between good and evil, two goods, or two evils. Telling stories demonstrates this truth in a way that many things fail to. It shows it in a way that cannot be otherwise explained.
Writing is simply a creative way to show the reasons that these things are true. One young writer puts it like this: “Stories were a big part of my childhood….I was enamored with them, even if I didn’t realize it at first. The heroes and characters did these awesome things and got to go on these awesome adventures that I never had or could have. Now, they help me understand things and confirm my belief of right and wrong. They remind me that the truth and right are actually quite simple.”
The beauty of this is expressed in the first sentence, when she states that stories were a major part of her childhood. Storytelling is a wonderful way to communicate truths, not only to adults, but to young children as well.
Jesus himself used parables—stories, to communicate truth to His followers. Why? Because there is a level of understanding that can only be grasped through the use of fiction. Storytelling has a way of putting the truth in a new light. It paints a unique picture that calls for readers to use their imagination as well as their intellect, and those two things, when coupled together, become incredibly powerful.
This entire segment can be summed up in one brilliant quote:
“Fairytales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” – G.K. Chesteron
5. Storytelling Adds Perspective
One of the most valuable things that I have obtained from writing fiction is a fresh perspective on life, on people, and on the world in general. Working with made-up characters can give incredible insights into the way that real people work; how they act, what they think, why they do what they do. My ability to understand the complexity of life has been born of my passion for creating stories. And yet at the same time, it makes me appreciate the simple, lesser seen aspects.
One young author I know says, “[… ] I think my characters have helped me learn how to empathize. By getting into their heads, I can understand other people better.” This is something I identify with 100%. Before I began writing, I had far less perspective on how to relate to people who were different than I am. I had a different, more clouded view of how to solve conflicts. Learning how people work in stories of your own creation is one of the most valuable tools to recognizing how they work in everyday life.
Writing has also given me a new perspective on how I work. Just as it has caused me to think more deeply on subjects, it has caused me to realize things about myself that I never knew before. Another quote from a fellow author on this subject is: “It helps me understand myself, because, of course, a bit of myself goes into every fiber of my story and my characters. Sometimes I don’t realize things about me until I see a character do it.” Storytelling calls for the author to delve deeply into themselves to find their stories, because that is what makes them worth telling.
“A reader [or writer] lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” – George R.R. Martin
The perspectives gained through crafting and weaving tapestries of fiction are incredibly valuable.
“It helps me to understand people better, and why they act and do the things they do. It teaches that everyone has a story – all of us have worth. It builds communication skills and helps us to think logically, and broadens vocabulary. It has the same benefits you might attribute to putting together puzzles.” – Cnemi
- It Provides Freedom
Many young people, particularly teenagers, are often unsure of how to express themselves. The question comes up time and time again, “Does my opinion really matter?” And if it does, who would want to hear it? Writing, and the creating of fictional worlds allows freedom for expression. It’s a place to put feelings, and to sort out beliefs. It’s a place where you can see your mind at work and learn to be who God created you to be. It’s a place where you are free to create.
“Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write.” – John Adams
Writing frees you to delve deep into the life of a fictional character, to experience adventure, heartache, excitement, failure, and hope through someone else’s eyes when you can’t experience them through your own. As authors, we must be daring, as this quote says. We must dare to use this freedom.
“A writer is a person who cares what words mean, what they say, how they say it. Writers know words are their way towards truth and freedom, and so they use them with care, with thought, with fear, with delight.” – Ursula K. Le Guin
God gave us the gift of words, and the freedom to allow us to use them for His glory. He created, therefore, we create. He gave us the freedom to live a full life that we would never otherwise live.
- Writing Provides Purpose and Direction
Along with the struggle for expression, comes another struggle in every person’s life; the struggle for purpose. Some would say that writing is not a noble goal, but that is not the case. In fact, it is not true in the least. Writing is one of the greatest purposes known to man. People who have a passion for storytelling should never have to be told that “it is a waste” of their life.
“Writing is an extreme privilege but it’s also a gift. It’s a gift to yourself and it’s a gift of giving a story to someone.” – Amy Tan
Writing is a very noble purpose, and people who say otherwise simple don’t understand it. They lack knowledge of the depths and inner-workings of what makes a story powerful, along with the process of creating it. They speak to what they don’t comprehend. Because writing is a gift, just like Amy Tan states in this quote, and a powerful gift at that.
The purpose of writing can be summed up in all seven of these points, and the need for people to do it can be summed up in the words of Kristin, who says, “God gives us all talents to use for His glory….Would He really invent something if it wasn’t important, and if stories were not valuable, would He have written the greatest love story of all time? …. If writing wasn’t valuable, how would we have the Bible?”
She makes an excellent point by saying that God Himself created the purpose for writing. He is the one who made it valuable by providing us with the most incredible story ever told. And if God loves creating, who can say that such a thing is not a noble purpose or goal to strive for?
God created us in His image and to desire to craft stories is natural for many of us. I want this post to encourage writers, both young and old that your passions are not in vain. They are not worthless. They are not wasteful. If this is who God created you to be, your gifts and dreams and desires are precious, and no one can tell you that they mean nothing.
“Books can truly change our lives: the lives of those who read them, the lives of those who write them.” – Lloyd Alexander