Last time we talked about our writing as a gift to the world, but our writing can be a gift in a more specific, focused way when we write for individuals we know and love.
When our writing is sent out to the world, it’s usually enjoyed by one reader at a time, so in a way, all of our writing is for individuals. What I mean here is you can sit down and write for someone in particular—an individual who will be the only intended recipient of a given project.
Maybe you write a long letter to a family member, or you compose a children’s story for your child or grandchildren, or you write a love poem to your significant other. You might write a note to a soldier stationed in another country, a person in prison, or a sponsored child.
One project, for one person.
This is where writing is personal. Sure, the projects we send to publishers are important, offering the potential to reach into circles we might never have connected with on our own, carrying our message far and wide.
And yet the people who have been part of our lives all along, the people who like your posts on Facebook and look for your letters in the mailbox—the person you’d send a sympathy card to? Those people treasure your words. If you write a gift of words specifically for and to them, you’re sending a powerful present.
It’s likely your gift of words will be held closer than any book you may write in the future because the book is for many, whereas the gift of words you crafted is a present for that one person alone.
Anne Lamott explains in Bird by Bird how she wrote “books that began as presents.” In her case, they were initially a project for one person and did end up being much more—they were published as books for anyone who might enjoy them. But when she initially sat down to create, she had one reader—one recipient—in mind.
One book was a present to her father and the other, to her best friend, Pammy. Both were people Anne loved; both were people who were going to die (185). Motivated by love and a sense of urgency, she wrote a present for each of them. She explains:
I got to write books about my father and my best friend, and they got to read them before they died. Can you imagine? I wrote for an audience of two whom I loved and respected, who loved and respected me. So I wrote for them as carefully and soulfully as I could—which is, needless to say, how I wish I could write all the time. (194)
We can work on our platform and stick our deadlines when we write on assignment, but when we write for someone we love and respect—when we write out of love—we are giving an inimitable gift.
Stay on track with your professional goals. And if you feel inspired, write someone a present. But whatever you do, as much as possible, write as carefully and soulfully as you can.
Isn’t that how we wish we could write all the time?
Click on the podcast player above or use subscription options below to listen to the full episode.
- What Do Writers Dream About?
- Ep 80: Your Writing as a Gift
- Your Writing Platform episode collection
- Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott (affiliate link)
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Writing is solitary work—but why not include others in aspects of the writing process?
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