“There’s a natural human tendency to lean on and repeat that which we do well. This is okay if we’re cranking out donuts or widgets. But as self-anointed creative artists, our daily joy and progress rest on our ability to jump beyond our safety. Look steadily and imaginatively at the blah in front of you. Given time and contemplation, your new level will stealthily appear. When “So what?” strikes, we ask ourselves “What now?” ~ Robert Genn
Robert Genn strikes again. In this post he talks about how to overcome the “so what?” factor that plagues so many writers, including myself.
Often I get the feeling that what I’m writing is good, but, so what? Who cares? And it’s a big deal, because if you can’t answer “so what?”, then you’re usually stuck with “why bother?”
But that’s not the point. The “so what” factor isn’t relevant to us as writers. That’s not up to us. Sure, we should be aware of it, but like one of my old heroes Frank Herbert once said, “You don’t write for success. That takes part of your attention away from the writing. If you’re really doing it, that’s all you’re doing: writing.”
And he’s right! You aren’t writing for “so what”, you’re writing because you have to. Hemingway said you just sit down at the typewriter and bleed. That’s what you do. You’re doing this for you, not anyone else. So there is your “so what”, there is your raison d’etre, your meaning of life. Do it for you, because you must, because you love it. If you approach it from a business standpoint, then yeah, “so what” matters a lot more, and that passion and enthusiasm that ought to be filling your work will be cold and lifeless. No one ever read For Whom the Bell Tolls and said, “so what?” It’s passion, as all art must be. If not for passion, then why?
Breathe and write, all else comes second.