One obstacle a lot of writers face is simply that writing is not always considered important. Particularly if you are not making much money from it, writing can be often regulated to the label of ‘hobby’. People fail to see the true importance of cultivating and promoting creative writing and how writers can make a huge difference in people’s lives.
1. Everything you learnt was taught from stories or books.
Think of when you were learning to talk, people told you with words what everything was. Later when you started to read you were told stories from books, stories that taught you how to speak, how to read and the meaning of many many things. Someone wrote every one of those books. They made have been paid very little or paid a lot, depending on their contracts with their agent and publisher. Or perhaps you learnt knowledge from watching videos. Someone wrote the scripts for those too. All that you learnt about the world was taught to you with words and language. All of your concepts of the world, yourself and everything in the world are connected to the words you learnt as a child, words which someone, at some time invented.
2. Fairytales taught us morals.
Snow White, Cinderella, Goldilocks, Beauty and the Beast, Rapunzel, Three Billy Goats Gruff, all of these were written although some may have been part of the oral storytelling tradition first. Each of these stories taught us something as a child. What you learnt may differ from what I learnt. Snow White teaches about kindness, jealousy and cruelty, Cinderella about poverty, Goldilocks about not trespassing, Beauty and the Beast about love that is not based upon appearance alone and redemption, Rapunzel about isolation, Three Billy Goats Gruff about not thinking `the grass is always greener’. Many people may find fault with the stereotypical nature of these tales but these morals might still have got through to people anyway. Think of a world where you had never been told or learnt any stories growing up. Those stories are a part of Western Culture. Other cultures have similarly rich traditional stories. Arabian Nights was one of my favourites as was the Japanese tale ‘The Envious Neighbour’.
3. Books, Media and Humanity.
Sometimes books and media can help us when we are struggling with difficult situations in our life. They can inspire us, cheer us up, relate to our problems, offer solutions (though they may not be right for you personally) and help us to keep hope in truly difficult times. The written word in this day and age can seem irrelevant to many. Online videos are one of the most popular forms of entertainment of all but even they sometimes have scripts and words. Even that cat video has text to identify the video’s content and creator and to give you a title and description. Someone wrote that too. Sometimes a single book can resonate with someone and keep inspiring that person.
Think of a little girl who wants to be a pilot but people keep saying that she can’t be because she’s a girl or a boy who wants to be a hairdresser but is told it’s not a man’s role. They might see or read something that inspires them to continue anyway. That little girl might read adventure novels and imagine herself as pilot in them and it might just push her enough to pursue that dream. That little girl might turn into one of the most important pilots of all time. You don’t know the impact that novel could have had on her. To some people it’s just a book. To her it’s a really big deal.
The point is that books have influenced us for centuries. Bram Stoker wasn’t the first person to write vampire novels but his is the one that has endured in our culture the most. Without him there wouldn’t be a Dracula and all the subsequent vampire novels that have followed. Sure not everyone is Bram Stoker but that doesn’t mean they won’t inspire the next Bram Stoker.
4. Everyday writing. Writing is Everywhere!
See that sign you read that told you the name of the shop? Someone wrote that. And that web page? And that app you use on your phone? It was written by a coder using coding languages. What about the bus timetable? The letter you just got (though you may not be happy about it)? Your emails? Your TV guide? Your magazines (if like me you still actually read any)? Your newspaper? The puzzles in your newspaper? I could go on forever but you get the point. Every piece of text, every street sign, every single piece of written information you read, someone wrote it for you to read.
Maybe the fact that writing is everywhere is why writers are perhaps one of the most underrated and underpaid roles in our society. Trying to make money as a freelancer I’ve found a host of jobs advertised that are basically sub-par wages. Some jobs calculated would actually $1 an hour, which for me in exchange rate is about 77p an hour and that’s before Upwork takes is 20% sliding scale cut. As someone who is not an officially established writer, I have taken low paying work but never that low paying. When you consider that the UK minimum wage is £7.20 this shows you just how low this price is. To some countries this sounds high, but when you consider that the cost of living in the UK is very high and that we are one of the most taxed countries in the world (I can’t give you specific evidence here but sites vary on where our ranking is but we are always listed as one of the worst). People have been calling for this to be increased for a long time as many UK families, even with 1 or 2 parents working live constantly on the poverty line.
I don’t usually like to talk too much on this blog about these sorts of issues (I leave that for my poems!) but I feel that this time I needed to add a bit of perspective on just how appallingly unrealistic these rates are. Would you be able to hire a painter and decorator or an electrician on these rates? I very much doubt it but writers…? Sure you can ask for 1000, 800 word articles in a week for $20.
Overall, the point is that writers have a much larger impact on society than many people understand. Because we have things written for us all the time, we forget that someone is paid to do that and that, that person is probably earning very little for it. The next time someone says that your work as a writer isn’t important remind them that someone wrote that book they are reading, that game they are playing, those books that taught them how to read and write and ask them again if they think it isn’t important.
As for me, maybe no one ever reads my writing, maybe no one is listening. But I still believe it’s important. Maybe I help to inspire just one person out there. I hope so.
So keep writing! Keep believing in what you do! It is important!