Wednesday, June 23, 2021

4 Questions to Help You Determine Whether Your Writing Matters

By Colleen M. Story

Part of The Writer’s Life Series

JH: You’ve probably wondered from time to time whether your writing matters. Colleen Story offers four questions to help you discover the answer.

Colleen M. Story inspires writers to overcome modern-day challenges and find creative fulfillment in their work. In her new release, Your Writing Matters, she helps writers determine whether writing is part of their life’s purpose. Her other books for writers have been recognized in the Reader’s Favorite Book Awards and Reader Views Literary Awards, and her last novel, Loreena’s Gift, was a Foreword Reviews' INDIES Book of the Year Awards winner.

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Take it away Colleen…
You’ve undoubtedly had times in your life when you wondered whether your writing matters.

Maybe you’re going through one of those times right now.

If so, I want to encourage you to do one thing: keep writing. It’s the only way you’re ever going to find out if your writing matters or not. And while you’re at it, ask yourself the following four questions.

1. Outside of money and recognition, what benefits do you get out of writing?

Most writers, if they’re being honest, will tell you that they hope their books make it onto the bestseller’s lists and that they gain a large number of raving fans. This is the dream we all want to come true, and when our efforts don’t create the results we hoped for, we can get discouraged.

That’s because in our culture today, we tend to equate success with money and fame. We forget that a successful life involves a lot more than that. To be truly successful, we need to feel fulfilled and like our life has meaning.

Examine what benefits you enjoy from writing. How does a good day of writing make you feel? Look back on the time you’ve spent writing and ask yourself how it’s changed you, or what opportunities it has brought your way. Consider if you have grown as a person as a result of your writing, or if it has introduced you to new people that have helped you in some way.

List each of the ways writing has improved your life and then review your list. It’s important to bring these benefits into your conscious mind where you can become more aware of them. This helps you to gain a broader point of view of how writing fits into your life, and why it matters to you, personally. It also helps you to be more resilient while you’re struggling to build your author platform and increase your sales.

(Here’s more with WINNING WAY: Establishing Professional Writing Goals Worth Pursuing)

2. Does your writing matter to anyone other than you?

Think about the people who support your writing and your writing dreams. If you’ve had even one person express their appreciation for your work, you’ve made a meaningful connection simply because you followed your creative muse. That’s a pretty amazing thing and one we tend to take for granted.

If you have even a small tribe of readers who enjoy your work—stories, novels, blog posts, poems, or other types of writing—your work matters to those people. The fact that it's a small number should be more encouraging to you than discouraging. You can always build on a small audience, and you can take their faith in you as inspiration to keep going.

As writers, we too often tend to compare ourselves to the heavy hitters like Stephen King and Margaret Atwood, assuming that if we haven't reached a certain level of success after a short time, perhaps we're not meant to be writers. But the significance of our work shouldn't be reduced to how many readers we have. Impacting even a small number with your writing is magical, and not something you should dismiss.

Ask yourself how you feel when you get positive feedback from a reader. If it fulfills you unlike anything else, then surely your writing matters enough to continue?

(Here’s more with If You Want to Succeed, Define What Success Means to You)

3. Have you turned to writing in troubled times?

Many writers feel like the pen and paper (or computer and keyboard) are their friends. These are the tools we turn to when life gets hard. When we lose loved ones, suffer difficult illnesses, endure financial hardships, or try to recover from trauma, it’s often the writing that helps us through.

Corporate executive Jo Ann Simon began writing after she lost her husband to ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis): “Afterwards, I decided to start writing about our beautiful life, as well as the rough and tough times, so that I would never forget. I was afraid that I would lose the details in time. Writing was the best medicine. It helped me immensely. It gave me a chance to realize what actually happened, instead of my denial of reality.”

It makes sense that we would do this, for one of writing’s most studied benefits is its ability to heal. Psychologists have used logs, questionnaires, journals, and other forms of writing to help people heal from stresses and traumas for decades.

Writes Joyce Hocker, Ph.D., in Psychology Today, “Across many experiments, people experience a positive effect from employing expressive writing to cope with difficult life experiences. Even though a traumatic or grievous experience comes crashing into one’s life unbidden, through writing, one can shape and explore the difficulty. Writing takes time. Taking time to write of one’s own life experience provides a way to respect, hone and understand the trauma or loss. We dignify our lives by taking seriously, in writing, the unwanted experience. We can make meaning of tragedy.”

There are other ways to find healing, but writing is one of the easiest, most economical, and most effective. Those of us who turn to it easily are fortunate to have this tool at our fingertips. Certainly, this sort of writing matters when it comes to living our best lives.

(Here’s more with Cathartic Writing & Cathartic Reading—An Intersection)

4. Have you committed a significant amount of time to your writing dreams?

How many days have you sat alone working on your story? How many years have you spent improving your writing skills? How many conferences and workshops have you attended? How much time have you put into building an author platform?

I invite you to sit down one evening and try to add up all the hours, days, months, and years you have spent on this writing dream of yours. Once you have some estimated figures, ask yourself one question: Why?

Why have you spent all this time and effort on this?

There has to be a pretty important reason. You felt compelled to share your stories or you were called to write. You felt drawn to the page or something inside you insisted that you explore the big questions on the page.

Whatever your reasons, they don’t really matter except to help clarify the situation to you. Something is working within you to motivate and encourage you to keep writing, no matter what outside rewards you may or may not be receiving.

You have to honor that something because it’s likely coming from a place deep within you that is important to your life’s evolution.

Sure, your writing may benefit other people, but in the end, the largest benefit it’s likely to have is on you. If you let it, your writing will transform you as a person into an even better version of yourself.

What else in life can do that? Surely, that matters?

Discover whether you have a writer’s DNA in Colleen’s new book, Your Writing Matters. Get your free chapter here!

*Hocker, Joyce. "Writing for Healing." Psychology Today. Last modified March 17, 2018.

About Your Writing Matters

You could spend years wondering whether you’re meant to be a writer—or you could read this book.

You write day after day. You dream of bestseller’s lists and royalty checks. But despite your best marketing efforts, those dreams remain out of reach.

You start to wonder if you’re wasting your time. Does your writing even matter?

Yes, it’s tough out there, and you have a right to feel the way you do.

Society’s focus on money and fame doesn’t make it any easier. If you’re not producing results in the form of royalties and recognition, others may discount the value of your creations, making it difficult to get the support you need to keep going.

Everything changes once you make “the decision.”

In Your Writing Matters, author Colleen M. Story — a long-time professional writer and writing coach — will help you discover whether you truly have a writer’s DNA. She examines:
  • The scientific evidence behind the pressure you feel to make money with your work
  • The reasons why fame and notoriety are so attractive and discouraging
  • The myth of the most talented writers
  • Why book marketing can seem so exhausting
  • Why you feel you have to justify the time you spend writing
Step by step, you’ll gain a clear-eyed look at the challenges a writer faces in the outside world. You’ll also learn:
  • What hidden benefits writing may have in your life
  • Whether writing is part of your life’s purpose
  • When it’s best to leave writing behind
Every writer, somewhere along the way, grapples with the question of whether to continue on the writing journey. Don’t waste your precious time in indecision. Let Your Writing Matters guide you to your truth and you’ll never look back again.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Indie Bound | Kobo


  1. Hmm I can't buy the kindle edition on Amazon, it says it's not available in my country. I can't seem to find it in other stores listed above. Did you publish it to Google Playbook?

    1. Sorry to hear that Sari. I did make it widely available on Amazon? It's available on Barnes & Noble and Kobo so far. I have not published to Google Playbook. I will look into that. Thank you for your interest.

    2. I live in Indonesia. I think Amazon bans my country for fear of credit card frauds. Barnes & Noble's Nook app also not available for download here. I didn't find the book in Kobo (it displays your previous books though).

      Thank you for the great insight in this post. I usually write for fun but lately I've been thinking whether I should spend this much time and money for a hobby. Shouldn't I use them for... say, building a business as a retirement plan? Have I been writing to escape my responsibilities in real life? Should I now focus on how to make money from writing? I think your book might enlighten me, so that's why I want to buy it.

      Anyway thanks again for the post & wish you success for your writing!

    3. Hi again, Sari. "Your Writing Matters" IS now available on Kobo if you can get it there. It was just a little behind the other sites. It's also on Indiebound. Looking into Google Play soon. Ha ha ha. Your story is almost exactly the same as others I quote in the book. I think it would really help you. We all go through those times wondering whether we "should" be investing all we do in our writing. The book helps you answer that question for yourself. Thanks for your interest and best of luck!

    4. Hi Colleen! I can see it in Kobo and I've just purchased it. Thank you, I'm so excited to read it!

    5. Awesome! I hope you enjoy it, Sari, and thanks for your persistence! A great quality for any writer to have. :O)

  2. Thanks for offering such valuable questions to ponder. Writing isn't easy work--thank you for investing the energy in helping writers to better understand why we do what we do.

    1. Thanks, Joanne! Good luck with your writing! :O)