A Greater Purpose
By Bryan Cohen
When I first started out in writing, I was solely interested in entertainment. I did and still do get a kick out of people laughing at my stage plays and comedic essays. It’s a warm feeling of validation that I cherish. An equally satisfying sensation is to see someone moved by my motivational and instructional books.
I both want to entertain and help people, but writing things that cause people to change for the better keeps me more motivated on a day-to-day basis. I believe that this is because writing for others is part of a deep, fulfilling purpose for me.
Writing has always been an above-average skill of mine and I enjoyed it all through college. One of the reasons I liked it was because it was almost always part of an assignment. I loved school assignments (nerd alert) because they had strict deadlines and a clear purpose (getting an A). When I graduated and my assignments were all completed, I lost a sense of purpose.
Many people pick this purpose back up when they go to work at a job or attempt to gain a master’s degree or PhD. I knew that I wanted to write books or plays or poems, but there weren’t too many jobs with a boss and assignments that would make this happen. It wasn’t until I learned the importance of creating my own purpose beyond doing well at school that I thrived at writing.
In a rudderless, drifting state, I started listening to a lot of motivational audio books. Authors like Napoleon Hill and Earl Nightingale noted the importance of service. According to them, the most successful people in the world have learned to adapt what they love to do in a way that could serve people. I had to look inside and find what I liked doing that might qualify as service. I’d always enjoyed giving advice and helping people through tough times. I thought to myself, “If I’m struggling as a writer, I can’t be the only one.” There it was: A direction; some coordinates to punch in that gave me a reason to write.
How can you solidify the purpose in your writing and general life? List a few things that you love doing. Then list a few ways for each in which you could apply those skills to service. Maybe it’s creating children’s books that help kids learn to read. Perhaps you want to craft a thriller novel that adds excitement to the lives of millions. Turn your favorite things to do into a purpose and your writer’s block (and life block) may be inspired to take an extended vacation.
Bryan Cohen is a writer, actor and comedian from Dresher, Pennsylvania. Since graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill he has written four books (1,000 Creative Writing Prompts: Ideas for Blogs, Scripts, Stories and More, 500 Writing Prompts for Kids: First Grade through Fifth Grade, Sharpening the Pencil: Essays on Writing, Motivation, and Enjoying your Life, and Writer on the Side: How to Write Your Book Around Your 9 to 5 Job), several plays (Something from Nothing and Chekhov Kegstand: A Dorm Room Dramedy in Two Acts) and he was the head writer for an un-produced Web series (Covenant Coffee). His writing and motivation website Build Creative Writing Ideas has had over 100,000 visitors since it was founded in December 2008. He lives in Chicago, Illinois.
Follow Bryan on Twitter @buildcwideas.
Bryan Cohen is giving away 100 personalized writing prompts to one giveaway entrant chosen at random during the blog tour. Personalized prompts are story starters that cater specifically to a writer’s subject matter, strengths/weaknesses, etc. Cohen will create the prompts to cater exclusively to the winner. He is giving away free digital copies of his book The Writing Sampler to everybody who enters, which includes excerpts from each of his four books on writing. The book contains essays, writing prompts and tips and tricks to enhance your writing skills. In addition, for each of Cohen’s books that reach the Top 500 on Amazon during his blog tour, he will add a $50 Amazon gift card to the drawing (up to six $50 cards in total)!
To enter, simply post a comment to this blog post with your e-mail address. Entries will be counted through June 2nd, 2011.