Writers have a unique superpower: as communicators, we use language to show others how to think, how to be, and how to feel. We reflect the world back to people, allowing them to see themselves in all their truths and to see how to be the best version of themselves. Children explore what it means to be a person through stories and use the new ideas presented them to articulate their own emerging ideas. Adults continue to grow and evolve as individuals and as members of their communities.
But for you as a writer, when the writing is hard going or you slip into despair because the words aren’t coming, it’s easy to dismiss the power you hold as a writer and think, “how can one person make a difference?”
Yet if you consider the books that have informed, moved, and changed you, those writers were your inspiration. If you stay the course and keep up your writing, you will be that inspiration to someone else.
Any time you’re feeling low or blocked or want to throw all your writing into the bin and set it on fire, pause to consider the good you do and the ways you are uniquely set up to inspire others and affect a wonderful amount of change.
It’s not just a couple of ways that are inspiring either- it’s a long list. Fourteen to be exact!
The 14 Ways Your Writing Inspires Others:
1. Tell Empowering Stories:
Writers create narratives that feature characters who overcome adversity by facing challenges, fighting the good fight, and achieve their goals or at the very least grow as human beings along the way. These stories can inspire readers to believe in their own abilities and persevere through tough times.
When you’re feeling tired or “as thin as a playing card,” (thanks for the very appropriate visual, Joyce Carol Oates!), consider the books that have inspired you to believe you could grow and triumph as a writer.
What’s so powerful about books written by writers for writers is they speak to the givens of what it means to do what you do. There’s comfort in such insider connection.
By acknowledging the difficulty of putting the world into words, those books make you feel more powerful. The writers have been there, and they have broken down what you can do and how to harness your power to tell your stories.
2. Share Personal Experiences
Fiction is as true as it gets except when the writer tells their own story. You can use your own journey to inspire others, especially if you have triumphed over difficulties or achieved personal growth and stand in front of your reader today as an evolved, broader, and more informed version of your earlier self. Personal essays, memoirs, and autobiographies are always powerful sources of inspiration to others.
3. Offer Different Perspectives
Confirmation bias is very real and damaging as it often shuts down conversation and consideration of complex ideas. Being shown how to back up and acknowledge multiple sides to a situation is key, and books and short narratives and nonfiction pieces are what do this best. Social media may be a powerful delivery mechanism of information, but thoughtful writing in long and short-form pieces is yet more so and necessary for engendering open-minded connection.
Books and short works envelop a reader and can illustrate the world through a different lens than the one they may be used to. This can promote empathy and understanding, encouraging people to be broader in their thinking and more compassionate.
4. Raise Awareness
Speaking of confirmation bias, it’s easy to focus only on those issues we choose to look at and remain ignorant to others. But by drawing attention to important topics in a fully realized narrative or in an ideas-based work of nonfiction, writers can inspire readers to learn and want to take action and work toward positive change.
5. Provide Guidance
Self-help books, motivational literature, and instructional guides written by authors with expertise in various fields can offer readers practical advice and tools to improve their lives.
Nonfiction is the #1 best-selling book genre (by a substantial margin) because people crave voices that will be their voice of reason in the storm of life. Learning and anchoring our experience through such nonfiction books is a wonderful opportunity to feel calmer and simply live better.
6. Ignite Imagination
Fiction writers can spark readers’ imaginations and creativity by crafting imaginative worlds and compelling characters. This can encourage individuals to explore their own creativity and dream big.
Not only does fiction not say “you can’t do that” or “that’s not possible”; it does the exact opposite. Dreams are where the magic lives, and giving that to people is giving them hope, fun, escape, and joy.
7. Share Knowledge
Nonfiction writers who are specialists in their fields can share their expertise and knowledge in ways that are meaningful to readers. Having access to this kind of information empowers readers to learn and grow in new interesting areas.
Often called “academic hybrids,” or “journalistic nonfiction” these “think books” are a fantastic way for engaged laypeople to learn about areas that would otherwise belong exclusively to industry insiders or those in the ivory tower. Malcolm Gladwell, Kamal Al-Solaylee, and John McWhorter are some examples of public intellectuals who have democratized ideas to share and inspire people to new heights.
8. Challenge Conventions
Writers have the power to question the status quo and challenge conventional wisdom. This can inspire readers to think critically and not blindly accept the norms of society.
9. Create Artistic Expression
Poets and lyricists, in particular, use the beauty of language to evoke emotions and provoke thought. Their work can inspire readers to appreciate the nuances of language and the power of self-expression.
Poets “tell the truth but tell it slant,” (Emily Dickinson) which makes them wonderful reflective bodies through which we can see the world—and ourselves.
Tell all the truth but tell it slant — (1263)
10. Promote Resilience
Setbacks and failures are a natural part of life’s journey, and how one develops resilience and “grittiness” is through using these experiences as learning opportunities. Showing how you or a character has come out on the other side of a challenging situation shows readers how to develop resilience and bounce back from their own disappointments. [This list of memoirs that show people going through tough situations and emerging better off/wiser is a great one.]
Grit, by Angela Duckworth, is a fantastic nonfiction work that is a must-read for anyone keen to learn why some people “make it” with more success than others– and how you can teach yourself to be “grittier” (something a writer needs from time to time).
11. Foster a Sense of Belonging
Through stories and essays that touch on themes of identity and belonging, writers can make readers feel seen and understood, fostering a sense of connection and inspiration. Recent years have shown ever-greater numbers of books featuring themes of LGBTQ+, differing abilities, communities of color, immigrant experiences, world cultures, and the beauty of diversity, inclusion, tolerance, and honoring one’s self-identity. The more such books are available to readers, the more all people will feel seen, connected, and purposeful in their lives.
12. Encourage Reading
Simply by writing and sharing your work, writers contribute to a culture of reading. Reading itself is a source of inspiration as it exposes individuals to new ideas, perspectives, and worlds. Research has shown that people who read fiction are far more empathetic and compassionate, which is all the more reason to start reading to children at an early age!
13. Engage in Healthy Dialogue
Writers can engage in conversations with their readers through social media, book signings, and other events. This direct interaction can deepen the connection between writers and their audience and show others that achieving such heights with their own writing is possible. The platform you keep as a writer can bring out some very interesting and engaged people, and inspire them to write their own books!
Any writer who makes it to publication must have discipline. While some elite few writers write full time, other writers have jobs, families, and other responsibilities. Jake Tapper, CNN anchor, has written 6 books. How has he done that on his schedule? Daily short writing sessions.
Most writers learn to create habits and a regular writing practice built on a system that works for them. When friends and family know they can’t phone before noon or that you write on weekends and can’t join for brunch, they may grumble, but they are deep down inspired by your drive and determination.
How You Can Inspire Others with Your Writing: A Challenge
This challenge is for you to use your unique gifts as a writer to connect, move, and inspire others today.
The challenge is meant to gas up your creative car and reinforce for you that you are an amazing individual who has an enormous power to lift, move, and motivate others with your writing:
- Write a letter (on paper!) and mail it
- Write a love poem for someone you care about (and show it to them)
- Write a gratitude list and post it where you can see it first thing in the morning. It will inform you for the whole day and affect how you treat others
- Write a personal reflection + promise to yourself at night: what you noticed happening to you as a writer during the day: your hiccups, your challenges, and what you learned and will do differently the next day.
- Give back to another writer: leave a review for a book on a writer’s Amazon or Goodreads page, say something positive about their work on their social media accounts, or buy something they’ve written.
You can find a lovely list of FREE ways to support writers HERE.
As I talk about in my article, “Give an Experience, and Shape Someone’s Life Story,” giving to others floods us with dopamine, which is the “feel good” chemical your brain generates. Feeling so full of goodness makes us better people and ultimately the world a happier and more understanding place.
- Share what you’ve done in our private Facebook group, the One Lit Place Writers Lounge, and inspire the other writers to do the same!
These 14 ways you affect and influence others are noticeable and admirable. The fact that you persevere in addition to all you accomplish with your writing goes a long way toward inspiring people, making your writing a truly noble pursuit.