Workable #26: Say “No” to Quid Pro Quo

What if we write simply to write? Is it possible for the activity to be its own purpose?

Workable #26: Say “No” to Quid Pro Quo
Photo by Jess Bailey / Unsplash

The calculus of modern life is often a giant quid pro quo: I do x so that I can get y. Writing, quite often, is no different. We might say to ourselves that we write so that we can:

  • Finish our book.
  • Publish a blog post.
  • Get some ideas down.
  • Send out that screenplay.
  • Feel better about life or the world.

I see nothing wrong with writing like this. It’s goal-oriented. Sometimes, goals are really helpful. At other times, however, goals can leave us feeling like we are only doing things for a certain end. They sometimes prevent us from enjoying the activity for its own sake.

What if we made art for its own sake?
What if we write simply to write?
Is it possible for the activity to be its own purpose?

I think it is.

Amid the adult coloring book craze, I know very few people who color so that they can have a finished piece of art. Instead, the coloring becomes a kind of meditative, mindful experience. Coloring becomes an opportunity, quaint as it sounds these days, to be here now.

Writing can be the same.

We don’t have to write to finish the book or the article or the blog post or whatever. We can write simply to write.

Try it. Say "no" to the quid pro quo of writing this for some particular goal or purpose. Write simply for the joy of writing and see what happens.


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