In defense of purposeless writing

I have been wondering, like many a scattered soul on the blogosphere, about what it might mean to write aimlessly. By aimlessly I mean to write without a specific purpose such as to sell, to build a resume, to add to a larger work, or to vent.

When I browse posts in an unfiltered sort of way, without any express purpose as a reader, my idle meanderings make me speculate on a purpose (or perhaps the purpose) that writing serves in our lives.

Writing for pleasure of expression (not for a professional purpose) is a luxury that we can indulge in only in our most privileged of moments. And yet, it is the neglected foster child of our existence, to be pushed away, yet again, for something that is more important at the moment. A job-related activity, a networking event, an application, even a trip to the grocery store. Things that indeed cannot wait.

Writing, for those who want to write, always remains the older, more serious, responsible child that keeps sacrificing its demand on our time in preference for the screaming younger child–a daily activity in immediate need of attention or a larger goal that would provide us a long-term concrete benefit.

This situation does not simply apply to professionals or students who might be involved in a field far removed from writing activities. It also applies to people whose job itself is writing as well–novelists, academics, content writers, communications professionals. . .

When writing is a job, the writing which we do for ourselves disappears from our lives.

Many of us indulge in activities that have no proven benefits, at least in the near future. We go to places of worship, perform daily rituals, spend energy maintaining clothes and shoes we never use for years on end. But writing? It’s an activity to be indulged in at the very end of all others. It’s either too sombre a task or too inconsequential.

But increasingly, as I’ve been reading these idle meanderings, I’ve become more and more convinced that these pieces of expression might be one of the more defining moments of our lives. Our writing, in moments of idleness, defines us as we define our writing.

They are things that seep out of the open mind, and they need an open mind to read them.

For writing is about taking stock, about pausing, reflecting, reviewing  our direction, even understanding ourselves. This is why the directionlessness is important–to let that mirror show ourselves , in the best way it can, who we are.

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73 thoughts on “In defense of purposeless writing”

  1. Here, here for the aimless writers of the world! LOVE this. My favorite part: “But writing? It’s an activity to be indulged in at the very end of all others.” Gonna use that.

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  2. It reminds me of the automotive mechanic that has the worst running car in the neighborhood – too busy repairing other cars and does not have time for his own. What great advertising if his car ran perfectly.
    Your post has inspired me to do some free writing. Thank you!

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  3. Awesome Post!! I’m another of the “aimless writers.” Since am naturally an animal, I enjoy relying on Instincts in my “spontaneous” posts…Randomness makes writing intresting to both the reader and the writer.

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  4. Thank you for liking my post Some Fun Stuff. I agree with your thoughts on Purposeless Writing. For me, as a person and a novelist, writing is an intricate part of who I am. When I give up my writing time, I am giving up an important part of what makes me whole.
    I will be following your blog, and hope you return the follow. Would you consider writing a post for my blog? Perhaps talking about what place writing, and reading, hold in your own life? Or some other subject suitable to my blog platform?

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  5. I agree. It is difficult to allow the space for ‘idle’ thoughts when there is so much stuff screaming to be done. Yet writing when done as ‘playtime’ is often the best. I worked really well in tiny bursts on my first (pure fiction) novel, while doing an academic thesis. Now when I could work all day on the fiction, it is both too serious a project to write in scraps and yet too self-indulgent to be writing when socks need washing or a meal cooking.

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  6. In many ways this is the main point of my blog. Writing has been part of how I make a living for a long time, but it is writing with a purpose (producing a report or memo, etc.). My blog is all about “purposeless writing.” Thanks for the clarity, and thanks for a great piece!

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  7. This is so in line with my introspections of the value and imperative nature of play in our lives and the need for us to have undirected, “unproductive” time. Well said. I especially like the analogy of an older child sacrificing for a younger needy sibling.

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  8. Awesome post. Wriing turns my mood right around, even when it has no real purpose. It’s just the point of expression, of affirming myself and my life as an individual who is alive right now.

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