Friday Fun – Does your writing have a message?

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: Do you believe that your writing is built around a particular message or theme? If so, is the inclusion of that element intentional or unintentional? 

JME5670V2smCROPJamie Wallace: Definitely. I can’t recall starting out with any intentions to deliver a particular message, but the more I write, the more I notice that certain themes keep creeping into my work. Whether I’m writing a blog post, a column, a story, or even a feature piece for a magazine, I tend to weave in observations and details that encourage readers to slow down, step back, and notice the little things. I always look for ways to incorporate different kinds of magic into my writing, everything from the awe-inspiring beauty and vibrancy of nature to the miracles of the human heart to the hidden realms of faerie and folklore. And, I am (and forever will be) a die-hard Pollyanna – optimistic and hopeful to the last.  I also love to offer encouragement via my writing, whether it’s a straight-up pep talk, or a more subtle approach through a story where the underdog comes out on top. If I had to pick one “theme” in my writing, I think it would be “connection” … to others, to the world, and to the self. I find that all the other “messages” in my writing – small joys, slowing down, beauty, magic, hope – all roll up under that one umbrella of connecting in a deep and honest way.

LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson: I’d like to think I have a theme or message whenever I write; and that is to be happy in whatever you’re doing – to enjoy life and the experiences you have each day. We have a finite amount of time and living with regrets or waiting until “later” doesn’t lead to feeling great. I hope to inspire people with my experiences and stories, whether personal or work related.

wendy-shotWendy Thomas: Like Jamie, I find that my writing has settled into themes with those being – teaching, parenting, and life lessons (which includes the chickens :-))  Pieces around those themes are the kinds of stories I have always loved to read and those are the strongest stories that I tend to write. For this, I have to blame my kids,  once you have children you are all about passing on life lessons and trying to guide them along the right path. It’s a natural progression that this desire to teach shows up in  the rest of your work.

I also tend to be incurably optimistic, not so much the sunshine and glitter kind of optimism, but more the – okay, let me think about this, I’m sure we can come up with a solution kind. I’m all about facing a difficulty with creativity, determination, and bravery. Over the years, most of my best writing had tended to reflect this.

35 thoughts on “Friday Fun – Does your writing have a message?

  1. Whether I have a message depends on the book, but unless it’s a family comedy (which tend to be built around appreciating each other) the message is subtle. As Jamie expressed above: “I tend to weave in observations and details that encourage readers to slow down, step back, and notice the little things.”

    That s EXACTLY what I do. Some readers get it, some don’t. But the ones who do tend to form a powerful connection.

    Like Lisa, the message is often “We have a finite amount of time” and like Wendy, “once you have children you are all about passing on life lessons and trying to guide them along the right path.”

    Those don’t appear in all my books but they definitely are in some of them.

    Nice job on this thought provoking post, ladies!

    • We do need to remember to appreciate each other more. We tend to get so wrapped up in “stuff” and zipping along at 110 MPH that we take WAY too much (and WAY too many people) for granted. Love that perspective on a theme.

      Thanks!

  2. I write because it is my relief valve. I do themes by seasons. I am in a season of wellness even as I grieve for my daughter. years ago I complied a book of letters after the death of my niece so now I am writing because of the grace for our grief as my way of wellness.

    • What a lovely way to think about the cycle of emotional seasons. Thank you for sharing. I am glad you are well despite your grief.

  3. I’ve never wondered about a message in my writing. Writing for me is like birds singing. It feels good to just put words on paper, so I do. Much later, I discover what I was trying to say or show, and then I try to edit it. But I’m not sure I’m ever really conscious of a message.

    • I think that happens for many of us. The writing starts as an organic process of just getting things – ideas, stories, thoughts – out and onto paper; and it’s only after we go back through a body of work that we can start to see the patterns. It can be a very illuminating process.

      Flannery O’Connor said, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” I think that’s also an experience that’s shared by many writers. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started writing a piece with one idea/message in mind, and then realized that what I’m actually writing about is something entirely different, something I never would have realized I was thinking until the words were on the page and I could go back and read them.

      Pretty interesting stuff.

  4. Yes, my writing does have a message. Several non-related events formed this “theme,” and I realized, not so long ago, that it was an idea that I wanted to write about–forever. The Broad Idea: That Christian Fundamentalists (a.k.a., but not limited to: conservatives, Republicans, literalists) and Humanists (a.k.a., but not limited to: liberals, Democrats, and free-thinkers) and must find a way to resolve their polarized relationships. I try, in my writing, to take the middle way, i.e., I do not demonize the Fundamentalists, which I might add is quite easy to do and must be resisted. At the same time, I definitely do not try to sanitize the Humanists. With my writing, I want to find the common humanity with all humans. The connective is Nature. Regardless of one’s intense or benign belief, one is an integral part of the natural world. Unfortunately, we often see polarized thinking on that theme as well. I want my writing to focus on what I believe to be the central issue of how belief systems, (mentioned above) can and do move us into opposing camps, and hence away from our true natures, our inherent goodness. Like Wendy, I’m an optimist!

    • You have certainly chosen a wild beast to tame. Or, perhaps it has chosen you?
      Writing can be such a gift – giving people a chance to, if they are willing, walk in someone else’s shoes or live inside someone else’s head. The potential benefits – personally, socially, globally – are without bounds.

      I agree that Nature is the connective tissue between all of us, no matter our race, gender, ethnicity, religion, political leanings or sense of fashion. 😉 Nature is the ultimate leveler of the playing field. Many people just haven’t realized it yet.

      Good luck on your journey/battle/quest.

  5. I usually have something in mind. However, at first it just may be a vague thought but once I start writing, then that vague thought begins to unfold. For the most part, I write to encourage others who have gone through the issues I had to go through in order for me to begin to write about. As an ordained Elder of the Church, I try to be a compassionate person who can let someone know that if God before us, who can be against us.

    • I love the way stories and messages unfold as part of the writing process. It’s almost magical and can definitely be spiritual. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Interesting question. I don’t purposely have a message or a theme in my blog writing. Mostly it is just stories, thoughts and gentle humor. Although, a literary critic or possibly a psychologist might find a consistent message in my writing.

    • Ha. There’s always someone who is willing to assign deep meaning, even if none was intended.
      Reading your comment and reflecting on this question, I wonder if maybe the term “message” was too strong a word, too constraining. Maybe a better way to ask would have been to consider if our writing has a certain “flavor” or “vibe” … remove the concrete and focus instead on what lives between the lines – hope, redemption, courage, curiosity, stillness.
      Thanks for the added perspective.

  7. I started my blog just because I wanted to record my thoughts and life experiences regularly, and it would be great to be able to connect with others in the mean time.

  8. So happy to be flipping through reader to find this post. My blog has an absolute, intentional message. I started it as personal therapy after my spinal cord injury. I wanted to share my journey, including the day I realized the potty accidents I smelled in the laundry weren’t from my five year old daughter. I just believe that raw honesty, humor and information may help someone, like me, get through it a little easier. Sometimes I veer off path a touch to include everyday living but there is always the theme of chronic pain, the injury and the sometimes irrational stuff that comes along.

    Thank you for the fabulous post – I’ll be sure to follow!

  9. Interesting question. Sometimes I have a message in mind but usually I start with characters and a world, usually a villain, and then while writing the message takes shape. For nonfiction it’s definitely good to start with a message, I think, but for fiction it’s a bit more freeing.

    • I tend to agree that with fiction, we often don’t know what message we’re trying to deliver. We just have a story we want to tell, and eventually the message emerges organically. At least, most of the time. There are no absolutes in writing. 😉
      Thanks for sharing!

  10. This is an interesting question to think about. Considering my message also requires me to think about my audience and my purpose for writing. Like you, my message is one of hope and chronicles my own search for hope. I’m honestly not sure about my audience and their connection to my message because I mostly don’t have one. Still, thinking about this theme of hope in my day to day life is so important to me in this time where so many feel hopeless.

  11. Hmm I just started blogging whereas I’ve started writing properly since last year.
    Do I have a particular message or theme?
    I think it would have to be pain and connection. I like writing poems, shorts stories or whatnot about love but the general idea which I’d like to transmit is the pain the protagonist is feeling at that moment. It doesn’t necessarily have to be about love, could be about struggling to get through life, depression or whatever. Delivering just an ounce of that particular emotion and thus making a true connection with the reader is what I’d like to achieve one day.
    P.S This is a truly wonderful post because it got me thinking and at the same time inspired me to write something new.
    P.P.S If you do have the time please check out my new blog —–> bindedthoughts.com(It’s still a work in progess but feedback is really appreciated nonetheless)

  12. I started blogging this year. I’ve always enjoyed writing because I find it to be therapeutic. But I started blogging after I was challenged to write a blog a day for 10 days. Had no idea what I would write about. Then my relationship ended and the light bulb went off. So the message of 99.9% of my blogs are about lessons I’ve learned. Its been healing. Its been reflective. Its been good.

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