The Job of the Modern Writer

Is there a difference between modern and pre-modern writers in ideology and responsibility? In other words, has the writer’s role changed over time, evolved into a new, modernized version?

The Writers’ Responsibility

Every writer has various aspirations, and thus each one brings to a range of mental (and emotional) responses to the audience. Without going into personal reasons for why writers write—there are individual reasons that overlap in many ways—perhaps one generalization can be made:

Writers see the world with different eyes, and they’re portraying their unique perspective to everyone else.

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Photo by Nana B Agyei

Writers have an enormous power to affect others, and this needs to be used wisely, and that’s why writers always had a vast responsibility towards their community. This hasn’t changed—in fact, nothing in the writer’s role has changed —only time has passed.

This means more writers, more writing, and the unavoidable treatment of different kinds of topics, raising important questions that lead to progress.

Once in a while, it’s worth taking a look into the responsibilities we carry, and re-examining the present path, ultimately aligning it in a new direction. This is my personal favorite selection of the writers’ roles in society:

1. To provoke

To provoke not for the sake of provoking and being different; rather in the sense of raising questions to present circumstances. Asking questions is the foundation that leads to any kind of progress. Writers explore what we’re doing, where we’re going, what if’s, why’s, new questions and old questions, and build on what has been found.

Questions are the starting point on the drive forward. The answers will follow.

2. To show

Writers show all those particular details seen by their individual lens. Think of all those things that seem to have been under your nose, yet you failed to recognize until you read them in a book.

Writers also represent an appearance in a completely fresh light with the power of language. Writing is art after all. The artistic aspect should never be omitted.

3. To give perspective

One may have thought that everything has already been said. Writers prove otherwise. They go beyond past achievements, praise them, use them, and go further.

There are never enough topics, never enough truths that need to be conveyed, never enough angles to any problem, never enough answers to a question, never enough questions to start with, never enough combinations of the same words, never enough opinions, never enough reminders of the bigger picture, never enough writing.

Attempting to avoid the trap of romanticizing the writer’s calling, the above is a good token that gives more purpose to what you do. If you ever get low on writer’s energy, remind yourself of these things, of this perspective. Your perspective is mirrored to others. It always matters.

What is your favorite writer’s role: what do you aspire towards?

PRACTICE

Choose a short piece of your recent writing (no more than three or four paragraphs) and post it in the comments section. Then try to explain what the perspective you offer is, and what questions you raise. What is it that you’re showing; in short, the motifs of the story.

Be kind and comment on your fellow practitioners. Let’s reveal hidden layers of the stories from individual interpretations.

About Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is a writer and entrepreneur. He is the author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller Let's Write a Short Story! and the co-founder of Story Cartel. You can follow him on Twitter (@joebunting).

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