Just got done with Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years which is a memoir not only about writing stories, but also about living a life that impacts others.
The crux of the book is that Don is learning how to write a script for a film based on his life. But the more he gets into it, the more he realizes his own life is boring. That he’s trying to write great stories, but he’s not necessarily living a great story, really connecting with others. He says this about the disconnect:
Here’s the truth about telling stories with your life. It’s going to sound like a great idea, and you are going to get excited about it, and then when it comes time to do the work, you’re not going to want to do it. It’s like that with writing books, and it’s like that with life. People love to have lived a great story, but few people like the work it takes to make it happen. But joy costs pain.
Life, like writing, is work especially if we want to impact others. Or how’s the cliche go, “Make a difference?”
Writing is hard. Creating life change is even harder.
I honestly think that’s why something like TOM shoes is so popular. It’s easy to feel good about yourself, just by buying some shoes rather than put in the work.
It’s been super trendy to say you want to “make a difference” but then not everyone wants to give up television or not spend as much money on drinks or they just want to make it as easy as possible.
The good news is that technology has made it extremely easy to help people. And I’m not saying that people aren’t being helped by that, but just think about how much of a difference you are really making with some of those options. It’s just that some people are using that as an excuse instead of really getting involved with issues or causes.
What is hitting LIKE on Facebook really doing?
Making a real difference requires getting dirty and facing problems that don’t have easy solutions. It’s often the same with writing.
We can spend money on workshops and cool software and helpful books and read some sweet blog posts, but then actually doing the work and figuring out a story and characters is no fun.
That’s why a lot of people attach the word “aspiring” to the title of writer. Because to most, it’s just that.
I’m not talking about doing the work vs not getting published. That’s not what I mean here. I just mean that tons of people talk about writing without actually doing any.
And similarly, a lot of people talk about doing great things with their life, but rarely do.
As a person that writes and as a person that lives, I’ve been guilty of doing both–talking too much about big things without doing much to back it up.
Hopefully, I’m changing that. How about you?
PS: Don is talking about living an interesting life, but not necessarily about your life. And there is a difference between memoir (which Don writes) and fiction, so I’m not contradicting this