Making Sense of Life

“People write,” he said, “to make sense of their lives.”

#76 - Mannequin ArtistBrenda, an outstanding writer and member of our local writers’ group quoted that line from a workshop she recently attended. Being the excellent writer she is, when Brenda makes a writing point of emphasis I take notice.

People write to make sense of their lives.

The line struck me as profound and I immediately began exploring my own writing experiences. Is that why I write, too? To make sense of my own life?

“No,” I thought to myself, “No, I write to share what I’ve learned with others.” Trained and experienced as an engineer and manager, I began writing shortly after retiring. That’s also about the time I began to seriously explore my place in the universe.


Maybe I was subconsciously trying to make sense of my life in the big scheme of forever. Pondering further, I realized something else; when faced with life events that overwhelm me, I compulsively write about them. Some examples came to mind:

  • When political rhetoric building up to the invasion of Iraq left no doubt in my mind where the administration was headed, I wrote about peace.
  • When a young man went berserk, launching a shooting spree in Blacksburg, Virginia, writing about the ingredients of our culture that made his actions possible helped me make sense of it.
  • When diagnosed with a serious health issue—something I had never considered or been concerned about—I came to grips with it by writing.

With hindsight, I guess I do write to make sense of my life. As anyone who has ever taught a class knows full well, teaching something stretches your understanding of a topic like no amount of self-study can possibly accomplish.

That’s what my writing has accomplished—for me. I hope that others benefit, too, but I know that when I write about overcoming fear, learning to love unconditionally, or finding life purpose, my writing-journey is personal and heartfelt.

Write from the Heart

That’s the other point Brenda made that day—writing from the heart is powerful and attractive. When it matters to me it will matter to others, too. Cranking out an article simply because one is due just doesn’t work for me. I don’t have the raw talent to pull it off.

I can do it, but the results aren’t satisfying to me and readers notice that. There’s a certain mechanical feel that results from “turning the crank.” Without the well-honed talent to turn out words that sing, my writing efforts must spring from the depths of my best insights and deepest feelings.

So that’s my promise to myself and to you; no scheduled articles, no deadlines, no quotas. Write when the compelling force to write surges from within. Write what I feel. Write from the heart.

Does this resonate with you? Do you journal, blog, or write articles when dealing with something very difficult to understand in your life?

How Do You Make Sense of Your Life?

If you deal with these things by other than writing, what do you do? How do you process and come to grips with events that disrupt your sense of who you are and what your life is all about?

I’d love to hear more about why you write and if you do write to make sense of things. How do you make sense of your life?

Sources: Image courtesy Flikr user Kevin Dinkel, CC Attr. Lic.

26 thoughts on “Making Sense of Life

  1. Imagine my surprise when I read this article first thing in the morning! I am pleased and humbled. Your writing has helped me many times and I’m sure it has helped others as well. I’m glad you plan to keep writing and sharing your work.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jerry, if I hadn’t started writing what is written in my heart long ago in my journals, I would have probably imploded by now. I believe that phrase, though I am still trying to make sense of it all. Lovely post. I shall reblog this 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reblogging my post, “Making Sense of Life.” I appreciate your generosity in doing that. Though my working career was in technology and I’ve only been writing for public consumption for a few years, I’m amazed at how often I gravitate toward writing to help me understand and move on from a significant event in my life. It’s indeed how I make sense of my life.

      Thanks again for taking the time to be here and especially for your thoughtful comments.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think that society gives everyone the stories that answer their questions regarding who they are, their purpose and such. But problems do occur when the stories become broken, or other societies intrude, or people simply rebel. Then they have to make up new stories for themselves by different means.
    Personally, I rebelled and I am now alienated to a large degree, but I prefer it to mindless conformity. Everyone has to find their own path.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your path will become clear, if it isn’t already, by how clearly you feel that while on your path you’re the real you. You’ll find yourself thinking, “That’s me.”


  4. Yes, I do write to make sense of what ever it is I’m processing. I also write to heal. I write whenever I feel moved to and that may come from anywhere. I go for long periods in between writing, but always return primarily to poetry. I am only just learning to write fiction (which is actually more autobiographical), as I explore my own voice first. Nice article. Thank you. Jx


    1. On so many occasions I find that when the words are really flowing it feels they’re coming from some inner intelligence. I’ve written things that I later realized I hadn’t known that I knew. Odd feeling, but inspiring too.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I started writing a year ago when things were not doing too well for me, financially and work wise( unemployment). I tried to get into free lance writing thinking thats the only thing I knew other than what I was qualified for. So I started blogging. I try to be regular with my posts as the gurus advise but unfortunately, some days, I just can’t write for the life of me. I don’t know if writing has helped with making sense of my life but I do know that I have made a lot of good friends through writing and I wouldn’t have had it otherwise.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I most certainly do write to deal with things in my life. I’ve been writing since I was very young and haven’t stopped because it helps me understand myself and the world around me. But I am not limited to just this. I also make art to process my thoughts or even hold conversations with myself. All of it helps me grow and understand my life.
    Thank you for sharing Jerry! First time visitor by the way…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. At my writing group on Monday we were asked to give a reason for “Why I Write.”
    It’s perfect timing reading your thoughts about writing. I have so many ideas for stories that sometimes they vie for attention and intrude on my thoughts until I have time to write them down. Sometime they keep me awake at night and I have to get them onto paper before I can get back to sleep. I guess writing does help one sort things out; figure out the truth of a matter. Most times it is just plain fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I genuinely enjoyed reading this post. I can relate to it in many ways. I used to write all of the time. It was how I handled stress and heartbreak. Then life happened, and I just got to busy, and I stopped. I have missed writing. It was therapy in a way. It helped me sort through my emotions and all that I was feeling. I just began blogging, but I already feel like a weight has been lifted. I write with my entire heart. And it helps.


  9. I’ve always been a writer. It’s probably the easiest way for me to reflect on my place in the world – literally to make sense of my life. I avidly wrote diaries when I was growing up, eventually wrote poetry to better express myself, and now here I am, blogging. Something about written word allows for a more thorough processing, a timelessness that seems to make the message impersonal but inevitably clear. This is also why I enjoy reading, I can learn much more from words on a page than those coming from someone’s mouth.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s something about writing out my thoughts that helps me gain insight and perspective on a situation. Whenever I’m deeply troubled it helps me to write about it. I don’t always publish what I write though.

      Liked by 1 person

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