What are you creating?

I’m a writer by calling and by trade, so the answers–on the surface–are straightforward and simple. next week’s column. Draft of an essay. Rewrite of a story. Revision of a novel. Blog post. Next chapter in new novel. Outline of a future novel.

Or, if I need a break from writing: pie.

True as these answers are, this question has been resonating in my head and heart of late, seeking answers beyond the surface and simple.

If I add this supportive comment to someone else’s Facebook post, what am I creating?

If I add this argumentative comment to someone else’s Facebook post, what am I creating?

If I argue a point, what am I creating?

If I dwell in the headlines, what am I creating?

If I skip meditation or a neighborhood walk or a counseling session, what am I creating?

If I am committed to those self-care actions, what am I creating?

If I frown or smile, speak up or ignore, rest or work, what am I creating?

If I stay home or go out or read a book or watch television or cook dinner or eat out, what am I creating?

There is nothing inherently good or bad in any of the activities that kick off the above sentences.

But asking, ‘what am I creating?’ forces oneself to really look at one’s deeper motivations, as well as to think about the ripple effects of taking an action. Doing so can lead to an informed decision about whether or not to take the action. And contemplating that question can help uncover the core values behind what you want to create (or not create) in your life, relationships, and in the world.

Deeper than a written product, what am I creating with any given piece of writing? My goal is always to create written art that emotionally moves readers, takes them on a page-turning journey, and stirs them to see themselves–and other humans–with deeper compassion. Whether I actually create that or not probably depends on the individual, but by asking myself ‘what am I creating?’ I at least understand the point of what I’m trying to do as a writer, and aim myself in that direction.

I like to ask myself that about smaller pursuits. For example, baking pie. Yes, I know I write about pie A LOT. On the surface, I’m creating a tasty treat. But what am I really creating? Sometimes, a dessert is just a dessert. But sometimes, what I’m hoping to create is comfort or an “I love you” or “Get well.”