If you read a lot of blogs about writing or follow a lot of writing related podcasts, very few are talking about the spiritual dimension of writing. A few discuss finding work-life balance with writing and being an author since we do so much more than simply write stories these days. Some talk about mental health issues. But spirituality? That seems removed from the writing community, and I feel that leaves something out of the discussion.

You might be thinking not all writing is deep and meaningful. Sometimes we write things that are campy or just plain fun! A gripping thriller or a psychological horror story may not seem spiritual, but that is, to slightly paraphrase something Carl Sagan said, “your idea of spirituality is too small.” (Carl Sagan said, “Your god is too small for my universe.”) We often equate spirituality with deep and meaningful things, not with the laughter of a good pun or enjoying the wit of of a clever turn of phrase. But spirituality, and all it encompasses, can be whatever we need it to be. And for many authors, this means we’re writing with a spiritual purpose even if we don’t immediately believe so.

But think about what you write. Whether it’s science fiction that explores the ramifications of technology and a far off future or romance where the sexual tension is so hot it would make you sweat, your choice in fiction and writing at some level indicates your interests, your beliefs, and what message you want to send to the world.

It would be easy to look at the superficial, like that twisty subversive horror, and paint it with some sort of pathological lens. Our society and culture are primed for quick takes and pop culture psychology. But perhaps the goal in writing such a story is to scare your reader (or yourself) and to come back with food for thought, to create a journey where a character goes through the darkest labyrinth and emerges alive, but changed. Perhaps this signals to the reader that they, too, can go through the dark parts of their life and come through it with new perspective and understanding, or at least food for thought.

And sometimes it’s just a spiritual purpose to write something to take your readers away, give them an escape from their daily lives. A romantic comedy can be an escape from “real life”, just as a galaxy-spanning science fiction adventure can be. This escape, giving people relief from their problems, it, too, can be a spiritual purpose.

Like I said, not everything has to be deep and meaningful.

I’m thankful that there’s talk in the writing community about making a sustainable future in this business, about taking care of yourself, your creativity, and your health. Part of that is checking in and seeing if you’re “on mission” with your writing. What drives you? What makes you want to tell these stories? How does this align with your spiritual values? These, too, are good questions to think about.