What Do You Want To Write In Your Lifetime? Reflections on Mortality.

    Categories: Creativity

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As writers, we are called to think and write about the deeper things. Writing about death is possibly one of the most important subjects to consider, and one of the hardest.

Thinking about death is also important as we consider our own mortality. Life is short and we have little time to achieve our goals. Why do we waste so much time thinking about things and not actually doing them?!

My Grandfather died last week and I went back to England to be with my family. He was a man of deep faith and also had a good life,  so it is the way of the world and he was at peace. The death of a grandparent is sad but also a natural part of life. But the hours of travelling in limbo across the world gave me an opportunity to think about mortality and what we can achieve in one lifetime, a mere breath on the face of the universe. Here’s the big question:

What do you want to achieve before you die? and what are you doing towards those goals or dreams?

It is good to escape the day job for a week and ponder these bigger subjects as I lie awake in the night, jetlag screwing with my body clock. When do we give ourselves time in the daily grind to think on this? The days seem to go by so fast, and we wonder what we have achieved since we had the big dreams of youth. I sometimes wonder why I waited so long to write, crippled as I was by doubts but if I had started earlier, perhaps I would have met my writing goals already (… but then I would just need new ones!)

I am thinking about the things I want to do in my lifetime, and now I am making more concrete plans to achieve them. Most things are possible if we give them energy, time and effort.

The most common question I get when speaking is “When do I find time to write my book?“. The answer is always “you have to find it from somewhere, you have to give something else up“.

What do you want to achieve in your lifetime, and how are you going to achieve these goals?

Image: Flickr CC Autumn Leaf

Joanna Penn :

View Comments (9)

  • Dear Joanna,

    I am sorry for your loss and I will pray for your family and your grandfather.

    Thanks for this inspiring post.

    Back to writing...

  • Joanna, I'm sorry for your loss.

    I spent a lot of time in my life waiting, waiting for the right time, the right conditions, waiting.

    One day I realized the waiting was over, that if I wanted to get anything done, I had to take action. That's what's guided me ever since.

    Thanks for your heartfelt post.


  • Hi Joanna,

    I'm so sorry for your loss. I found your post inspiring and can relate it to my own life. I've been thinking about the same subject a lot recently. Your post came at just the right time.

    Thank You.

  • Hi Joanna
    Sorry for your loss. My condolences to you and your family.

    Like Narges, I found your post to be inspiring and thought provoking. I've been thinking a lot - of a lot of things - and was at a loss of how to pen it down .. Your post has helped a lot.

    Life really is quite short - you never know whats going to happen tomorrow. Driving in Mumbai makes you think of these things (I almost got squashed between two buses yesterday!)

  • Thanks all for your comments - I'm glad the post helped and sparked some thoughts. Sometimes it is hard to know whether one should share openly on the blog, but you have helped make me see that sharing personal thoughts is important, as well as useful "how to " information.

  • First, very sorry to hear about your loss. Contemplating mortality is sometimes a good way to live. However, it is also sometimes worthwhile to consider whether setting goals in life is the same as living life itself. If we've enjoyed ourselves, is not achieved our goals not having lived life properly? Sometimes, we may be too busy setting goals to achieve in life and chasing after them to live life itself.

    • Hi Alan, yes, this is true - but I also want to achieve some life goals before I go :) But I am a goal setting type - I agree life isn't all goal pursuit - sometimes just being is important. Thanks,

  • Joanna, my sympathies on your loss. Grandparents are special, their loss often irreplaceable. I still miss mine!

    Just last month, I had a similar insight. My fiction novel has been hanging fire for over a year, even though the idea and plot had been evolved fully. So, on a whim, I decided to put all else on hold to finish it. To my surprise, the first draft took a mere 10 days to write... all 77,000 words of it!

    Of course, there's more to do, and twists to explore in the narrative. But your message is powerful and important. FIND TIME. Otherwise, it'll be too late to do the things you most WANT to!

    All success

    • Dr Mani, you are a very prolific guy and it doesn't surprise me you managed to get 77,000 words done as well as all the rest of what you do! Impressive - well done. I feel the need to do something similar with my novel - it is a life goal and I will finish it!