Seven Problems Every Writer Should Solve

Have you heard the saying, “Be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem?” As writers we have a responsibility to make the world a little better for our having been here.

We can think of it this way. The whole world is on a scale (or ruler). At one end we find Godliness, light, peace, and security. At the other we find despair, darkness, pain, and trouble.

Each individual is at some point along the scale between these two outcomes. Every decision we make moves us one way or the other. Not only that, but every interaction me make with someone else influences them one way or the other.

Through the written word we can influence a whole lot of people. Shouldn’t we move them towards light away from darkness? Here are seven problems every writer should seek to solve.

1. Human Trafficking.

The US Department of Justice estimates that every year 14,000 – 17,000 people are brought into the United States as slaves. The worldwide number of slaves is in the millions. Forced labor is only part of the problem. The driving force behind modern slavery is the sex trade.

As writers we must not support prostitution or pornography. Organizations involved in the sex trade encourage slavery and/or perpetuate the attitudes that allow it to exist. Writing done for the adult entertainment industry is nothing more than ad copy for human trafficking.

2. Deforestation.

Industry is a good thing. People have a right to benefit from the creation and sell of wood and paper products. However, companies that remove trees should also be responsible for replacing them.

Writers contribute to the use of tons of paper each year. Image what pressure we could bring if we all demanded responsible land use. We should also seriously consider the use of paperless technologies such as e-books.

3. Censorship.

Free speech is the responsibility to question wrong-doing in the government, the church, and business. Writers, especially journalists, are the first defense against authoritarians who wish to hide their actions.

Censorship, once allowed, has a way of growing until it causes great harm to society. Let’s all think twice before demanding that someone not be allowed legitimate expression of his opinion or beliefs.

4. Book Banning.

A lot of this is the result of well-meaning people acting in ignorance. The Lord of the Rings has been removed from library shelves for promoting witchcraft; Little House on the Prairie, for promoting intolerance. A basic familiarity with these books proves these reasons invalid.

Book Banning is akin to censorship, but more drastic. The removal of books from a society because of content is an extreme action. It should, as a rule, be avoided. Writers should educate the public about the value of books.

5. Media Bias.

It’s difficult not to approach a subject, especially an important one, with some amount of bias. However, we ought to save our opinions for the op/ed pieces and keep them out of the ‘hard’ news.

I see way too much news content which is nothing more than propaganda for a particular product, political view, or philosophy. Writers, especially journalists, are called to present the truth as it is, not the truth as advertising dollars say it should be.

6. DRM.

Referred to under names such as Digital Rights Management and Digital Restrictions Software, DRM is a technology generally used by software producers, publishers, and copyright holders to limit consumers’ use of media.

The chief problem with DRMis the unreasonable restrictions it places on people after they’ve paid money to access the content. As writers we must make clear our expectations on this matter to business and government. Our readers are depending on us.

7. Illiteracy.

Fifty Million adults in the United States recognize so few printed words they are limited to a 4th or 5th grade reading level. The level of functional illiteracy is increasing by two million persons each year.

What’s the value in writing if no one can read what you wrote? We have a vested interest in volunteering to tutor readers. Most communities offer some sort of program to help adults learn to read. I imagine your local program would be thrilled to have your assistance.

There are no easy solutions to these seven problems.  I’ve presented them with little commentary from myself. Although, my opinions are somewhat clear.

These issues touch the lives of most — if not all — writers. What do you think should be done about these problems? Have I missed some that you are passionate about?

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About James A Woods
Freelance Writer, Constant Learner, Family Man

2 Responses to Seven Problems Every Writer Should Solve

  1. Bruce Byfield says:

    Well, I can’t argue against the causes you mention. However, bysuggesting that writers make them part of their work, you risk encouraging diatribes rather than well-crafted work. Making a cause part of a work of fiction is a difficult art that very few can master.

  2. adamtree says:

    @Bruce — You’re right about the risk of diatribes. Perhaps I should have said something about how a well-integrated message does not equal preachiness.
    Andrew Vachss is good at making a cause (child abuse) part of a work of fiction. He is perhaps best known for his Burke novels, but he also wrote Batman: The Ultimate Evil dealing with human trafficking.

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