Mary Pipher on Writing to Change the World


I encounter a lot of good people who are trying to make the world a better place through their writing. They may be writing books, articles, short stories, blog posts, Facebook entries, reports, creative works, or a host of other possibilities.

For all in this broad category, Mary Pipher’s Writing to Change the World (2006) is instructive and inspirational.

Pipher is a bestselling author and therapist. Her book reflects upon the uses of writing to make a positive difference. Here are a few snippets from the introduction:

Writing to connect is “change writing,” which, like good therapy, creates the conditions that allow people to be transformed. (p. 6)


When you take pen to paper with the goal of making a difference, you join a community of people for whom words and issues matter. . . . As a writer, your life goal may involve a worthy cause I cannot even imagine. Whatever it is, you are fortunate. (p. 10)


The title of this book . . . may sound grandiose, but I truly believe that positive changes come from decent people acting properly. (p. 13)

We need healthier stories

Pipher laments our unhealthy popular culture that feeds on tawdry details and appeals to superficial values. Instead, she would like us to focus on tales of meaningful work and lives.

“Healthy cultures pass on healthy stories from generation to generation,” she notes, adding that “We need stories that teach us to be patient, to share, and to put things into perspective.” (pp. 11-12)

Many forms

Pipher devotes chapters to various writing forms, including letters, speeches, personal essays, blogs, and music & poetry.

In other words, if you’re not a bestselling novelist or prize-winning journalist, not to worry. It’s about effecting good changes in small and large ways through the written word.

If the title draws you, welcome to a thoughtful and pleasurable read.

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