How the Most Useless Animal in the World Will Teach You to be a Stronger Writer

'A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament.' - Oscar WildeClick To Tweet

Have you ever seen a live panda?

I have.

And here’s something I realized about pandas after seeing one with my own googly eyes:

They don’t do anything.

I mean, aside from playing, sleeping, and eating bamboo, that is.

Other animals perform a variety of useful, admirable functions:

  • Dogs can be trained as guides for the blind and disease-sensors for the fragile.
  • Sparrows pick off insects, protecting farmers’ crops from devastation.
  • Even lowly ants spend their days storing up food, teaching lazy people about the value of hard work.

But pandas?

They play, and sleep, and eat bamboo.

They’re, like, the most useless animals ever.

And yet they’re a global treasure. I mean, have you seen how long the panda-watching-lines are?

The last time I saw a panda at the zoo, the queue went all the way down the street. By the time we got to the front, a couple hours later, I just caught one glimpse of a panda over the crush of heads.

It was eating.

So, question: WHY are pandas so darn popular?

Answer: Because they’re cute.

And why are they so cute?

– shrugs – Beats me.

All I know is one weekend, I stumbled on a “panda cub” video, and (what felt like) minutes later, my entire morning had disappeared.

The point?

I’ve been calling pandas useless, but the reality is, they are not.

They’re loveable, and funny, and cheer people up with their cuddly, adorable ways. And that is not something to be sneezed at.

It’s the same with you.

You may think that other people are better writers, their thoughts are more interesting, they are more well-positioned than you are, they have more skill, yadda, yadda, yadda.

And guess what?

All of that may be true.


They don’t have one thing YOU have.

Whether or not the people around you are “better writers,” than you, you DO have something to say, that only you can say in your own way.

That’s why you write, after all, to find your “inner panda” and let others enjoy and be inspired by your pnadableness.

And by “inner panda,” I don’t mean you have to be cute (if you don’t want to). I’m talking about emphasizing the thing that makes you, you.

The thing that makes you interesting, and loveable, and oddly attractive whether you’re playing, sleeping, or eating bamboo (er…human food).

So don’t hide it. Let your inner panda out to frolic in the sunshine or whatever your panda likes to do.

As long as you do, there will always be a place for you in the creative world.

We’ve already had a Charles Dickens, a Jane Austen, an Emma Thompson. And there are too many George RR Martin-mimickers and Stephen King-swipers running wild online.

But we haven’t had a you before. And we don’t yet have what you are about to create.

So create it. Give us your true self. Write what only you can write.

Because no matter what that awful self-critical voice says, you’re not as “useless” as you think.

Not even close.

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