What “Forrest Gump” Can Teach Writers

“You have to do the best with what God gave you.” —Mrs. Gump

If I asked you:

“Why do you want to write?”

Your answer is going to boil down to one or all of the following:

  1. Money
  2. Fame
  3. Immortality

But you may be hesitant to say it out loud.

It sounds so cold and greedy, looking at those words like that.

That’s why so many writers say they want to write because they want touch lives, explore their dreams, help others, etc., etc.

Eh…yeah. Right.

What they’re really gunning for is money, fame, and immortality. (Or so they think)

I know.

After all, you forget that I’m one of you.

And guess what? Writing can get you all those things, if you REALLY want them. But it may not be in the way that you expect…

What Forrest Gump Can Teach Writers

In this classic story, Forrest is the bumbling severely-low-IQ hero who somehow miraculously becomes a football star, ping-pong master, tech-investor millionaire, movement maker, AND father of a son and husband to the girl of his dreams, to boot.

Specifically, he achieves:

  • Money: He becomes wealthy when he fulfills his dying friend’s wish to run a shrimping boat.
  • Fame: Gump becomes a war hero when he risks his own life to save his best friend in the Vietnam War.
  • Immortality: He “invents” the iconic smiley emoji when repeated rejected attempts to help his true love inspires him to run across the country, inadvertently inspiring multiple people to follow him, including a guy who turns his muddy face print and his line “shit happens” into memes that take over the world.

He accomplishes all of this without trying to, while the people around him who DO openly grasp for money, fame, and immortality fail, hard.


Forrest Gump never intended to become rich and famous. He just did, as a side effect of simply doing the next right thing in front of him, and loyally loving the people in his life.

So…Why DO You Really Write?

When you deny that you write in order to achieve money, fame, and immortality, because those words sound too self-centered, you’re actually right, in a way.

What you really want is freedom, significance, and love.

  • Freedom means not being slave-chained to a boss or job you dislike just because you need to put food in your tummy.
  • Significance means that you matter to someone (or several someones) you care about.
  • And love? Well, love leads to life. With it, you live forever (in more ways than one). Without it, existence feels like a living death.

Can you achieve all three through writing?

Yes, if you live life the Forrest Gump way:

Doing the next right thing in front of you, and loving people loyally.

How can you do that today?

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