I haven’t been writing recently and sometimes I ask myself, “Why bother?” I’ve been contemplating deleting the wild ride!, but something holds me from doing it. I know I’m just in a rut. I just bought a house that can be politely labeled a “fixer-upper,” but first I have to continue demolish-downing the place; overtime has been crazy-available at work lately and I can’t really say no to time-and-a-half; my girlfriend moved in with me and we’ve been adjusting to this new life together; and quitting drinking has forced me to find a new comfort zone in which I may wield my mighty pen.

I’ve felt disconnected lately – from myself and the way I’ve lived for a long time – which has made writing lately very hard to do. That has led into a vicious cycle. Not writing feels disconnecting, feeling disconnected leads to not writing. I can’t (nor do I want to) go back to the life I lived just a few months ago: I now own a house (debt-free, by the way), live with my girlfriend, and quit drinking. I’d rather never write again than sit in a tiny apartment by myself with a six pack. Unfortunately, habits get formed and can’t be broken – only replaced. Habits are riverbeds and only fresh water can change the direction of the river.

Oh, or lots of shovels and hard work. I had to start over completely. I had to ask myself some questions. What do I define as writing? Why do I write? Only after defining what “writing” was to me, and then categorizing the reasons I want to do it, can I consciously and permanently change my habits. Then I can perform the fun part: the writing. No, the ride isn’t over – it’s just entering part two.

So how do I define writing? For me, it is the process of creating an article for the wild ride! site. I write in my diary regularly, though the words inside those moleskines are not “written” as much as they are puked onto paper and flushed away into a stack of over 30 volumes. My journals are my lifesource and if they go away, I may too. The wild ride! is the glossy, finished product, as unglossy and unfinished as it may seem.

The motto in my little corner of this online liberty city is “personal liberty through anarcho-adventures.” I keep my eyes on the political scene and the world around me, but honestly, none of it makes me more free and the only thing I care about is my own personal liberty. Taking personal liberty to its logical extreme means taking personal responsibility: removing bad relationships (whether voluntary or coercive), addictions, and other lifestyle choices out of my life. It means critical thinking and being present in the moment. It means self-mastery and life purpose.

If anarchy means no rulers, then anarcho-adventuring is off-the-trail, hold-onto-your-butts, strenuous, super-fun living, no matter where I go or what I do. If I don’t live that way then I’d rather not live at all. Here in New Hampshire people take that “live free or die” thing seriously, or so they say. It’s my goal to take it seriously.

So why do I write about this stuff? Well, keeping a diary doesn’t offer the same gratification as publishing a blog. Humans have the need to engage and connect with others. Publishing is one way to do that. Looking back at my own writing on this blog, I see the different ways I’ve tried to connect with others – ways that are much more successful than comment hi-fives and click-counts in the stats page. Whether through topical essays or anarcho-travel pieces or ramble tamble mumbly jumbles that only I seem to understand, I think the reasons why I write can be grouped into the following categories: to entertain, to enlighten/inform, and to inspire.

Of course, storytelling is the original form of entertainment. Stories have to be entertaining to be remembered, so this is a pretty important category. I write to have fun, and I write because others enjoy reading my stories. The other categories below can fit into this one, and ought to.

I don’t always write to enlighten or inform – sometimes a piece can be pure entertainment. But often there’s something important to say. Perhaps someone might benefit from knowing some piece of information. Sometimes the information is simply for myself. There’s plenty of that in my back catalog. I don’t even understand all of it, but I leave it there so I can see how I’ve changed over time; perhaps the piece will enlighten me someday, or inform me of a previous mindset I had. There are plenty of blogs online like this, as well — little spider webs in the corners of the great, wide internet where spider-bloggers spin their own gossamer. It holds our blogs — and ourselves — together.

What moves me the most to write, and what gives me the most purpose, is to inspire. Not like a muscle-bound, crew-cut inspirational speaker or sales-jerk wearing a microphone headset and holding his hands together while he talks. But to make someone’s eyes wide and mind alight, to ignite their courageous hearts. I didn’t do the exact math, but generally for every comment hi-five or facebook share, I receive .000005 communications in the form of comment, message, or conversation that mean the world to me: I’ve inspired someone to make a change in their life, to step off the trail, to live a little, to achieve that personal liberty we’re all on quests for.

The first great feedback I received was from someone I connected with immediately. I “wear my heart on my sleeve,” and that inspired the reader to pursue this mindset. This set off an amazing correspondence and friendship that was very productive for the short time we were in touch. We realized we had separate lives to live, and in some ways that meant no longer being friends, but at least we’ve gone on to better things because of the connections we once shared in our personal liberty journeys (or so I hope).

Later on, I received a note from the editor of a site that posted some of my pieces, Shire Liberty News. One of her readers sent her this: “The article ‘We Should Hang Out’ really hit me. That is the reason my wife and I are moving to NH. We feel ‘invisible’ where we are now. Now I am 72 and married, so probably not a lot of Libertarians are going to be able to relate to me, and of course vice versa, but man do I want to try to connect with some of them. I need to breathe again, to relate, to stop hiding my opinions and so on. So ‘hang out’ I will and happy I will be.” That made my month, I tell you. And it inspired me to keep reaching out to new people at events. Maybe I’ll even meet that fellow someday.

The last example I’ll share was some feedback I received concerning Hipsters Gone Paleo, one of the three pieces I’ve written that has “gone viral,” though this one was picked up by some big facebook groups and reddit. (One funny comment on reddit discounted the entire piece because it relied on “the bacon fallacy.”) One reader actually got the book, read it, followed some of its advice, and lost 30 pounds.

Knowing I’ve made a few small but positive changes in the world is more than enough to keep writing. Perhaps this is the beginning of a virtuous cycle: feeling connected leads to writing and writing more leads to more feeling connected and engaged with others out there in the world. All I needed were some proper definitions and some purpose. The action will come swifter than ever before.